Letter From The CEO
So, it started with a DREAM. A dream of setting up a machinery of holding the AU and its Member States accountable to the standards they have set for themselves; a dream of popularizing the AU and informing Africa and the world what this opaque creature is and what it is doing; a dream of giving every African citizen the choice to be involved in its programs, and a dream that the direction of such a continental organization with massive powers and opportunities must be determined by the citizens its rules over.
AU Watch was born. Since it was set up in 2017, it has taken a proactive approach to its support of the media in Africa. The founders of AU Watch, all former officers of the African Union understood that the media can be a useful and powerful tool not only to confront human rights violations and address issues like insecurity, governance, democracy, poverty and ignorance, but can also be an indispensable medium in bringing the AU and its programs to the people who need it the most.
Using the power of the media to communicate the mission and vision of the AU, they set up AU Watch with the objective of informing and empowering people and communities to tell their stories. Using all means possible —from social media, adverts, radio, blogs, news and academic journals, web features, op-eds and TV appearances, to seminars, conferences, research reports, speaking engagements and books — we work tirelessly to present citizens with incisive and understandable analysis of the work of the AU, its institutions and programs. In the 55 African countries, we run hundreds of private and public events – conferences, workshops and roundtables, interviews with leading AU personalities, seminars, yearly schools athletics, football and other sports competitions, press conferences / briefings, schools / colleges debating competitions, moot court competitions for schools and colleges, spelling competitions for junior and senior schools and radio and TV debates on all AU matters.
An informed population operating within a free and independent media is central to any democratic system. Promoting them is AU Watch’s mission and responsibility. But in many countries across Africa, the freedom of the media is at stake. Many governments continue restricting media freedom by censoring news outlets, declaring legal protection frameworks invalid and exercising pressure on journalists. Self-censorship has become part of the work of many journalists who want to play it safe. And who can blame them? The truth however is, wherever civil liberties are not respected, media freedom does not exist and a democratic system can neither develop nor survive.
In order to achieve these goals, AU Watch’s media programme works with the AU media offices around Africa, media departments of Member States, local media partners, such as journalists’ associations, training institutions, press councils, media owners, political parties, media houses IGOs and NGOs. Our programme will hopefully follow a political approach, based on dialogue and common values as we attempt to contribute in creating a better future for an Africa, we all believe in.
In all the countries where we operate training is high on our agenda. As a research organisation as well, we put a high premium on ground breaking research and journalistic surveys. We therefore hope to be publishing on a wide array of topics ranging from governance, corruption, human rights violations, hard core investigative journalism, media law, and human interests’ stories.
We hope, with your support, that all of us will do our utmost in ensuring that the AU and its Members live up to the high ideals they have set for themselves – especially ideals that relate to human rights, peace, good governance, democracy and development. We especially look forward to working, in a complementary and symbiotic relationship, with all of Africa’s hard-working media, for it is during our darkest moments that we must especially focus to see the light.
Dr Feyi Ogunade, Esq, PhD
Chief Executive Officer