Follow The Money Makes Top 3 in Mobilizer Category of 2019 United Nations SDG Action Awards!

Titus Tukurah April 18, 2019 0

Credit: SDG Action Awards

Follow The Money, an initiative of Connected Development that tracks national governments’ and foreign assistance spending to empower citizens – including marginalized communities- to hold governments to account for their commitments, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2019 Sustainable Development Action Awards!

This announcement which was recently made by the SDG Action Awards Global Project Leader, Laura Hildebrandt, revealed that this year’s selection process was harder than ever with more than 2000 excellent applications from 142 countries. 3 finalists have been selected for each of the 7 categories representing initiatives based in all world regions: Arab States, Lebanon, Africa Malawi, Nigeria (2) South Africa (3), the Americas (Peru, Brazil, Haiti and USA), Asia (India (2), Malaysia, and the Philippines) and Europe (Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland).

Follow The Money was one of the 3 initiatives in the finalist category of Mobilisers. Other categories are Storytellers, Campaigners, Connectors, Visualizers, Includers and Creatives. The finalists in each category will present their achievements at the UN SDG Global Festival of Action.

According to the Founder of Follow The Money, and Chief Executive of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal, “we are excited to have been nominated among the top  21 initiatives showing how innovation, creativity and commitment lead to impactful SDG Actions from over 2000 entries of amazing organizations & initiatives around the globe. We are honoured that our social mobilization efforts are being recognised by the United Nations and are committed to ensuring that the sustainable global goals are achieved in Nigeria, other African countries and beyond.

Lawal added that Finalists are now being reviewed by a judging panel of over 20 experts that will select the top initiative in each category. Everyone has the chance to act by supporting their favourite entry for the People’s Choice Award. We urge our fellow colleagues in the development space and Nigerians to help bring this award home by liking and retweeting Follow The Money mentions on SDG Action Awards social media accounts. We will join other world leaders in Bonn, Germany in May where the winners will be announced.

Every year, the UN SDG Action Campaign opens the SDG Action Awards to call for the top individuals, civil society organizations, subnational governments, foundations, networks, private sector leaders who are advancing the global movement for the Sustainable Development Goals in the most transformative, impactful and innovative way.

Follow The Money which started in Nigeria over seven years ago, has chapters in Kenya, The Gambia, Cameroon and Liberia. As the largest social mobilization & accountability movement in Africa, it has advocated, visualized and tracked USD 10 million meant for social development across African grassroots communities, impacting directly over 2,000,000 rural lives. F

CODE’s Final Report on 2019 Nigerian Presidential Election Observation and Way Forward

Titus Tukurah March 13, 2019 0

CODE is a Non-Governmental Organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Its Follow The Money initiative tracks government and international aid spending in rural communities to ensure and promote open government and service delivery. Since 2012, CODE has tracked an estimate of USD 1 million (in budgeted sums for projects) across 100 communities in over 25 Nigerian states, improving over 1 million rural lives. 

CODE is an INEC Accredited Observer for the 2019 Nigerian General Elections. CODE observed electoral processes in Kenya in 2013, Nigeria in 2015 and the USA in 2016, seeking to ensure peaceful electoral process, promote national reconciliation and improve quality of elections in these countries.

______________________________________________________________________________

Introduction

Connected Development presents, today, its Final Report on the Nigerian 2019 Presidential Election that held 23 February 2019. The report is being presented by the Head of Mission, CODE Election Observation team, Hamzat Lawal, to members of the press, the government, civil society groups, political parties and other national stakeholders.

The aim of this report is to recount findings by our tech election observation platform Uzabe mapping tool to national stakeholders, highlight recommendations which CODE believes can impact on the improvement of a more credible electoral process in Nigeria in the future.

We have also proposed recommendations for consideration by the Independent National Electoral Commission and relevant stakeholders on how to further improve future elections. These recommendations are offered to help address a number of the shortfalls outlined on Uzabe and to serve as benchmarks for assessing the commitment of the current administration in advancing democracy in Nigeria. 

Uzabe Findings and Analysis

In preparation for the Nigerian 2019 Nigerian Presidential and National Assembly Elections, Connected Development [CODE], launched Uzabe, a real-time (web-based map) situation technology, for gathering real-time security intelligence and observing the electoral process. With Uzabe mapping tool, CODE established early warning systems for communities and voters; and strengthened mitigation and emergency response during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Uzabe received over 3,887 reports from on-the-ground observers and online social sentiment analysts. From these reports, Uzabe established about 453 election incidents across 34 States of the Federation and the FCT. Uzabe recorded issues of electoral violence, voter suppression, security personnel and party agents influencing ballots of voters, vote buying, underage voting and destruction of voting materials in Lagos, Bayelsa, Rivers, Kogi, Taraba, Bauchi, Kebbi, Borno and Yobe, leading to death of civilians. 

Operations and Logistics Issues:

Logistics and operational issues were prevalent despite the fact that they were the reason for the postponement of elections. Uzabe recorded 137 cases of logistics and operational issues at many polling units across the country. For example; INEC officials in some States in the South-East and South-West did not arrive the polling stations until 12 pm and commencement of voting started at 2 pm and 4pm in some regions of Akwa Ibom. There were also records of missing stamp, card reader issues, delay of voting processes, causing INEC to extend voting to Sunday as means of covering for lost hours 

Security Issues:

Security remain a prevalent challenge confronting the nation’s growth; and electorates should not have to die or lose loved ones at the cost of participating in the electoral process. As an accredited observer, we are disheartened at the poor level of preparedness shown by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] to conduct a violence-free election, despite the week-long postponement of the election to allow for adequate logistics and security readiness.

CODE strongly condemns election-based violence which resulted in the burning of thumb-printed ballot papers in Isolo local government area in Lagos, killing of a young voter at a polling unit in Dekina Local Government, Kogi State; death of two persons in Nembe, Bayelsa, death of 16 persons in Rivers and injuries of citizens.

The Nigerian Police stated that it would be responsible for the protection of electorates and would deploy at least 3 police officers at the 119,973 polling units across the country; however, this level of preparedness was not reflected as Uzabe recorded many polling units having 1 security agent attached, and in some places, there were none. On a positive note, there were reports of security agents restoring the peace, in areas where suspected political thugs tried to incite violence.

Uzabe situation room provided emergency incidents to security agents including the Nigerian police, ensuring minimal violence due to military deployments across the country. Uzabe platform helped mobilise security in some polling units to erase the tendency of violence. 

Bomb blasts rocked the North-East on election morning, however, Nigerians still came out en mass to vote. This is the resilient Nigerian spirit we commend. Over a million votes were cancelled because they did not meet voting standards. We implore INEC and political parties to do better in educating voters on the voting process. A few people could not travel to vote, contributing to the low turnout of voters. we believe the #NotTooYoungtoVote mandate encouraged young people to come out to cast their votes, as expressed in the elected candidates for the House of Representatives. We are still analysing the demography of voters to note the percentage of youth who voted. 

CODE would like to emphasize that Uzabe is not keen on results but rather observing the electoral process and analysing issues that are critical to running a fair electoral process.

Recommendations

  1. CODE suggests that in order to enhance confidence in the election process, INEC’s complete autonomy must be strengthened to ensure it provides more effective and objective electoral process. We seek to see an INEC that is decentralised to avoid issues of logistics and operational issues.
  2. INEC must develop result-management process using competent and secure technology; and must provide a more conducive environment for collating results in regions.
  3. There should be policies and regulations guiding campaign financing to enhance accountability of political candidates and also legal measures should be introduced to address abuse of state resources.
  4. INEC must introduce reforms that allow for Nigerians in the diaspora to vote the candidate of their choice.
  5. Under-age voting is a violation of the Nigerian constitution and it is prevalent in some regions of the country. INEC must work to curb this issue as it serves as an indictment on the credibility of election process and ultimately a threat to our democracy.
  6. Appropriate authorities should investigate all allegations of violence and cases of violent acts, as well as vandalism and destruction of election materials and electorates’ properties, in accordance with the rule of law, and perpetrators held legally responsible.
  7. Party agents must learn to be cordial irrespective of political differences and must desist from inciting election-violence. Government must apply punitive measures in prosecuting criminals and perpetrators of election-based violence.
  8. Security agents must do better in protecting lives and properties of the electorate and ensure lives are not lost during the electoral process. We cannot keep addressing issues of electoral violence except we adequately prepare for these contingencies.

We, however commend INEC, for allowing the will of the people to be heard, and for remaining firm on her duty regardless of pressure from political actors that want to truncate the electoral process. We urge citizens to support INEC, particularly the Resident Electoral Commissioners, and they should come out en mass to vote their candidate of choice for the gubernatorial elections. 

CODE would like to acknowledge the commitment made by various volunteers —the field observers who sent in reports to Uzabe for public awareness to ensure transparency; their time and resources were critical to the conduct of an objective electoral process. CODE also commends Nigerians, particularly her youth, for their loyalty and resilience in the face of insurmountable pressure. This election was a test of the magnanimity of Nigeria’s democratic consolidation.

CODE hereby calls on opposition parties and other stakeholders to act responsibly, to pursue peaceful and legal resolution of their grievances and to uphold the integrity of the political and electoral process.

For Media Enquiries, contact Kevwe Oghide, Communications Lead, Connected Development via kevwe@connecteddevelopment.org

Why Social Justice is Critical to Election Process

Titus Tukurah March 13, 2019 2

Kevwe Precious Oghide

As Nigerians await results of the Presidential and national house of assembly elections, it is important that we do not lose focus of social justice and fairness at all level. The declaration of fairness at work by the International Labour Organisation addresses fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue and fundamental principles and rights at work.

Fairness at work is about obtaining freedom, equity, security and human dignity in conditions of work. It stands against inequality and discrimination—allowing for a work environment that thrives on productivity, having a voice in the workplace and the community. Fairness and rights at work also rides on gender equality, resolving issues around balancing work and family life, enabling women to make choices and take control of their lives. 

In some extreme cases, fairness at work is about moving from subsistence to existence. Having a job, does not guarantee decent living. Not to address the disheartening rate of unemployment in Nigeria, there is a high percentage of employed persons who still cannot afford basic needs. Many people are taking up menial jobs that are characterized with low pay, poor working conditions, health and safety hazards and poor access to social protection system. This percentage of people are experiencing a lack of material well-being, economic security, equal opportunities and basic human security.

In Nigeria today, there is a huge deficit expressed in the absence of employment opportunities, denial of fairness at work and inadequate social protection. Many Nigerians are appalled by the Country’s position as a top leader in the number of people living in extreme poverty. Massive voters’ turnout is largely due to the desire to secure a better Nigeria. We are seeking change in the areas of social justice, economic opportunity, welfare upgrade, environmental protection, health benefits and an overall improved standard of living of the average Nigerian.

Although, there have been recounts of violence in some polling units across the country, people are boldly pushing back, reasserting themselves, regardless of threats and intimidations. What we are witnessing now appears to be a powerful flash of resilience and patriotism.

Also, in the pursuit of social justice, older generation are working to securing the future of their children. Child labour, in its worst form, robs a child of their education, their health, their future and even their lives. Children in rural communities are often marginalized when it comes to getting basic education. Government officials charged with implementing schools and healthcare projects in these communities often embezzle funds, widening the gap between rural and urban children, and further depriving rural children of their right to education, as well as work with higher pay, in the future. 

In addressing social justice in this context, Connected Development’s Follow The Moneyinitiative is empowering rural communities with data and accessible technology to track government spending on education, health, water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, so rural dwellers can hold governments at national and sub-national levels accountable, ensuring improved service delivery.

Good governance allows for the creation of quality jobs, better job opportunities, leading to better incomes and an improved standard of living of the average person. It also allows for a system where children have the opportunity to receive basic education. The ripple effect is evident in more unified and equitable societies that are important to preventing violence and conflicts. 

As votes are being collated across the nation, this is a moment of reflection, but also a renewed fire in our hearts, as we begin to assess the need to hold government accountable, demanding that they do better in ensuring social welfare of the average Nigerian. Young people, especially, must recognise that they are the key to future elections and the antidote to whatever fear, hatred and intolerance may lie ahead.

The aspiration for social justice, through which every working man and woman can claim freely and on the basis of equality of opportunity, their fair share of the wealth which they have helped to generate, is quite strong in recent times. CODE is convinced that no lasting peace is assured without an egalitarian system and will keep working with partners to support and promote social justice, one community at a time.

#NigeriaDecides2019: Nigerian Youths are Protecting our Democracy Using Uzabe Technology for Elections Observation

Titus Tukurah March 12, 2019 2

“Voting is not only our right—it is our power” – Loung Ung

A democratic government is birthed by a fair electoral process. Ensuring the integrity and security of the election process is essential for the functioning of democracy in Nigeria and is a shared responsibility among citizens.

However, outcomes of elections in Nigeria have planted seeds of doubt in credibility, and disparity in the minds of Nigerian citizens. People no longer see the need to vote, knowing that political parties will desperately seek to win by discrediting the votes of the people and influencing the election outcomes. Overtime, trust has dwindled and electoral processes have become ridden with corruption and self-enrichment. The disaster herein is that when we do not come out to vote, we leave room for bad government officials to be elected, consequently giving credence to poor educational policies; economic downturn; difficulty in doing business and inaccessibility to basic human amenities like water, sanitation and hygiene. 

Lyndon B. Johnson once said that “A man without a vote is a man without protection;” voting in the wrong people opens the door for our security to be jeopardized.

Some individuals and organisations who are concerned for our democracy have now risen to the challenge of ensuring transparency and accountability during the 2019 General Elections scheduled to hold on the 16th of February and 2nd of March 2019.

Connected Development [CODE], a Non-Governmental Organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa, has launched a real-time (web-based map) situation technology, Uzabe, that would capture election processes happening across the 36 States of Nigeria.

CODE, a civil society organisation that was selected by the Independent National Electoral Commission as an accredited observer for the 2019 General Elections, will be using Uzabe technology tool to strengthen citizens participation and engagement in the electoral process, while also protecting the Nigerian democracy. CODE, through Uzabe, will provide real-time reports on security intelligence that would strengthen mitigation and emergency response during violence and establish early warning systems for vulnerable communities.

How Uzabe Works:

On election day, trained observers, volunteers and witnesses will report to Uzabe any electoral related incidences using either Uzabe hashtags on all social media platforms like twitter, facebook, Instagram; and also, directly uploading feeds to the Uzabe website. These reports are then received by the hundreds of volunteers who will structure, geo-reference, and verify them. Afterwards, the reports are visualized and made public on a map, timeline, and stats board at uzabe.org. 

Citizens can report on a successful vote and also report issues such as voter suppression, ballot issues, or violence via Uzabe mapping tool. The platform allows citizens and election observers to report from the ground via many channels such as email, SMS, twitter and embeddable web forms. Uzabe is user friendly and includes the ability to easily send and receive text and images and interaction with structured messages. 

CODE’s Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, stated that the result of this launch is that electoral and response organisations have a new channel to monitor electoral incidences; and citizens have an easy to use tool to capture and report critical information during the 2019 general elections. 

According to Lawal, riding on CODE’s participation in observing electoral processes since 2013 in Kenya, 2015 in Nigeria and 2016 in the USA, the Organisation seeks to, again, ensure peaceful electoral process, promote national reconciliation and improve quality of elections in Nigeria using Uzabe technology tools.  

Through this platform CODE intends to contribute its quota to peace-building by providing the technology tool to enhance a free, fair, peaceful and credible 2019 general election by increasing transparency and accountability through active citizen participation in the electoral cycle.

According to him, Uzabe strengthens citizens participation and give situation and iWitness report from all polling units in real-time.

Connected Development [CODE] is a Non-Governmental Organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Its Follow the Money initiative tracks government and international aid spending in rural engagement in deciding a better future for our country. The technology platform helps the Nigerian citizens to communities to ensure and promote open government and service delivery. Since 2012, we have tracked an estimate of USD 1 million (in budgeted sums for projects) across 100 communities in over 25 Nigerian states, improving over 1 million rural lives. 

#NigeriaDecides2019: CODE Launches Real-Time-Situation Technology Tool

Titus Tukurah March 12, 2019 4

Geared towards ensuring transparency and accountability during the forthcoming general elections, Connected Development [CODE] has launched a Real-Time (Web-Based Map) Situation Technology, Uzabe, that would observe and report the presidential and gubernatorial elections right as it is happening.

CODE has partnered with technology giant, Ushahidi, on using Uzabe as an Open Situation Awareness Room (OSAR) for gathering real-time security intelligence and observing the electoral process. With Uzabe mapping tool, CODE will establish early warning systems for communities and voters; and strengthen mitigation and emergency response during elections.

Riding on CODE’s participation in observing electoral processes since 2013 in Kenya, 2015 in Nigeria and 2016 in the USA, the Organisation seeks to, again, ensure peaceful electoral process, promote national reconciliation and improve quality of elections in Nigeria using Ushahidi technology tools. 

The Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, expressed enthusiasm about the impact of Uzabe in promoting transparency and accountability in the 2019 General Elections observation. According to him, Uzabe will strengthen citizens’ participation and engagement in deciding a better future for our country. The technology platform helps the Nigerian citizens to give   situation and iWitness report from all polling units, across the 36 States, in real-time.

Lawal stated that “using Uzabe technology tool to observe election and report intelligence, is a way of protecting our democracy. Our intention is to provide real-time reports on security intelligence that would strengthen fair electoral processes, mitigation and emergency response during violence and establish early warning systems for vulnerable communities.”

CODE is a Non-Governmental Organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Its Follow The Money initiative tracks government and international aid spending in rural communities to ensure and promote open government and service delivery. Since 2012, CODE has tracked an estimate of USD 1 million (in budgeted sums for projects) across 100 communities in over 25 Nigerian states, improving over 1 million rural lives. 

International Women’s Day: A CAREER WOMAN IN A MAN’S WORLD

Titus Tukurah March 8, 2019 1

Photo of women in Waru Community

By: Hyeladzira James Mshelia

Gender issues continue to plague our World. Generally, women are mostly at a disadvantage and their roles and contributions to society are often marginalised. We have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, limited access to basic education, greater health and safety risk. We often experience career interruptions as a result of being the primary caregiver at the home front, and our battle against slow occupation growth is far from being won.

In public affairs, women have to fight for a seat at the table, and when we do get a seat, the vocal ones among us are often silenced. Little wonder, ‘too ambitious’, ‘bossy’ and ‘assertive’, are adjectives used to describe a woman rightfully taking what’s her due. Research shows that women are victims of rape and sexual assault at the workplace. Psychologists, Potter and Banyard reported that 38% of employed women had experienced sexual harassment at the workplace.

If your interest and competence take you to a job role that is traditionally for men, your achievements may not count because you are a woman. Today, pseudo-conservative societies and cultures believe a woman cannot be beautiful and smart at the same time.

While there is a lot of awareness and consciousness with addressing issues of gender inequality, it is important to further emphasise that women are still at a disadvantage and the kinds of policies that entrench this mentality are misguided. It is important for gender mainstreaming in the public and private sectors, backed with policies that can help address issues that place women at a disadvantage.

As a woman switching between entrepreneurship and multicultural workplaces, my growth has not been devoid of ‘gender bias’ challenges. I have attended workshops where my questions were either ignored or the answer was addressed to the man seated next to me. I have had customers that refused to buy my perfumes because they believed a woman should not be ‘that industrious.’

Nevertheless, I’ve not let that hold me back. I do not believe that just because I’m female, I cannot reach the same heights that my male counterparts can. Thus, despite the marginalisation, women have proven to be much more– mothers, farmers, managers, chief executives of multinationals, decision-makers, governors,, breadwinners and wives. There is absolutely no end to what a woman can achieve.

There should be a balance in our society where women can do just as much as men. Women should be given equal opportunities at the workplace and organisations should actively drive diversity and inclusion where policies are also in favour of women. There should be free career trainings for women, and use of gender neutral titles in job descriptions. Organisations should state their  family-friendly benefits, parental leave and child care subsidies benefit families and future base of employees.

Women are taking charge, making decisions, and leading successful businesses around the world. But even with these successes, it can feel like an uphill battle to climb your way to the top. In celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, the race is on for gender balance where men and women have equal rights in the workplace, in public affairs, at home, and in the society in general. The success mantra for men as well as women is the same so women deserve equality.


MY ACCOUNTING JOURNEY: FOLLOWING THE FOLLOW THE MONEY TEAM

Titus Tukurah June 28, 2018 0

As a child, I loved playing the “Profession” game. From around the neighbourhood, kids will huddle together in a circle, and randomly pick a profession they dream of becoming, with rhythmic clapping and dancing. The trick was that the person who mentioned a profession already mentioned is knocked out of the circle until there are two or three kids still in the circle. It was a thing of pride to be one of the “last-kids-standing”. To always be a part of the winning kids, I felt sticking to a profession that was unique and not easily remembered, was the trick.

This began my journey to becoming an accountant. Thus, even though I was meant to be in Science class back in secondary school, I opted for the social sciences, because “accountant” stuck on my mind, and my love for figures and numbers wouldn’t go away. I knew accounting was what I wanted and there was no going back. Through hard work and passion, I won best in class in secondary school and this drove me to major in Accounting. With scientific evidence of working hard already playing out in my life, I further made a decision of not just being a pragmatic accounting graduate but a pragmatic chartered accountant.

The ICAN journey was not easy. It involved closing from work and going for evening classes, hence, I barely had a life outside preparations for the exams because I was struggling with office deliverables and reading for my exams. I knew the fulfilment and benefits I will get from being a Chartered accountant- including, improved capacity to effectively manage an entity or country from the financial perspective. However, it required herculean financial and time resources, of which I had constraints.

At last, on May 9, 2018, I overcame all the hurdles and was inducted as an Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) with  The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Apart from hard work, I was blessed with amazing tutors, a supporting family, friends and Connected Development (CODE). Working with the CODE team so far, has enabled me to hone my accounting skills. CODE has given me the opportunity to meet with professional mentors who have also motivated me to strive to be the best in my profession. I have also had the opportunity to train staff in order to improve their expense reconciliation skills and ensure they have basic financial management knowledge. Also, my interaction with other departments such as the Programmes and Community Engagement units has availed me the opportunity to learn programme roles and responsibilities in order to effectively carry out my duties in financial project management, such as project budgeting and financial reporting.

Follow The Money which is an initiative of CODE; tracks, advocates and visualises government spending in rural communities. Through this, we ensure rural dwellers have access to education, health, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Basically, we make sure the government is accountable to its citizens. As the accountant and internal control specialist, I follow the “follow-the-money” team to ensure our organisation is accountable to rural communities – the bane of our existence, and our donors all around the world.  Hence, I am the Chief Follow The Money Specialist.

Accounting has allowed me to grow and learn both professionally and personally. Although it is a competitive field, it offers fantastic opportunities for career progression in different organizations, industries and countries. Accounting is not only the commercial language of an organization it is also at the centre of ever-changing business dynamics and management practices.

However, we don’t have to be “official” or possess “full technical capacity” to hold our governments accountable. It is important for us to track government spending within our communities in order to ensure sustainable development for all. A great way to start is to join ifollowthemoney.org. Have you done that? Sign up today!

Three Nights at the Yankari Games Reserve in Bauchi, Nigeria: A Retreat Experience

Titus Tukurah August 31, 2017 0

Retreats allow organizations to develop or review their mandate. To this effect, Connected Development (CODE) organized a 3 (three) day retreat from August 20 to 22, 2017 for members of the organization. This retreat is the first of its kind in the organisation. It was organized to encourage team bonding and establish the strategy for scaling the organization’s Follow The Money project.

But how do you strategize with Baboons, Warthogs, and Waterbuck flocking around your living area? Not to forget, this happened in a Games Reserve. Does this mean we can as well learn from how animals bond with themselves? Yes, we did, no thanks to the morning drills led by Anthony Agbor, one of the trustees at CODE, who mimicked the team building exercises to reflect people – people interactions, and interpersonal respect for nature. And talking about life, the underground water challenge won by Michael Etta, will ever live in the memories of everyone that swam in the Wiki Warm Springs. It actually allowed us to understand that there are some people amidst us, that were aquaphobic, while some broke that jinx at the spring.

Amidst the play and excitement, we had two presentation sessions focused on establishing the mandate of the organization, while the second was on Personality and Character Reformation. The first session led by Oludotun Babayemi reiterated CODE’s mission as is empowering marginalized while- envisioning a world where everyone, even  in remote part of the world can hold their government accountable was agreed as the organization’s vision.

Second Session was led by Anthony on personality development. Tony stated that the title of his session was bore out of the fact that everyone’s expectation from the retreat is bonding, He noted that understanding oneself and others will help us connect with the mission and vision statement of CODE, like he said ‘I am built to shape people and to build communities’, therefore if you identify with yourself and know who you are, people will definitely look for you. He went further to say that the retreat therefore provided us with the atmosphere to think because if you cannot think you cannot take action or your actions will be limited, we here at CODE are looking at how to help marginalised communities, we are not the marginalised but we think on how to help those that are marginalised.

The culture of follow the money is born out of passion, We are who we are because of what we think and as such every human being is an architect of his/her society  therefore our society now is CODE, we have to study how CODE works, the word for a true society is ‘’Unity in Diversity’’ this means our little contribution can stabilise a society, the beauty we have as a people is our unique attribute. People who are recognised are people who stood firmly on what they believe in, and that is what CODE is asking for, so that we can stand on the 3R’s (Recognition, Respect and Reputation). The community feedback session led by Halima Baba, another trustee, involved team members talking about their experience, lessons learnt, and recommendations. ‘I use to think retreat are only for board members, management team and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), but it was a rare privilege to interact with the board members’ bonding with people from different part of the country and religion, coming together to establish the mission and vision of the organisation while resolving to uphold the CODE culture, but most importantly act as a family.

For me, It was an amazing experience that renewed the passion for the CODE culture. Likewise bonding with the board members, and every other staff, just like everyone did, reinvigorated my understanding of unique personality traits. This is one retreat that the memories will remain fresh in the mind of all that attended.

CELEBRATING WOMEN ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

Titus Tukurah March 14, 2017 1

International Women’s day , March 8 is a day set aside to celebrate social, political, cultural,and economical achievement for women around the world. The theme for this year is women in the changing world of work, Planet 50:50 by 2030 while the goal is to ensure actors step up gender equality towards a planet where world of work works for all women. This requires that policies should be set in place to promote and protect women in their workplace and the economy at large, bridging gender gap and promoting gender parity.

To commemorate this year’s IWD, African Youth Initiative on Population, Health, and Development (AfrYPoD) organised an event co-sponsored by eight (8) other organisations including Connected Development (CODE). This event brought together people from different youth led and women centered organisations. The 3- hour long event was interesting, event filled and informative. It covered experience sharing from all the organisations present, organisations were asked to share experiences on how they have taken bold steps in helping women cater for the welfare as well as promoting women’s right.

Connected Development was not left out as we highlighted how we use our ‘Follow the Money project’ to track funds meant for rural communities, projects like-  the World bank funds for the Girl child education project in five northeastern states in Nigeria and the clean cook stove project, these projects were highlighted as they are gender specific.

The highlight of the event apart from the experience sharing was when Connected Development officially launched her report on “An examination of girls’ education in Nigeria and Follow the money 2016 report and Project Pink Blue’s Nigerian language translation of Breast cancer materials for women. Resolutions from participants include increased sensitization and drive advocacy for the domestication of Violence against person’s prohibition Act in states while promoting women empowerment.

I was particularly excited to have attended the event, seeing young, vibrant, and intelligent  women ready to take up challenging roles and working towards the actualization of planet 50:50. Moreso,  the men present pledged their support towards helping us achieve gender equality.

It was a rich, informative and engaging event  and I was particularly inspired to #BeBoldforChange and proud to be a woman.

 

The challenging and exciting part of NGO accounting at Grassroots

Titus Tukurah February 9, 2017 0

So many persons believe that practicing accounting in a not-for profit is challenging, boring and annoying, however, I beg to differ with the last two adjectives. Working as the Finance Officer at Connected Development [CODE]  has been both challenging and exciting at the same time.

Okay we know Accounting is the art of identifying, recording, classifying and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events, which are in part at least, of a financial character and interpreting the results thereof to make informed decisions. while Financial reporting has to do with reporting transactions and providing receipts so as to justify every transaction made while adhering to the seven principles of financial management for Non Governmental Organizations which encompass stewardship, accountability, viability, transparency, integrity, accounting standards and consistence.

For credibility purpose when reporting, you will always be expected  to provide receipt to justify every item included in the financial report. Getting receipts which shows proof of payment can be somewhat difficult especially when dealing with people in rural communities or trying to suggest the use of cheapest means of expenditure to them, but I thought, why not create a system that would work for me and by extension the organization. CODE’s mission is to empower marginalized communities which results to the focus of most of our projects in rural communities. Working with people in rural communities can be challenging but the quicker you can get a system that will work for you, the better, instead of preventable oscillations.

In order to create a working system, I devised a mechanism of developing a form receipting. This receipt does not necessarily carry the “typed organisation’s letter headed” document but a form where it can be handwritten and signed by parties involved.I also developed what I termed the “unreceipted” transport claim document where community reporters would have to list out all local transportation expenses incurred during the course of the the respective projects such as canoe fares, bike fares, buses etc. This is in an effort to ease reporting for me and to justify every single penny leaving the organisation’s purse.

After all, in accounting, reconciliation is the process of ensuring that the balances of two account are in agreement through making sure that money budgeted would later reconcile with  the actual money spent, whether it was over-budgeted or under-budgeted. One of the ways in which reconciliation can take place is  examining/matching existing records and receipts for effective documentation.

So you see NGO accounting is not so difficult especially when the personnel involved can deploy strategies and creativity for quality accounting. Next time you think NGO accounting is boring, challenging and annoying, think again – In fact I can emphatically say it is interesting, yeah it can be challenging but exciting.