Category: blogs

From Virtual Internship to Real-world Impact: Our CODE Story

Communications May 13, 2024 0

By Alice, Noor and Rabiee

In a world increasingly reliant on technology, harnessing its power for social good has become paramount. Our enriching experience collaborating with Connected Development (CODE), has had a transformative impact on our journey and we’ve tried our best to capture the moments here. 

For us, CODE transcends the traditional notion of a workplace; it functions as a diverse community that nurtures individual development, enhances staff skills, and places a high value on the well-being of its employees. Through our three months of research, we got the chance to explore topics such as Nigeria’s climate finance plans, artificial intelligence, and education. Members of the CODE team have guided us with warmth, support, and endless kindness, helping us to develop relevant ideas that could benefit people at the grassroots. This has, in turn, allowed us to grow as individuals, academics, and budding researchers. 

We were drawn to CODE’s innovative approach, utilising platforms like social media and mobile technology to engage citizens and catalyse grassroots movements. One of the most rewarding aspects of working with CODE is witnessing the tangible impact of their initiatives in empowering marginalized communities. Through projects like FollowTheMoney, we’ve seen firsthand how communities are mobilised to demand transparency and accountability from policymakers. Furthermore, CODE’s commitment to inclusivity and collaboration has been inspirational. We have rarely witnessed such a thriving office culture with employees at all levels speaking their minds and being listened to by the rest of the team. It was refreshing for us to see. 


“I have enjoyed my experience at CODE so much and value the three months I have spent working with Dr. Augustine and the rest of the team. I initially had some reservations about working remotely from London and how this would impact my interactions with the team but, with the wonderful support that Noor, Rabiee, and I have received from CODE, it has often felt like we were in Abuja with the rest of the office. It is rare to encounter a workplace whose values of community and empowerment translate throughout the organisation and I want to thank the team for this excellent opportunity.”

Alice Allfrey


“My time at CODE has been enriching in more ways than I could have imagined. Through weekly meetings with Dr. Augustine, workshops with Mustafa, and frequent contact with the rest of the team, I have truly felt a sense of belonging. Although my work has been online with my co-researchers, Alice and Rabiee, the team at CODE never let me feel the distance. I have grown both professionally and personally, and I am truly grateful to have gotten the chance to work at CODE.”

Noor Dhingra


“From the very start, CODE welcomed us with open arms. Despite the virtual nature of our placement, the team’s warmth and inclusivity made us feel like valued members from day one. Their dedication to fostering a collaborative community shines through in every aspect of their work.  I’ve been consistently impressed by the open communication, support, and genuine care they show for each team member’s development. This placement has deepened my research skills and ignited a passion for using data and technology as tools for positive social change. Working alongside my colleagues, Noor and Alice, has been an absolute highlight – their insights, dedication, and collaborative spirit have enriched the experience immensely. I’m especially grateful for Dr. Augustine’s guidance and mentorship; his commitment and CODE’s supportive environment have created a truly empowering learning experience.”

Rabiee Ibrahim

Our journey with CODE has been nothing short of transformative. To see how highly CODE values community activism and empowerment gives us great hope for the future, particularly in a world that faces more and more complex obstacles to reaching a more equitable society.

We look forward to doing more.


Communications April 2, 2024 0

By Ifunanya Okeke

As I reach my one-year milestone at Connected Development (CODE), I cast my mind back to that special day when I first joined the team. I remember waking up that morning with a mix of happiness, nervousness, and a strong sense of determination to give my all. When I received the email congratulating me on getting the job a week earlier, I was overwhelmed with shock as I couldn’t believe I got the job.

I stepped into the office on that Monday morning, March 6th, 2023, trying to hide my nervousness by constantly adjusting the corporate black-flowered dress that I had finally settled for the previous night, as per the lawyer that I am. I looked around and noticed that others weren’t as formal as I was. They looked smart but relaxed, which made me feel more at ease. It was nice to see that the environment was friendly and welcoming.

We had a Teams Meeting that morning –  as is the culture – and the energy was something else. I was introduced to the team.

Ever pictured an environment that brings your ideas to life? Or a group of youthful enthusiastic and vibrant individuals that bring to life all your imaginations? Or a small community of diverse tongues (what many would call the WAZOBIA community), yet connected in one spirit towards a common goal? Ever imagined change-makers, creators of societies that to some might just be a mirage? If you connect with any of these questions, then welcome to Connected Development (CODE).

The moment I settled in, work kicked off swiftly. I was handed numerous tasks with tight deadlines; there was no time to spare! I was then entrusted with the role of Project Manager for an 8-month project; Open Parly Nigeria. Initially, doubts crept into my mind about my ability to excel in this position, but I drew strength from my foundation in human rights, gender, children, and access to justice, having traversed the development sector before joining the esteemed team at Connected Development (CODE). I embraced the opportunity and was eager to learn from anyone who could contribute to ensuring the project’s success. 

The Open Parly Nigeria project aimed to bridge the gap between government and citizens by enhancing awareness of the legislative process in three states (Kwara, Oyo, and Yobe). Through interactive platforms, we endeavored to demystify legislative processes and empower communities to hold their elected representatives accountable. Witnessing the project’s impact on deepening citizens’ engagement in democracy has been immensely rewarding and fulfilling.

Co-managing the Digital Mobilization Lab has also been a highlight of my journey at CODE. This initiative harnesses the energy and passion of young leaders from diverse regions of Nigeria, equipping them with the tools and knowledge to drive positive change in their communities. Through comprehensive training on governance fundamentals and digital advocacy tools, participants have emerged as champions for social change, leading campaigns that amplify citizen voices and garner public support.

Over the past twelve months, I’ve been privileged to contribute my part to the progress of several transformative projects aimed at empowering marginalised communities and fostering accountability in governance across Africa. From drafting Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and Freedom of Information letters to crafting position papers, proposals, concept notes, attending meetings, and travelling to implement projects in different states, the achievements recorded so far from these projects give me satisfaction and tell me I’m in the right place.

Looking ahead, I’m excited about the opportunities that await and committed to continuing the vital work of empowering marginalised communities and fostering accountability in governance. As I embark on the next chapter of my journey at CODE, I extend my deepest gratitude to the organisation for the invaluable exposure, experiences, and lessons learned during my first year. Together, we form a family where the true spirit of teamwork thrives. Moving forward, we will continue striving towards a future where every voice is heard, and every community is empowered to shape its destiny.


Empowering Delta State: Unlocking the Potential of the FOI Act

Communications February 8, 2024 0

Have you ever been so excited about an opportunity that you could hardly contain your enthusiasm? That’s precisely how I felt when I was given the chance to coordinate the Freedom of Information (FOI) Workshop in Delta State. 

Not only was it my first visit to Delta State,  it was going to be my first time discussing and raising awareness about the FOI law, which had been adopted in the state. As a Delta state indigene, I was more excited to embrace this new challenge and fully prepared to tackle anything that came my way. 

I am sure you’re wondering what an FOI Act is. It is a law that grants citizens the legal right to request and access information held by public authorities. The Act is designed to promote transparency and accountability in government activities, allowing citizens to obtain information about government operations and policies, thereby holding the government accountable. This Act is an essential tool for enhancing democracy in Nigeria.   

The workshop had six commissioners from various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in attendance, along with representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the media. 

I was honored to take on the role of coordinating the event and leading a session on the Power of Voice Partnership (PVP) project. During my session, I provided an overview of the work we had accomplished over the past two years, including our involvement with integrity clubs, the Host Community Development Trust Fund, and advocacy efforts related to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA). These projects are also focused on advocating for the adoption of the FOI Act. One of the most eye-opening aspects of the workshop was the revelation that a staggering 99.8% of the participants had little to no knowledge about the FOI Act! 

This highlighted the urgent need for advocacy and education about the Act in Delta State. I urged participants to take the knowledge they gained from the workshop and spread awareness about the FOI Act, alongside its significance. A highlight of the event was the Head of FOI from the Ministry of Justice in Abuja, Godwin Garuba, conducting the session on “Unlocking the Power of the Freedom of Information Act: Understanding its Significance and Enhancing Government Responsiveness.” 

From this session, I gained several key takeaways: 

1. The FOI Act allows illiterate or disabled individuals to apply for information through a third party if they are unable to make a personal application. 

2. Applicants are not required to demonstrate a specific interest in the requested information but must prove their Nigerian citizenship, age of 18 or above, and tax compliance for the past three years. 

3. Public institutions must organize and manage information in a way that facilitates public access. 

4. If access to information is denied, the applicant has the right to challenge the decision and have it reviewed by a court, with specific grounds for refusal provided by the institution. 

5. Public institutions have 90 working days to respond to FOI requests, with the option to extend this period for an additional 90 days if necessary. 

6. FOI requests should be addressed officially to the Ministry, distinguishing them from general correspondence. 

Kingsley Agu, the Community Engagement Director of CODE, provided a detailed breakdown of how to write a FOIA letter, ensuring that all participants left the workshop well-informed about the FOI Act, and equipped to write their own FOI requests.

The workshop in Delta State was a remarkable experience for me. Participants left with a better understanding of the FOI Act, ready to use this knowledge to promote transparency and accountability in our great state. This event marked a significant step towards a more informed and engaged Delta State, embracing the power of the Freedom of Information Act to drive positive change in their communities.


Praise Azeh January 16, 2024 0

Praise Azeh

“I now pronounce you…”

Hold on.

This isn’t a love story.

Well, maybe some sort of love story, but definitely not between a woman and I.

Let’s go back to the top. 

“I now pronounce you…a CODE staff”


I officially started my journey as a CODEr (term for CODE staff) in November 2023.

As usual, I got in and had to carefully watch my surroundings as I was in a new environment.

The first thing I noticed was the warm ambiance of staff; everyone was very friendly and welcoming. 

I had thought it was the usual newbie welcome where everyone just gave a smile as required. However, so many weeks later, that warmth hasn’t reduced. 

Could I be more grateful?

Thus, getting settled in wasn’t hard for me. I easily found my spot and got right to it.

Then, it happened!

My boss walked in on my first day (Tuesday) and said the words that hit me hard at first, but later led me into one of the best first experiences I’ve ever had on a job.

“Are you the new Comms guy?”, he asked with a smile that so quickly switched into a straight face.

“Yes, Sir”, I responded

“Get ready, you’re going with us on Thursday to Kogi state, for the elections monitoring. I want to see what you can do with us on the field.”

I went blank.

Was he serious? Was he joking? My first day at the office and I am being told to prepare for a journey!

A lot of thoughts ran through my mind, but I later decided to go on the trip (though it was later made optional). It ended up being a great decision as I got valuable professional and personal experience that I’m still running with, months after.

Why were we going to observe elections?

CODE is an accredited Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) observer, ensuring free and fair elections through systematic observation. Our reports contribute to transparency, accountability, and the credibility of the democratic process in Nigeria. Leveraging on our election intelligence tool – UZABE, we have actively engaged in monitoring elections both internationally- in the US, Kenya, and Liberia, and nationally, including the recently concluded 2023 Nigerian general and off-cycle elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states. 

Amazing, isn’t it?

We got to Lokoja just after noon and got straight to work.

Our first stop was the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lokoja, to crosscheck sensitive and non-sensitive election materials. Then, we went straight to the hotel and set up our Situation Room.

The Situation Room is where we track electoral happenings, get first-hand news, verify, and post. The hub in Lokoja covered for the three states: Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa.

I was taught how the UZABE platform worked, and on the D-day, we got right into it. 

It was a tasking and yet, beautiful experience.

We had to keep tabs on and upload information being sent by our over 80 observers across all the polling units in the three states. Most importantly, we had to verify them, as we are known for pushing out only verified information.

I had to develop press statements for the various press releases we had and then co-coordinate the media briefing, where I was introduced as the new Media Officer for CODE.

It was an amazing experience!

Thankfully, it was a peaceful election and we set off back to Abuja on Sunday.

I left Lokoja fulfilled.


I had contributed my part in enlightening citizens and contributing to a free and fair election.  This was the first time I was involved in an election (aside from just voting) and played a significant part in its proceedings.

I’m happy with the work we do at CODE and I’m ever grateful to have joined this family.

Did I also mention that the journey was very comfortable and ‘food-filled’?

Yes! CODE takes very good care of CODErs.

I look forward to more experience-filled and impactful trips.

Till the next…

My Success Story at CODE

Communications January 12, 2024 0

Chinedu Emmanuel Odah

To me, Connected Development (CODE) is more than just a workplace; it is a multifaceted community that fosters personal growth, staff capacity building, and prioritizes employee wellness. In this success story, I will share my transformative journey from an office chauffeur to a finance staff member at CODE, highlighting the support from the team, the opportunities I had, and the nurturing environment that enabled my professional evolution.

From the moment I joined CODE, I was met with a unique atmosphere of camaraderie and empowerment. The organization’s commitment to staff welfare and growth was evident in various ways, especially the regular team-building activities that encouraged personal and professional development.

I am an accounting graduate with much passion for my profession, however, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to practice in the field before joining CODE. I joined CODE on 31st May 2023, as a Chauffeur/ Logistics Officer while still having my ambition in mind.  I soon learned that CODE embraced an inclusive culture where employees were encouraged to pursue their dreams, regardless of their starting roles. This realization inspired me to embark on a journey of self-improvement and career transition.

With the encouragement of my colleagues, I took advantage of the numerous staff capacity-building opportunities provided by CODE, which equipped me with the skills necessary to start and thrive in a finance role. As I embarked on this transition, I found invaluable support through mentorship at CODE. The organization’s commitment to nurturing talent meant that experienced professionals were readily available to guide me as I worked.

One of the exceptional aspects of CODE is its commitment to internal mobility and growth. As I made this resolve to grow, CODE recognized my dedication, work ethic, and the potential I exhibited, and I was offered the chance to serve in the Finance department from November 2023. Transitioning into a finance role presented new challenges because I  was a fresher in the field ( I had the educational qualifications but lacked the work exposure and experience). However, the team was more than happy to train me from scratch. Looking back, I can confidently say that  CODERS leave no one behind, regardless of culture, tribe or religion. The harmony in our diversity drives the heart of the organization.  Thus, I fully embraced my responsibilities, demonstrating meticulous attention to detail, accuracy, and a strong work ethic, while continuously refining my skills, and leveraging the resources available within the organization to excel in my new position.

To say the least, CODE’s commitment to staff wellness and capacity building has created an environment where growth is not limited to a single achievement. I remain committed to ensuring  I remain at the forefront of organization trends and best practices.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunities and experiences that have shaped my success story at CODE. This has truly forged a new path for me in 2024, a path of responsibility, professionalism and value for money.

Thank you for reading

Chinedu Emmanuel Odah

Nigeria Decides: 2023 Citizen-Led Election Report

Communications August 17, 2023 0

The deployment of UZABE in this election cycle aligns with CODE’s objective to increase and share innovative approaches to information exchange through experimentation, research, and technology. Also, as an accredited INEC elections observer, CODE collaborated with other CSOs to actively participate in the 2023 election observation process, while training and deploying over 20,000 volunteer polling station observers. CODE’s Situation Room received and subjected incident reports to a multi-level verification system to provide 12,889 authenticated and verified reports across the 2023 election cycle, which provided a picture of Nigeria’s 2023 electoral process READ MORE

Connected Development Commends Kano State House of Assembly on the Passage of Child Protection Bill

Communications May 25, 2023 0

Connected Development commends the Kano State House of Assembly on the successful passage of the Child Protection Bill. This achievement is a result of the sustained advocacy campaign by the, “Galvanizing Mass Action against Gender-based violence in Kano State” – GMAA-K project with support from the Canadian High Commission  and in partnership with BridgeConnect Africa Initiative.

The Child Protection Bill is a crucial piece of legislation that will help to protect the most vulnerable members of society-our children, from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation. The bill, when signed into law, will provide a legal framework for the prevention and management of child abuse cases in Kano State.

We appreciate the Kano State House of Assembly for their dedication and commitment to the wellbeing of children in the state, and for keeping their promise to pass the bill. This is a significant achievement that will serve as a milestone in the fight against child abuse in Kano State.

We urge the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, to expedite the signing of the bill into law before leaving office. We also call on the Kano State Government to take further action to ensure effective implementation of the Child Protection Bill.

As an organisation committed to protecting the rights of children and promoting their wellbeing, we will continue to work with the Kano State Government and other stakeholders to ensure that children in Kano State are protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

We thank the Canadian High Commission for their unwavering support towards the passage of the Child Protection Bill in Kano State.

Advancing Climate Justice through Community Engagement and Collaboration: The Significance of Earth Day and the SDGs

Every year on April 22nd, Earth Day is observed worldwide to promote environmental awareness and inspire individuals to actively safeguard our planet. This year, we actively engaged in this global event, amplifying the message of preserving Earth and its invaluable resources. With the theme of “investing in our planet,” the focus was on acknowledging the significance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we near the year 2030. Understanding the criticality of achieving these goals is paramount in securing a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.

SDG goal 13

The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. There are 17 SDGs, covering a wide range of issues, including climate change, sustainable cities, responsible consumption and production, and gender equality. 

Goal 13 of the SDGs addresses explicitly climate action and recognizes the urgent need to take action to combat climate change and its impacts. Key targets of SDG 13 include Strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters, improving education, raising awareness, human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning; implementing the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible, Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in the least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women and youth. 

Despite all these strategies in place, headway towards achieving the SDGs has been slow, and the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters. The pandemic highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of environmental issues, some of which are deforestation, air pollution, and climate change, to prevent future pandemics and protect human health. The climate crisis is one of the most significant threats facing our planet, and it’s critical that we take urgent action to address it. 

The impact of the 2022 flooding in Ihuike Ahoada East LGA in Rivers State 

Nigeria’s significant impact of climate change. 

Nigeria, just like most developing countries, has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to developed countries but has still been impacted significantly by climate change. This has made the country more susceptible to extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and storms, which have caused significant damage to infrastructure, property, and livelihoods.  The impacts of climate change on Nigeria’s agriculture sector have had a significant impact on food security and nutrition, with millions of people facing food insecurity as a result of reduced crop yields and rising food prices.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the 2012 floods in Nigeria affected over 7 million people across 30 states, resulting in the loss of over 300 lives and causing an estimated $16 billion in damages. In 2018, flooding in Nigeria affected over 2 million people across 12 states, resulting in the loss of over 200 lives and causing significant damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Similarly, In September 2020, heavy rainfall led to severe flooding in several parts of Nigeria, affecting over 140,000 people and causing an estimated $200 million in damages.

The most recent flood in Nigeria occurred in September 2021. According to the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), at least 70 people were killed, and over 100,000 were displaced by the flooding that affected 17 out of the country’s 36 states. The flooding was attributed to heavy rainfall, which caused the overflow of rivers and dams. Several houses, farmlands, and infrastructure, including roads and bridges, were also destroyed.

The impact of the 2022 flooding in Ihuike Ahoada East LGA in Rivers State 

How we are challenging the existing state of affairs.

Connected Development (CODE) with support from OXFAM recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and is taking action to improve public opinion, awareness, and understanding of frontline solutions. Our campaign across Rivers and Akwa Ibom states is a significant step towards achieving the SDGs and raising awareness about environmental issues in Nigeria. The campaign aims to empower local communities to take action and make a positive impact on the environment. 

We aim to see Governments, companies, and other power brokers recognise the value of frontline narratives and implement policies and practices that respect and protect the rights of frontline communities and contribute to climate justice.

As an organization, we recognize the need to raise awareness about the devastating effects of flooding and spur reactions and urgent actions from relevant actors, especially the sub-national government. We shot a documentary that amplifies the adverse effects and impacts of flooding across our frontline communities across Rivers and Akwa Ibom State.  It was indeed a sight visiting the internally displaced camp where women, men and children were left with little or nothing from the catastrophic impacts of the flood. Pregnant women, elderly women, and sick men were all left to carter for themselves and their families in a dilapidated building with an unpleasant WASH facility.  As we interviewed these groups of people, I could barely hold a tear. I was glum and devastated.  Click here to watch the documentary.

We will continue challenging the existing state of affairs through partnerships with community-based Organizations and Media to ensure that everyone has a voice in the fight against climate change. By working together, we can make a significant impact on the environment and achieve the SDGs before 2030.


Oyare Oche April 20, 2023 1

Fareedah Oyolola, Tomisin Ogunubi,Tanitoluwa Adewunmi, Abdullahi Salihu.

This is me marking the class register for the world’s brightest minds that all four of these children represent, so they might as well respond “present”.

Fareedah Oyolola is a secondary school student at Greensprings school, Lagos Nigeria, honoured as one of the brightest students in the world by the John Hopkins centre for talented youths. Tomisin Ogunubi at age 15, developed an exceptional application to find lost children and she called it “ My locator”. Tanitoluwa on the other hand is recognised as the world chess champion 2020 and achieved this feat at just age 10. My personal favourite (simply because I got to meet with him personally), is Abdullahi Salihu- a 9 year old pacesetter from Misau local government, Bauchi state Nigeria who is already dabbling with inventions. He created a mini torchlight which his family uses to navigate their way in the dark using local materials and finger batteries!


Abdullahi Salihu (Young boy seated) and his invention

These four bright minds are perfect hallmarks of excellence which every child could attain if given the right opportunity and the best possible environment to thrive.

However, as a result of several factors such as poverty, insecurity, cultural and religious barriers amongst others, over 20 million Nigerian children are not in school according to a latest UNESCO report. A 2018 statistics by the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) says that about 10.5 million children were not in school. Distressingly, this number swelled to an alarming 13.2 million by 2019 and the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic which spurred the world-wide lock-down only contributed to more students dropping out of school. 

The survey said something else; there is still a huge number of those who are in school, but are learning nothing, noting that schooling does not always lead to learning. It concluded that in Nigeria, there are more non-learners in school than those out of school.

Now while basic education is supposedly ‘free’ and compulsory, the question is why do we still have a staggering number of out of school children and even worse, why do we still have non-learners in schools?

A number of factors are responsible,but the one that catches my attention is the fact that a large number of pupils and students of public primary and secondary schools in Nigeria still have children whose parents struggle to pay their children’s school levies which could be as low as a thousand naira only (N1000)- for states where school levies are required. In states where parents are only required to pay for the Parents, Teachers Association (PTA) levy, some still struggle to pay.

Although the Universal Basic Education Act states basic education is free and compulsory, many Nigerian children are still deprived from learning because some government schools still demand for some level of payments for textbooks, school uniforms and other levies. Out of curiosity and with the company of a few friends, I had a chat with a school administrator of an LEA primary and secondary school in the FCT, Nigeria to gather information on the challenges pupils and students might be facing regarding their learning and the details I got, are heartbreaking to say the least.The school has a required levy of one thousand-two hundred naira only (N1200) per term still, parents of about 110 students and pupils cannot afford to pay the fees of their wards. As disheartening as this is, it is the current reality that we live in.

Oyare on a visit to Birishin Fulani Primary school, Bauchi State Nigeria

As a media and communications officer for Connected Development, I embarked on a work trip to Bauchi for a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID);LEARN to Read, a project aimed at improving early grade reading outcomes. It was on this trip that I got the lifetime opportunity to interact with promising young bright minds like Abdullahi Salihu. Unlike Abdullahi who was from a more privileged and supportive family- which was a contributory factor to his excelling academic record, most of his counterparts in the state’s capital are not as privileged as he is. In Birishin Fulani Primary School for example, my team and I noted two primary one pupils (Amina and Isa) with untapped potentials who were having a hard time learning in school. We probed the class teachers and parents of these pupils to understand the cause of their challenges. While the teachers attributed the poor performance of the pupils to the nonchalance of their parents towards their children’s education, the parents blamed poverty as the reason why they could not give their children the full academic support that they needed. 7-years old Amina for example had no school shoes, sandals or proper school uniform and always had to assist her mum in hawking groundnuts or selling plastic bottles picked from waste bins after school. Isa on the other hand is an introverted pupil who needed extra attention from his teachers to come out of his shell but for the overcrowded classes, Isa was lagging behind for a long time before his class teacher took the initiative to relocate his seat for close monitoring.


Amina Picking pet bottles from waste bins to sell after school

The poor infrastructural condition of the school building could not go unnoticed as we noted that pupils had to sit on the floors because the classes had no chairs or tables.

Primary 1 Pupils of Birishin Fulani Primary school in class their classroom

There are a myriad of challenges contributing to the number of out of school children in the country and even more to the number of early graders in school who are not learning. The question is, how much attention and priority is being given to the education sector, particularly to basic education? Although the Federal government has allocated an 8.8 percent budget to the education sector, this still falls short of the 15-20 per cent recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Despite the 3 percent allocation from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for Basic Education which resides with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the commitment of the federal government to cater for 50 percent of states basic education needs, state governments have been guilty of paying lip service to funding education as the budget performance marks terribly low.

It is imminent that now more than ever, priority should be given to ensuring quality basic education for all Nigerian children because as much as every child has an innate greatness they potentially can exhibit, our nation is only as great as the potentials we harness. At Connected Development in collaboration with USAID LEARN to Read, we are mobilising community resources with the spirit of Open Government Partnership (OGP),aimed at ensuring quality primary education across the country, championing one bright mind at a time. 

Men and boys have a Critical Role as Allies in Preventing Gender-based Violence (GBV) and Achieving Gender Equality.

Hyeladzira James Mshelia April 19, 2023 0

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global problem affecting millions of women and girls yearly. I like to refer to GBV as a growing Global Pandemic. GBV includes any violence perpetrated against someone based on gender identity or gender expression, including physical, sexual, and psychological violence. While women and girls are the direct victims of GBV, men and boys have a paramount role in stemming it and promoting gender equality. 

Unfortunately, GBV incidents in Nigeria have experienced a significant upsurge due to the insurgency in the northeastern region. The escalation of violence in the Northeast since the onset of 2015 has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, with over 2.2 million people displaced due to the intensified attacks by Boko Haram insurgents. May I also remind you that the world is still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, including the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Nigeria as well as the spike in cases of Sexual and gender-based violence cases? According to a report by the United Nations Women, nearly half (48%) of Nigerian women have encountered at least one form of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hyeladzira Mshelia engaging boys in JSS Garki School

Why engaging with Men and Boys is paramount. 

Research indicates that men are more likely to perpetrate gender-based violence than women. According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. The majority of these acts are committed by men. Additionally, the Global Study on Homicide by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that over 80% of homicide victims are men, with men being more likely to be killed by other men. These statistics demonstrate the need to involve men and boys in the efforts to end gender-based violence, as they are often the perpetrators of such violence.

  • While both men and women can be victims of GBV, men are more likely to be the perpetrators of such violence. Engaging men and boys in ending GBV is important because it can play a significant role in stopping the cycle of violence. 
  • Men can influence other men and challenge their harmful attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls. This can be particularly important in settings where GBV is normalized or accepted
  • Ending GBV requires the participation of everyone in society, including men and boys. Sustainable change can only be achieved if everyone is involved in the effort to prevent GBV and promote gender equality

In this perspective, Connected Development with support from Voice Program in Nigeria took the engagement of men and boys at the core of its interventions to promote gender equality and address violence against Women and Girls within Nigeria. The team and I adopted a grassroots engagement approach that targets men and boys, enabling them to provide direct impact and empowerment to victims and young people. Through this strategy, individuals have been receiving vital information on their roles as responders, the availability of diverse communication and reporting channels, and the importance of mobilizing a collective voice to speak out against gender-based violence. We engaged with diverse stakeholders ranging from informal stakeholders to formal stakeholders. I became conversant with The National Union of Road Transport Workers as a result of spearheading this campaign and very easily, I was fondly referred to as “Iya Motor Park” by my colleagues.

In a bid to strengthen the capacity of 1000 men and 1000 boys as ‘he-for-she’ champions to lead strategic advocacy and multi-dimensional stakeholder engagement against gender-based violence in Nigeria, we held a series of capacity-building sessions, training and town hall meetings for drivers, loaders, conductors, ticketers and even market women. We have come to understand that men and boys can play a significant role as partners and allies in reducing incidents of GBV and promoting gender equality. Equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge to become advocates and allies in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence is crucial. Collaborations and partnerships are also key to laying a strong foundation for project implementation, which leads to greater success. 

Over the past 18 months, our project has yielded significant results, by partnering with the National Union of Road Transport Workers, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, and The Enugu State Ministry of Gender Affairs and Social Development, we were able to mobilize various stakeholders throughout the project cycle. This resulted in the creation of five gender desk offices across five states in Nigeria, across the informal sector where women can rant and speak out without fear from their perpetrators, as has never been the case in places like the motor parks in Nigeria. We have thus far created safe places and a reporting channel for women to seek justice and demand accountability on issues relating to sexual and gender-based violence and sensitize school authorities on including guidance and counselling in curricula.  In addition, we empowered 2,610 boys through the Boys Against Gender-Based Violence Club and reached a total of 2.5 million people through online engagement. We also recorded positive behavioural changes by men and boys through their willingness to engage and educate other men and boys, who will do the same for their peers. 

The most exciting aspect of engaging men and boys as allies in ending GBV was through our extracurricular activity in the form of consent education for boys and girls in Junior Secondary schools. This was not only targeted at the students, and this was achieved by also strengthening the teachers’ capacities through the use of the Actions. Boys.Choices [ABC] on the SGBV manuals and ensuring they handled club activities regularly. 

A cross-section of participants during a Motor park town hall meeting in Abuja

Using innovative tools to directly impact and empower victims, young people across the project states

Young people across the project states are utilizing our innovative tools to directly empower and impact victims of GBV. These tools are designed to provide immediate and practical assistance to those affected by GBV, as well as to raise awareness about the issue and promote social change.

  • We developed a Social Construct Platform which is a digital data collection and analysis tool to access the misogynistic tendencies of men and boys, educate them on the subject of gender-based violence, and provide a one-stop reporting platform for victims and survivors. Click here to check your SABI level.
  • Using the Actions. BoysChoices [ABC] on SGBV Manuals, we developed a 24-week educational manual on mentorship and extracurricular activities for secondary school students, both boys and girls, across several states targeted by the project. As part of this initiative, we launched the Boys Club Against Gender-Based Violence in 30 schools, making it one of the first of its kind in Africa. Through this program, we have successfully educated and mentored over 3,000 boys on the issue of SGBV, empowering them to be allies in the fight against gender-based violence. ABC Manual for Boys
  • We produced a series of documentaries aimed at engaging with rights holders and raising awareness about the harmful impact of sexism and male dominance on ending all forms of violence against women and girls. These documentaries helped to shed light on the issue and promote dialogue around the need for action to end gender-based violence.  Find a link to the  docu-story  here 
  • We initiated dialogue with rights holders about their experiences and perspectives on gender-based violence through a VOX POP production. This initiative was conducted in three languages – Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa – and was instrumental in starting conversations and engaging with communities on the issue of SGBV.  Find a link the Vox Pop here 
  • SGBV Manual for Transport Workers and Organizations in the Informal Sector: We designed and developed an SGBV Manual for Transport Workers and Organizations in the Informal Sector. These manuals engaged gender desk officers within the motor park space. Manual for Road Union Workers on GBV
  • We created various knowledge-sharing materials, including fact sheets, cartoons, infographics, jingles, stickers, handbills, and community-based information dissemination tools. These materials were placed strategically in motor parks, buses, and cars to ensure maximum exposure and to reach a diverse audience

Through leading this campaign, I have realized that gender-based violence also affects men and boys, who often remain silent about their experiences. Male victims of gender-based violence often face a unique set of challenges, including social stigma, lack of support, and even disbelief from others. This can make it difficult for men and boys to come forward and seek help.

One of the key obstacles facing male victims of gender-based violence is the lack of data and research on the topic. Historically, most studies and statistics on gender-based violence have focused exclusively on female victims, leaving male victims largely invisible. This has contributed to a widespread misconception that gender-based violence is exclusively a women’s issue. In reality, gender-based violence affects individuals of all genders and can have devastating consequences for men and boys.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the need to address the needs of male victims of gender-based violence. This has led to the development of new initiatives and resources aimed at providing support and assistance to male survivors. These initiatives include counselling services, hotlines, and support groups specifically designed for male victims of gender-based violence.

However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that male victims of gender-based violence receive the support and resources they need. This includes challenging social norms and attitudes that perpetuate the myth that men cannot be victims of violence, as well as increasing funding for research and services aimed at addressing the unique needs of male survivors.

Ultimately, the fight against gender-based violence must be an inclusive one, recognizing that individuals of all genders can be victims and survivors.  I hope to witness more initiatives and remedies geared towards addressing the needs of men and boys impacted by gender-based violence.