Oludotun Babayemi: I am now Non – Executive at Connected Development [CODE]

Oludotun Babayemi September 28, 2017 1

It is with excitement that I am announcing the completion of my move to a non-executive role at Connected Development [CODE].

When we started recruiting A – team staff last year, I planned to have each new member take the pieces of my role in scaling the organization, and I provide support for their various task while I transition to work with the Board.

I’m delighted to say that this plan has progressed well. As a result, today I am excited to announce my move to a fully non-executive role is complete. Consequently, I will no longer have a day to day responsibilities or involvement at Connected Development — though I will continue to discharge any outstanding consulting or management responsibilities to particular projects. I will also continue to provide ongoing advice and support to Hamzat and the Leadership Team.

I will have the privilege of being able to step back and watch CODE develop and grow while personally having the space to explore new interests and opportunities.

This is a special moment for me as development management has been a major passion of mine since I co-founded CODE five years ago. It has also often been an all-consuming one, especially in the last five years as full-time COO. Now, thanks to Hamzat and the cohort, we have in place, I will have the privilege of being able to step back and watch it develop and grow while personally having the space to explore new interests and opportunities.

With the Cohort during my farewell training at the Community Park

Lastly, I want to emphasize that I am deeply committed to the ongoing success both of CODE and the wider Transparency and Accountability community. Also, I remain passionate about openness, technology and citizen participation. We have only just begun on our journey to deepen democracy by empowering more communities to hold their government accountable, and I plan to remain active in promoting democracy and good governance around the world. I will continue to be an active community member and volunteer for Connected Development and the Follow The Money movement.

So What Next?

My next five months will be spent at the National Endowment for Democracy as a Research Scholar focusing on how citizens in West Africa are using technology to ensure democratic accountability. Watch out for my handbook on how civic movements can use technologies to hold their government accountable by the end of the five-month period. Of course, I will be providing mentorship and direction for some new projects which are already “in the kitchen” for Africa. Please feel free to share thoughts with me on this journey as I will be sharing some lessons learnt at http://dotunbabayemi.com 

Onward!

Why we are Celebrating Five years of Existence: The Now and The Future!

Oludotun Babayemi August 31, 2017 0

157, 822 citizens in five years! That is the number of people that have been impacted by the 1,234 members of the Follow The Money network of Connected Development [CODE], tracking government spending on health facilities, teaching aid, and water supply in rural communities. Much reason why these community champions were celebrated on August 15, 2017, marking five years of CODE existence, at the Silverbird Cinemas, Central Area of Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory. For the future, CODE launched the web and mobile platform – http://ifollowthemoney.org a citizen participation platform, meant for knowledge exchange, knowledge sharing, and community mobilization.

“Great ideas will not come from the present organization you are working; it comes from interaction with other people, in conferences, networking gatherings, in some locations – like Yahuza Suya ( a famous meat shop in Wuse, Abuja), and Ceddi Plaza (a shopping mall in the heart of Abuja), which was where the conversation on starting this movement – Connected Development started” explained Oludotun Babayemi, the Co-Founder of CODE, in his welcome address.

                            A cross-section of participants at the CODE at 5 event

In Nigeria, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) investment and technology office in the country, 2 out of 10 start-ups manage to survive, not to talk of this feat the organization has been able to achieve in few years. Mr Ben Ubiri, popularly known as Ben200, an on – air – personality with Nigeria Info FM Abuja, introduced as one of the community champions was the host. He reiterated these statistics all through the 2 – hour event that comprised film screening of past campaigns – A video shut by Deutsche Welle on the Lead Poisoning in Shikira, and the launch of the future – an animated video in different local languages of why and how citizens can join the movement.

The high point of the night was the key note speech by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) who reiterated the fact that citizens need to mobilize themselves on legitimate platforms like that of CODE which had to remain apolitical. “Even in trying times like this in our nation, we still see some young and energetic men, mobilizing and organizing less privileged communities to speak truth to power,” he said.He acknowledged the fact that corruption has eaten into the fabrics of the country, and that mass orientation by pressure groups like CODE will be worthwhile.

A cross-section of panellists at the CODE at 5 event

The keynote speech was followed by a panel comprising of social accountability advocates in the country – Oluseun Onigbinde, Lead Partner at BudgIT; Gift Omodedia, Senior Programmes Manager at Public and Private Development Center; Serah Maka, Nigeria Country Director at ONE. Others on the panel were Esther Agbarakwe, Adviser on Strategic Communication at the Federal Ministry of Environment; and Semiye Michael, the founder of DEAN Initiative while the panel was moderated by the popular online blogger – Japheth Omojuwa. The discussion hinged on how it has become pertinent for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to practice what they preach, especially on how they transition their organization to become sustainable, and not to become self-seeking, and rent – seeking organizations. Of course, two -hours isn’t enough to discuss this, but the bottom line was that CSOs should develop methodologies of incorporating the communities they serve into their organization and that their constitutions should state clearly how the leadership of such CSOs transit.

120 minutes isn’t a long time, so short that the fully occupied seats of the hall 4, at the Silverbird Cinemas, couldn’t but beg for a vote of thanks. Orchestrated by the Co-founder and Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal who affirmed that the vision of the organization is to see the new born generation, and the future generation upholds the ideals and ideology of CODE’s Follow The Money. “No doubt, our immense thanks rest on on organizations like Indigo Trust, Omidyar Network, and a list of others, who saw the vision, and believed it is worth investing in – intellectually and financially,” Hamzat said in closing.

How Radio is fostering Citizen Participation and Government Accountability

Oludotun Babayemi July 4, 2017 1

[ All 13 episodes of the Follow The Money Radio Program can be listened to at https://soundcloud.com/follow-the-money-129876762/sets/followthemoney-radio-editions ]

“Follow The Money, I have a health facility in Imesi Ile, in Osun State, which has been turned into a warehouse, can you please activate your campaign in this rural community because the facility should have catered for so many people.”

“I will like to inform you that the reconstruction of the primary school at Tongo in Gombe as commenced, we thank the Follow The Money people in our community and also you for mentioning it on the radio.”

Those were some comments from listeners of the 13 episode Follow The Money Radio program, aired on Wazobia FM 95.1 Abuja during the second quarter of 2017 (April to June 2017). In 2015, snap poll results released by NOIPolls Limited revealed that 62 percent of Nigerians surveyed get their daily information via Radio, as such we introduced Follow The Money Radio at a radio station that allows local language – Pidgin. The pidgin language is widely understood and spoken by Nigerians, as such we decided to partner with the popular Wazobia FM in Abuja, which has a reach covering millions of Nigerians. Just to note, that there are other citizen engagement radio program in Nigeria as well, such as the popular office of the citizen by Enough is Enough Nigeria Coalition and Budeshi by procurement monitor that airs every Friday morning on Nigeria Info FM Abuja

But how do you complement a movement like this on the radio? Last year, Connected Development experimented its advocacy strategies with the School of Data Radio, allowing it to garner 1,005 followers on Twitter, and three callers that turned into data evangelist. Even though, the SCODA Radio had bits of drawbacks because there were no directors and a permanent presenter. The drawbacks were useful lessons, for us to initiate the Follow The Money radio. We had to employ the knowledge of Uche Idu, a media for development expert to produce the program. We leveraged on our 2016 Community Media Champion – Big Mo to lead the presenters of the show. Every episode of the radio program was captured on Facebook Live as well, thus making it available to our community on Facebook

Follow The Money Radio

I remembered how much we discussed who the co-presenters will be. After three episodes, we concluded that it is important to use CODE’s staff working on Follow The Money, as they are in-tune with happenings within the community. With learnings from the School of Data radio, I had to start a documentation for the program which became a living document for Follow The Money Radio with presenters, the producers, the social media crew amplifying what happens during the radio program.

Many thanks to Cele Nwa Baby (Operations Manager at CODE) and Baba Bee (Programs Manager at CODE) who took out time to compliment Big Mo on making stories of communities engaging their sub-national government to air on radio, and making sure responses were gotten on such stories. In one of the episodes, the presenters instructed: “honourable Yaya Bauchi from Gombe, we are calling on you to commence the rehabilitation of the primary school at Tongo 2, we already know it’s a constituency project”. Two weeks later, the headmaster of the school joined the radio program to affirm that the rehabilitation of the school as actually commenced. Honourable Yaya Bauchi is the present house of representative member representing Tongo in the National Assembly, and it was confirmed that the renovation of the school was included in a constituency project proposed by him. Another intriguing story was that of the Primary school in Gengle, Adamawa state where hundreds of children learn under a dilapidated building. Three weeks after it aired on the radio program, the communities in Gengle joined the show to inform that the government visited their school, and they offered to start rehabilitation.

From Left – Baba Bee, Olusegun (Handling Facebook Live),Cele Nwa Baby, Oludotun, Uche Idu. From Back Left Olusegun, Bluetooth and Big Mo

So, what next for Follow The Money Radio? “You have all done well in bringing this to the radio; I think you should take this program to the state as well” advised one of our listeners during the last episode. As parts of messages gotten during the program, we have received emails from two other radio stations, who wanted to rebroadcast the show. Unfortunately, they are all in Abuja. Going forward, we are planning to initiate Follow The Money radio in the states, as such if you are a running a radio station in the state, or you are an OAP passionate about good governance, let’s get more voice amplified on your radio station, and feel free to contact us by joining our largest community on governance in Africa at http://ifollowthemoney.org or via info@connecteddevelopment.org. In the meantime, the Follow The Money Radio will be coming to you in the next quarter, join us at http://ifollowthemoney.org to get information on where it will be airing. Please stay tuned!

But Who are You? The Global Media Forum in 2017 focusing on Identity and Diversity

Oludotun Babayemi June 18, 2017 0

Put seven people from the different continent in a room, and let them share experiences of how growing – up looks like in their various continent. You will get different perspectives. Ask same people, how they think their growing up could have been made smarter, I am sure they will not give you the same answer. So, do we think we have general solutions to today’s world problems? Are we living some people behind, especially in the post-cold war era? Whether it’s populism, liberalism, or extremism – it seems there is a new world order, and marginalized communities are starting to feel they have a voice, and they really want to leverage on this voice to make a certain statement!

“It is not really about liberal democracy, it is about identifying what works for your community, for your people, and what makes you tick as a nation” a resolution from a heated debate that ensued between myself, a Chinese, a Cameroonian, and an Ethiopian while passing through the border control at Frankfurt, Germany. It’s another edition of the Global Media Forum in Bonn, and I will be attending the Forum again for the second year in a row – this time to join in the discussion about Identity and Diversity. The Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum is an international congress that provides a platform for more than 2,000 media representatives, and experts from the fields of politics, culture, business, development and science.

At the end of my Junior High in 1993, Samuel Huntington published an article in the Foreign Affairs on The clash of civilizations and he reiterated his hypothesis that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Fast forward to 2017, the world is facing the challenge of democracy decline in developing countries, alignment between groups that find common goods amongst themselves – Qatar, Iran, Syria, China and Russia; the new revolution in France – Le Marche, which is either Left or Right; the Isolated North Korea; the British exit from the European Union; and not to forget the emergence of the blockchain technology that breaks the monopoly of powerful central banks and government agencies in maintaining single entities.

As a matter of fact, the media is not immune to this change in world order. It is becoming difficult for the media to decipher fact from lies! Cultures can decide to have their own media and share with the world, for some people – Twitter and Facebook have become their media, and as the world evolves from the 24-hour news stream, it is becoming more challenging for the media to communicate solutions. For the next three days (June 19 – 21), I look forward to engaging with delegates at the Global Media Forum to designing interdisciplinary approaches for meeting the challenges of the new world era, and explore how the media can play a central role in this post – factual time.

To follow the conversation at the 2017 Global Media Forum 2017 in Bonn, Follow The Official event Twitter handle – @DW_GMF; Official Event Hashtag #dw_gmf; and also our Twitter handle @connected_dev 

Oludotun Babayemi is the co -founder of Connected Development [CODE] popularly known for its Follow The Money Project in Nigeria, and now in other countries in Africa. You can schedule a meeting with him by commenting on this blog post, and via his Twitter handle – @dotunbabayemi

[PRESS RELEASE] Connected Development’s Follow The Money Celebrated as Africa’s Best Initiative on Achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

Oludotun Babayemi April 8, 2017 0

Connected Development [CODE] has won the ONE Africa 2016 Award recognizing, rewarding, and advancing the exceptional work of organisations, founded by Africans and based in Africa, dedicated to helping Africa achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

It’s initiative, Follow The Money, the largest volunteer grassroots movement on transparency and accountability in Africa, emerged winner among three finalists, presented by Bono, the lead singer of the UK group U2, and co-founder of ONE Campaign, during the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Governance forum, that was held on Saturday, April 8, 2017 in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Chief Executive of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal on behalf of the organization, received the award. The Award highlights the dynamism and achievements of African groups and organisations that are building a better future for their communities, countries and continent. “We are super excited to be the recipient of this award and also thankful to ONE Campaign for this great opportunity. This Award restates the continental belief in our rural development works. This we warmly appreciate. And ultimately, this is timely and will be exceedingly utilitarian in broadening our continental impacts through facilitating development in marginalized communities, as well as empowering them to stand up and hold their leaders accountable.” said Lawal who also doubles as the Co-Founder of Follow The Money.

The 2017 Governance Forum which focused on violent extremism and migration, participation and democracy, inclusive economic growth and jobs for youth.  brought together various thought leaders in Africa and the World at Large including the Emir of Kano, HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed; Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan; Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, Former Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala, Africa Development Bank President, Akinwunmi Adeshina, among other dignitaries.

For any press enquiries

Celestina Obiekea

Tel: +234-09-291-7545

Email: celestina@connecteddevelopment.org

Editor’s Note:

Connected Development [CODE] is a non-government organization [NGO] whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Our initiative, Follow The Money advocate, visualize and track government spending and international aid spending in rural communities.

Taming the Monster in the #Nigeria Budget System

Oludotun Babayemi December 27, 2016 1

The most important factor for economic development is not capital, but appropriate policies and institutions

If Nigeria’s population is the 7th largest in the world, and we really, want to grow, then we must not be doing 7.29 trillion Naira, as our budget (Just before you say, it’s only the federal budget, even if you average what the state, and local government present, as budget, it is still not worth it). That’s a paltry 23.9 billion dollars, see below, what the top 10 countries with the highest population, budget for their citizens, at the “federal” level. Coming down home to Africa, Angola with a population of  25 million, has a budget of 38.53 billion dollars. I will advise we start thinking about reducing our population growth – 2 per woman will be most reasonable, at this time, if we “really” want to grow! Japan has done it before, and I am saying, there is no reason why we cannot grow within this top 10 populated countries, it will take time, but we must be decisive, and serious!

2015 budget estimates for other countries are from the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book. The Nigeria Budget estimate is the 2017 proposed figure in the appropriation bill

2015 budget estimates for other countries are from the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book. The Nigeria Budget estimate is the 2017 proposed figure in the appropriation bill.

In the breakdown of the Nigeria 2017 budget, it is expected that only 30.7% will be available for the provision of basic amenities and infrastructures – health facilities, schools, roads, water, while about 40% will be provided for overhead expenses – salaries, travels, office expenses et al. The success of any business in the world lies in its people, and I also mean PEOPLE working in the various government institutions – executive, legislature and judiciary. Ideally, their business is to implement government agenda, policies, projects and programme, but in Nigeria, their performance is appalling. Although this sector employs a larger percentage of employed people, the numbers cannot account for the value it can create. Just as the numbers of ministries were reduced by the Buhari led government, can it also “significantly” reduce the number of people in the public sector, so as to reduce overhead expenses to 20% of the government budget. All Joe Abbah, and the bureau of public service reforms need do, to perform effectively, is to embrace technology and uphold strict staff performance management (and just before you will say, where should the retrenched go – read my blog, on the rice economy or get to the last paragraph). In Nigeria, most people in the public service which comprise of the executive, legislative, and judiciary in federal, state and local government, got to the position, in the spirit of “clientelism”. “They have just finished recruiting in the Nigeria Police, but leave story, they only chose senators, house of reps families and you know the oga at the tops people” affirmed my friend in the Nigeria Police. This needs to stop if we really want to grow!

Many developed and developing countries are still working towards linking performance to public expenditures framework or strategy. If these linkages are not made, there will be no way to determine if the budgetary allocations that the support programs are ultimately supporting are successful. On a lighter mood, I must thank the Budget Office for publishing actual money received by government agencies for capital expenditures (actually there is an open data version of it here), but we should not be thankful for seeing that except, we want to stay like Angola, if we want to grow like Malaysia, we should be publishing tangible outcomes the expenditures in the agencies are achieving. In essence, we should stop the line – item kind of budgeting, and adopt the result-based budgeting system. For instance, if Nigeria needs to produce the 4,700,000 million tonnes of rice, that china imports every year, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning can have an overhead budget from the Ministry of Agriculture for only the number of people that will implement that through a policy paper, coordination and regulation, as they will not be the one to work on the farm. Simple as ABC right? yes! but do you have the political will – (To be continued) in my other story on Nigeria and its National Planning.

 

 

 

How to Grow Your Business: 5 Takeaways From The Omidyar Network Growth Strategy Workshop

Oludotun Babayemi November 30, 2016 0

In 2016 alone, I have attended three re – learning workshops and this was the third, in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. This was my first time in South Africa, and nothing can be more exciting to be finishing the year re-energized, and ready to get 2017 cracking! I have been looking forward to the 3 – day workshop which started on November 28 – 30, 2016 at the Michelangelo Hotel, just because the last 4 months at CODE for me, has been dedicated to our growth strategies, and I know this workshop might affirm or deny various strategies that we have put in place to take the organization forward. Just to state, the 3 days were worth it, and I totally feel ready to get going in 2017, and below are the five things I really feel every entrepreneur should take cognizance of:

  1. Start Organizations to cede the controls: You need to have it at the back of your mind that you are not the owner of any organization you have founded. In Africa and some south Asian countries, many people start businesses and want to hold on to the business, and not cede control of the organization. You should be thinking of exiting the organization in the nearest future, so you can take an advisory role. It will also give you the reality of how the organization you have started looks like in the eyes of clients, beneficiaries and customers. Furthermore, organizations that have their creators, founders, and owners give up the role of CEOs and role of the board become successful, and become a big enterprise.
  2. Hire people that can take the organization to the next level: Once you have tested your product at the early stage ( 2 – 3 years), and it has worked, and you are now thinking of recruiting or adding more people to your venture, please hire people who are more knowledgeable than you do. In Africa, owners of businesses still bring in their families and friends, who cannot fit into the culture of your business (who are not capable), into the business at the early stage, thus stunting the growth of the business.
  3. Plan long term relationship before you recruit: If you rely on hiring through candidates sending CV’s to you, and interviews alone, then you might be wrong, as there are now books and videos that teach how to write excellent CVs, and also websites that hep candidates prepare for interviews . At CODE, we stopped recruiting this way, as 85% of the recruits end up not fitting into the culture and ideologies that the organization share. We found out that most recruits cannot cope with the task at hand, as such, we rely on a 6 – month internship period before you can become a core team in our organization.
  4. Develop yourself faster than your business: As an entrepreneur, you need to grow yourself, even at a faster pace than your business. 95% of people that starts businesses do not understand all stages of growth of their business, and because the kind of approach and thinking for each stage of the business is different, you need to learn more about managing business performance against targets; managing individual performance and growth; how to build and lead an effective board; frequent strategic planning for your business; building processes and business infrastructure to support future business scale and complexity; growing your human capital in line with business needs; prioritize and plan for the most important things, so you can balance work and family.
  5. Avoid scope creep, Focus on developing that one product: For you to achieve the four points with ease, you need to focus on one product, at a time. It takes a time to be good at one thing, so you must dedicate all your time to building that one thing that people like your organization about. It is better to be number one in one thing than to be number 2 in four different areas. This allows you to have time in design thinking of your product, also gives your staff the time to focus on specific tasks and become a perfectionist on it over time. Products such as Facebook, Apple, Microsoft had one thing their founders were thinking of – “improving on their one product, and making it better”.

These and other great learnings at the 3-day workshop was very useful, especially at this stage of growth for CODE itself. As someone that has been facilitating training in the past 10 years, I was impressed with the simplicity of the sequence of the presentation and great facilitation skills exhibited by Jason Goldberg, and the exceptional informational manual created by 10X-e. Omidyar Network‘s idea of human capital, aside the financial capital invested in investees, is a laudable idea, because many times, we all start businesses, ventures, etc without understanding the nitty – gritty or what comes up in the next 7 years, much reason why it is only 5% of start – ups that make it to becoming big enterprise. To all entrepreneurs amongst us, let’s keep grinding and learning – it’s the only thing we can do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The #OpenDataParty in #Kano: A Gathering of Community Champions and Data Enthusiast

Oludotun Babayemi November 25, 2016 0

[ALL PICTURES FROM THIS EVENT CAN BE FOUND AT https://flic.kr/s/aHskMb4xkV ]

It’s the 3rd year in a row of the Connected Development [CODE]’s Open Data Party, and truly, I feel we can do more and better, especially as the community keeps growing. Since 2013, the community of participants, and enthusiasts has grown from 0 in 2013 to 837 in 2016. Wondering what the numbers are – it’s the numbers of participants that have attended our quarterly data training where we teach skills and tools in making data meaningful and useful. At this year large event, we had 122 participants and out of 42 respondents (of our evaluation), 59.5% and 33.3% rated all aspects of the 2 – day hands – on training as excellent and good respectively, while 7.1% rated it has average.

So for so many people, that never knew how the ODP came to eHealth Africa, in Kano, it was our decision to take it to the North West at first, after moving it from the North Central in 2014 to South-South in 2015. We never knew who will help host it this time, but fortunately, during one of my August Break, I caught up with one of my senior colleagues – Lucy Chambers, who invited me for a drink in Maitama. With her colleagues at work, our chit chat mentioned ODP, and she said we should explore the opportunity of eHealth Africa hosting the event. Just some minutes after she mentioned that I remembered how Michael Egbe, in 2014, after the ODP in Abuja, had discussed that we should consider the possibility of hosting this event together with eHealth Africa. I knew this was just it – Many thanks to Anu Parvatiyar, who took the email conversation forward, but unfortunately, could not attend as she was in Maiduguri, as one of the team responding to the recent Polio outbreak in Borno State.

This year event was a little bit different from the past ones in that I did less of control – no thanks to eHealth Africa, and the team that came in from CODE who took their various spaces in handling logistics, accommodation, social media, and the rest; also, we focused mainly on skills and tool shares – a total of 9 skills with 12 tool usage were shared in 14 hours during the 2 – day event; we also scrapped the ideation session which we had last year, as we found out that for us to be able to support ideas, we will need 12 months of mentorship before the winner can execute the plan, and make use of the seed grant effectively – for those that were looking forward to this, we are sorry, we want to focus on sharing the use of tools and skills, Also we were not able to support the winners of the ideation session, as we were not able to support them financially, and technically. We found out that our community champions at Follow the Money needs a yearly community gathering (which was one of the theories of change for Follow The Money), as such we gave more hours to a Follow The Money session, Next year we might have a whole day of community gathering!

The first day witnessed sessions from What data and open Data is – the only session I was able to facilitate, while data pipelines were taken by Precious Onaimo, the current school of data fellow in Nigeria. It was always exciting to see the World Cafe facilitation style been used for one hour each for each session that has Data Scraping tools taken by Precious Onaimo and myself; Mapping using Open Streetmaps by eHealth Africa; Analysing and Creating dashboards with Microsoft Excel by eHealth Africa; Mobile collection of data and data design by Nonso Jideofor of Reboot. The skill session continued on the second day, and skill session included visualising data with Tableau and CartoDB by eHealth Africa, Analysing data with Microsoft Excel by eHealth Africa. Participants commented on how educative most of the sessions were but would have been helpful if training materials had been available to them before the start of the event.

The skill session continued on the second day, and skill session included visualizing data with Tableau and CartoDB by eHealth Africa, Analysing data with Microsoft Excel by eHealth Africa. It was followed by a 3 – hours Follow The Money session where new thinkings about the movement were discussed. Some of the key discussions were the role of community reporters in building their various communities as the movement now has a community champion in all the 36 states and the FCT. Also, the new platform for citizen engagement and participation was unveiled for the community input. The afternoon session of the day was started by eHealth Africa sharing Why they Map, and why mapping is important, it was followed by a community mapping of Chibok, Borno State to make participants gain skills on mapping their own community as well.

Java Printing

 

 

 

How The State of #Colorado Will Vote on #ElectionDay

Oludotun Babayemi November 7, 2016 0

So have you heard about the Colorado Springs? Our team members – Emmanuel Njoku and Babatunde Adegoke are there to observe the United States Presidential Elections in Colorado, on the auspices of Ford Foundation, Independent Republican Institute and the Institute of International Education. On November 7, 2016, They met the Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation – William J. Hybl and his team of very cool people hosted them to a luncheon alongside Secretary of State of Colorado – Wayne Williams, and some wonderful young observers from South Africa, Botswana and Namibia at the prestigious Penrose House in Colorado Springs, where they discussed Leadership, Democracy, Governance and the November 8, 2016, presidential elections and processes that have been put in place to ensure that the polls is credible and trusted by all.

State of Colorado

From right, Colorado Secretary of State, Emmanuel Njoku, Tunde Adegoke and a state representative during a meeting on November 4 at the Broadway

Interestingly, they were informed that the State of Colorado has about 3.5million registered voters, and about 2.6million of these people are expected to vote, of which 2 million of these votes have already been cast, which simply means that just about 600,000 persons will be voting during the elections today across the 64 Counties(LGA) of Colorado. So that you know, you can cast your vote 21 days before the real election day!

This early voting practised in the state of Colorado will completely eliminate all the pressure that usually will be witnessed on a typical election day. This brings me back to Nigeria, where elections are held in one day, and the economy of the whole country is put to a halt, due to the elections. Perhaps, the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) should take a cue, and leverage technology to make voting possible even before the election day.

State of Colorado

Group picture of African Observers meeting with the Secretary of State of Colorado at the El Pomar Foundation

That sounds like a pinch of salt, right? if INEC is to achieve this feat, it must yield to a whole change management system which should be initiated by the leadership of INEC. Again, I will not subscribe to lack of funds as an excuse, INEC only needs few dedicated experts  that can always look up to the leadership for unflinching support in providing a methodology and system that allows for early voting. Unfortunately, I just remembered, INEC is still struggling with the registration of voters like myself, while you can register on the day of elections in the state of Colorado – See you in 2019!

 

The Future We See Through the Open Government Partnership in #Nigeria

Oludotun Babayemi October 25, 2016 0

“Amongst the 70 member countries of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), African countries has the most ambitious commitments, and also has the least number of implementations of their commitment as seen in the independent reporting mechanism but Nigeria can reverse that order as the country has made huge commitment at the London Corruption Summit and hopes to make it tandem with its anti-corruption campaign in the country” says Sanjay Pradhan during the first day of the OGP retreat in Nigeria on October 24, 2016 at the Hotel Seventeen in Kaduna .

The OGP CEO, Sanjay Pradhan making a presentation on OGP

The OGP CEO, Sanjay Pradhan making a presentation on OGP during the retreat in Nigeria

Looking at the panel to discuss commitments around the Nigeria OGP National Action Plan, I was deluded by the fact that the government representatives except for two, were not appropriate enough to discuss pertinent issues around beneficial ownership, open budget, open contracting,  transparency in extractives, access to information, and open data.  I quite  understand that the people in authority, in this ministries are hard to get for such conversation, but if it were really a “government – driven initiative” we should be seeing them coming to talk about these issues in the public.

I would have expected to see Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning making commitments of publishing online, location – based infrastructure data with their baseline indicators (current state) to the public by December 2017, so this can aid better planning; also the out-spoken Funmi Adeosun, the Minister for Finance committing that “detailed” government spending will be made available to the public by default as from November 2017, and also that the Bureau of Public Procurement will upgrade their website to include procurement plans, tender notices, bid evaluation,contract award documents, and termination information, while connecting it to a citizen feedback platform that can help make sure projects are really been implemented by contractors.

Nevertheless, there were some takeaways from the panel Joe Abbah, of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms had stated that by 2019, all FOIA request will be responded to in 2 minutes! In – fact, they have started something that looks like that in the Bureau, if you want to request for an information from the government, [APPLY HERE] I am sure you are all looking forward to this, it might not be rocket science! Also, the representative from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) mentioned that for beneficial ownership to work, the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Companies and Allied Matter Act must be amended immediately to disclose beneficial ownership of companies, and not just the publishing of company names that are registered with the CAC which anyways, is a step in the right direction.

Looking across the Panel of government + CSOs

Looking across the Panel of government + CSOs

But why does it take the government a longer time than the 7 days proposed in the law to get a response to an FOIA request, the representative from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning stated that the oath of secrecy signed by civil servants prevents most of them to disclose information requested for through the FOIA. That’s so unimaginable! However, Joe Abbah, stated clearly, that we need to amend the public service rules because civil servants abide by rules and not laws!

My worry is not that leadership in the executive arm of government would not come out and make commitments, my worry is that implementing such commitment on the basis of a system that would not allow it to work efficiently is the reality, and such is the case for most African countries. As much as this becomes a drawback for me in this “government – CSO “driven movement, I am certain that few positives might be recorded, as we have started seeing from the Ministry of Justice, the agent of the state where the OGP is domiciled in Nigeria.