WE SHOULD ALL BE ACTIVISTS…(Part 1)

A wise man once told me that it makes little or no sense to sit back and bemoan the state of things, the best way to get real change is to go out and ACT! In other words, if you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.

This past year, working in the health advocacy circle has been a journey of some sorts. I remember taking the health campaigns for an increase in the health budget and the implementation of the National Health Act to one of the rotary clubs in Abuja and during the session, one of the club members asked a question that really got me thinking. He asked “say we eventually get all these monies we are asking for, how do we ensure that the funds will be properly implemented, the monies been allocated presently, how are they being utilized?”

It is no secret that we have a major problem of implementation in Nigeria; we are always among the first countries to ratify treaties and sign international conventions. But when it comes to implementation, naa-da!

The innovative ways CODE is tracking funds meant for capital projects in rural communities is an excellent way to ensure that Nigerians get what they deserve. What better way to eliminate extreme poverty from Nigeria and the world at large than ensuring that funds meant for the construction of Primary Healthcare Centers in rural communities are properly utilized so that people do not have to spend more money out of pocket to treat basic illnesses? Or ensuring that funds meant for the provision of basic amenities such as pipe borne water in rural communities are properly and fully utilized so that girls do not have to go long distances to fetch water and they can instead spend that time in school? Or ensuring that funds meant for providing basic amenities for education in rural communities are properly and adequately utilized?

It is important that in addition to advocating for increase in allocation of funds in areas of social development such as health, education and environment, we should also find ways to track how these funds are being implemented- this is what CODE does and I am excited to be part of the team.

In my first few days, I have come to understand that young people in Nigeria are becoming more interested in how they are governed and how resources are being utilized. You hear cases of young men (and women) spending multiple days in transit, all in a bid to reach the remotest communities to track capital projects’ expenditures. Some of these communities are almost forgotten by the general public and indeed the government. In fact, some lawmakers representing some of these communities do not even know that they exist talk less of even visiting them to know what their needs are or even ensure that they get what is due them.

These young people who are willing to risk their lives as a way of contributing to national development give us reason to hope and believe that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel as long as you and I do our parts in ensuring accessibility, transparency and accountability in capital projects’ expenditures.

Celestina is a Project officer at Connected Development. She spends her time writing and volunteering in organisations that work in development and health. She tweets via @Celna4all (https://twitter.com/)