Category: News

Illicit Financial Flow: Malabu Scandal Robbed the Nigerian People of 1.1 Billion

Communications March 18, 2020 5

Every year, Nigeria loses N18b to illegal movements of money or capital from the country– especially through the oil and gas industry, yet very little attention is paid to this illicit financial flow.

Illicit financial flows can be generated in a variety of ways that are not revealed in national accounts or balance of payments figures, including trade mispricing, bulk cash movements, and smuggling. This illegally earned money is transferred across the international border, usually aided by technology.

Despite the nation’s huge resources, which is now referred to as a curse, the Country’s inability to transform its resources as shared wealth and prosperity for all, is making it difficult to block financial leakages, as a large chunk of its earnings are being pocketed by a few and transferred illegally to other countries.

Guardian Newspaper records that Africa’s current losses to IFFs outweigh the continent’s aid and foreign direct investment as the prevailing development is further worsened by trade underpricing, mis-invoicing, oil theft and smuggling, weak regulations and enforcement.

Global Financial Integrity estimates that the annual value of trade-related IFFs in and out of developing countries has amounted to, on average, about 20 per cent of the value of their total trade with advanced economies. 

IFFs pose a huge challenge to political and economic security around the world, particularly to developing countries. Corruption, organized crime, illegal exploitation of natural resources, fraud in international trade and tax evasion are as harmful as the diversion of money from public projects.

It is for this reason, Connected Development [CODE], in collaboration with OXFAM Novib, is galvanizing Nigerian citizens against corruption. The fight against corruption is not just for government agencies but citizens must take this as an obligation for a better Nigeria. Civil Society Organisations also have a responsibility to speak against this misnomer, enhance citizens capacity and amplify issues of illicit financial flows till urgent action is taken to address it.

CODE will be leveraging its social accountability platform, “Follow The Money”, to amplify data, infographics and relevant information on illicit flow of funds by public officials. Having also realised the strengthening of the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill that ensures violating companies and individuals are held accountable for IFFs, CODE will also leverage media engagements to create awareness and urge the Nigerian President to assent to the bill. 

Assenting to the bill will reposition the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and enhance the capability of the Office to execute its constitutional mandate of ensuring transparency, accountability and probity in the management of public funds; and establish an Audit Act in accordance with international best practice of other climes. 

These proposed outcomes, which will be achieved through strategic advocacy and multifaceted engagements with relevant public and private ‘CSOs/Media’ bodies, collaboration with anti-graft agencies (EFCC/ICPC) and social mobilization, would ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies submit their yearly audited financial accounts to the Auditor General of the Federation, hence preventing corruption, illicit financial flows, money laundering and mismanagement of public funds as reported in the Malabu and Dan Etete Case. 

NHW, CODE Launch Report on Assessment of 49 PHCs in Kano State

Communications January 31, 2020 3

Nigeria Health Watch and Connected Development launched a report on primary health care to advocate for improvements and greater accountability in the primary health care system in Nigeria.

In order to show primary health care provision at the State level, the report looked at primary health care service provision in Kano State as a case study, evaluating whether the state’s primary health care provision is in line with the minimum standards of primary health care as outlined by the Federal Ministry of Health. The monitoring of service delivery in Primary Healthcare Centres was designed to monitor progress in the implementation of primary health care services particularly maternal, newborn and child health services.

CODE’s Community Engagement Officer, Muktar Hallilu Modibbo, at the Report Launch in Kano State

The assessment in 49 primary health centres (PHCs) across Local Government Areas (LGA) in Kano State was carried out using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Speaking at the launch in Kano, Director of Programmes at Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu said, “Results reveal that all the PHCs assessed seem to lack some component of the basic requirements as outlined by the NPHCDA minimum standards for PHCs. Based on the minimum standards, some basic infrastructure and human resource are expected to be found in a PHC facility. This is essential in order to facilitate delivery of timely and efficient services to healthcare users.”

Receiving the report, the Executive Secretary of the Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board, Dr. Tijjani Hussaini said, “…

According to CODE’s Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, the report has provided greater clarity on the standards of PHCs in Kano State. Now is the time for Kano State NPHCDA and other statutory regulators to step up and put in place sustainable measures to strengthen the healthcare system. I must add that the gaps identified in this report are not unique to Kano alone. NPHCDA and the Ministry of Health should prioritize provision of the basic requirement that will ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all.

NHW and CODE with Kano State PHCs Officials

From the report, it is clear that there are gaps in service delivery and adherence to the minimum standards for primary health care. The resultant effect is poor health seeking behaviour among patients in the State. The consensus at the end of the launch of the report was that the local health authorities need to re-examine the services provided at PHCs  and re-equip them with necessary infrastructure and human resource to enhance their service quality and readiness, in order to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

Other states in Nigeria should carry out a similar assessment of service delivery in their local primary healthcare centres.

About Nigeria Health Watch

Nigeria Health Watch is a not-for-profit organization that aims to advocate for the health of Nigerians, strengthen the capacity of health sector organisations, enlighten Nigerians on good health habits and practices and engage and support government and other partners to formulate and implement positive and effective health policies. Its dual strengths in health and communication enables it to provide solutions for communications and advocacy in the health sector.

About Connected Development

Connected Development [CODE] is a non-governmental organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Its initiative, Follow The Money, advocates and tracks government/international aid spending in health, WASH, and education across grassroots and communities to promote and ensure open government and service delivery.

NHW Partners CODE to Increase Accountability in the Delivery of PHC Services in Nigeria

Communications July 29, 2019 0

February 26, 2019, Tsanyawa Kano State, Nigeria- A woman weighs her newborn baby. This medical center was built in 1987 and the only one in this remote community. Traveling hours outside of the city center, this medical center has saved many lives for many years but is in need of an additional building due to an influx of patients in the recent years. Follow The Money campaigned for this new addition and it’s currently being built. Construction is in full swing, talking to many women and patients they expressed how much this new addition will change their families and others’ lives.

Concerned by the poor service delivery of Primary Healthcare Centres in Nigeria, two Non-Governmental Organisations, Nigeria Health Watch and Connected Development [CODE], have signed an MoU to advocate for improved service delivery in primary healthcare centres across the country.

The partnership, signed yesterday in Abuja, was established for the purpose of monitoring healthcare service delivery and increasing accountability in the delivery of primary healthcare services in Kano State. It will focus on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) services, and will include other services such as family planning, immunization and antenatal services.

Although, Nigeria has many PHC across the country, the performance of the healthcare centres is hindered by poor infrastructure and maintenance, insufficient drugs & vaccines and sub-standard equipment and limited health workers, factors that are hinged on financing and governance.

On the objective of the project, Director of Programmes at Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu, said; “The foundation of healthcare delivery should be through our primary health centres and this project will focus on monitoring the effective delivery of basic healthcare services, with a view to driving positive change in the quality of healthcare Nigerians have access to”.

According to CODE’s Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, “this partnership comes at a time when sustainable measures must be put in place to strengthen Nigeria’s healthcare system. He added that access to healthcare is one of the basic human rights and providing basic health services to people, especially at the grassroots, through standard primary healthcare system is key to stabilizing the Nation’s medical care challenges.

Strengthening healthcare service delivery is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3; to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, including the delivery of interventions to reduce child mortality, maternal mortality and the burden of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

About Nigeria Health Watch

Nigeria Health Watch is a not-for-profit organization that aims to advocate for the health of Nigerians, strengthen the capacity of health sector organisations, enlighten Nigerians on good health habits and practices and engage and support government and other partners to formulate and implement positive and effective health policies. Its dual strengths in health and communication enables it to provide solutions for communications and advocacy in the health sector.

About Connected Development

Connected Development [CODE] is a non-governmental organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Its initiative, Follow The Money, advocates and tracks government/international aid spending in health, WASH, and education across grassroots and communities to promote and ensure open government and service delivery.

Day of the African Child: Nigeria goes Mum over her 8.6 Million Out-of-school Children

Ani Nwachukwu Agwu June 16, 2018 3

In recent times, the Federal Government of Nigeria has been struggling to contain her 8.6 million out-of-school children (high figure in the world) through various interventions. One of such interventions is the National Home Grown School Feeding Program (NHGSFP) which seeks to provide at least one very good meal per day, to the pupils. Cheerlessly, due to obvious reasons, insecurity, in the country, experts contend that the figure at 8.6 million is highly conservative.

CODE visits Out-of-school children in Maiduguri, Borno State

For example, in Benue State, North-Central Nigeria, irked by the worsening humanitarian crisis occasioned by incessant farmers-herdsmen clashes, Governor Samuel Ortom announced that 70 per cent out of the over 170,000 internally displaced persons in Benue are children. He didn’t stop there. He alarmed that these children no longer have access to functional education. In a related development in Nasarawa State (yet in the North-Central geopolitical zone), it is recently reported that 20,000 pupils have been forced to abandon school over herdsmen crisis.

I purposely de-selected examples from the other five (5) geopolitical zones especially Northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram is proving stubborn against the armed forces, to highlight that our educational deficiency is widespread and endemic. Northeast has suffered a major setback in education and other dimensions of development on the account of Boko Haram which mounted a brazen campaign against Western education and later transformed to a terrorist network. Notwithstanding, every state have their own share of the problem. This has summed up to a measure of full-scale educational crisis at the national level.

The essence of Day of the African Child (commemorated on June 16, every year) is to honour hundreds of school children who were brutally mowed down by the Republic of South Africa. In 1976, school children had risen against a dysfunctional educational system in their country; demanding reforms and increased funding. What followed was a joint misbehaviour from the government and security agencies. Instead of heeding to calls for reforms which were dire (as we have in Nigeria today), the government resorted to violence – killing hundreds of school children who were “merely” exercising their fundamental human rights by calling on their government to reform for global competitiveness.

Consequently, on 16th June 1991, the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU) declared June 16 as Day of the African Child. It became a day for Member States to reconsider national educational policies and more comprehensively, commitments to the attainment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The theme for 2018 is: Leave No Child Behind in Africa’s Development. As a continent, how have we fared on matters of child protection; basic education; universal health coverage; etc. Africa must move beyond the fanfare of June 16 and pursue social and economic development with every vigour and rigour. Africa is not lame!

Nigeria cannot conveniently shy away from the problem. Without minding that Nigeria’s population explosion has put pressure on the country’s resources; public services and infrastructure, I maintain “there is no way to run”. A possible consequence of our dysfunctional education is best captured when the President of the Senate – Senator (Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki warned that the situation is not only alarming but also a ticking time bomb. How else can I describe this dangerous situation to sound more convincing?

The above security perspective by Senator Saraki cannot be digested in isolation. What about the ability to secure jobs or employment that can guarantee sustainable livelihoods. In the science of genetics, organisms reproduce after their kind. The same is true of poverty. One big reap in education is the opportunity to acquire suitable skills for contemporary jobs. Google recently established an artificial intelligence (AI) centre in Ghana. As organisms, we either evolve and adapt to survive or we perish. This is a long standing scientific fact. There are even more convincing instances on why Nigeria must invest in her people – human capital development. National and international economic environment is quite dynamic or rapidly changing. Should the “giant of Africa” be left behind?

CODE and other CSOs in Press Conference, calling for #AmendUBEAct in Abuja.

In its traditional innovative solutions; synergy with Nigerian CSOs and in partnership with Malala Fund, Connected Development is currently leading a campaign on the urgency to amend the country’s Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act of 2004 to accommodate contemporary discrepancies and realities. For emphasis (at the risk of sounding trite), one “miraculous” way that the Federal Government of Nigeria can respond to the frightful of out-of-school figure is to amend the current UBE Act (please, track previous national conversations on twitter using #AmendUBEAct).

As I excuse my keypad for other itineraries of the day, let me conclude with a few sentences. As far as governments (at all levels) continue to keep mum over our 8.6 million out-of-school children, excruciating poverty is inevitable. Whereas it is no longer fashionable to abandon the business of governance to governments alone; citizens must support government officials in all possible ways for I consider bad leadership and poverty as our “common enemy”. By the way, my heart goes out to hundred of children in the Republic of South Africa that were murdered, gruesomely, on this day 1976. For this is the 28th edition of the #DayOfTheAfricanChild which you paid the supreme price, making it to be.

Written by Ani, Nwachukwu Agwu. Ani is a rural development practitioner. He can be reached via Nwachukwu@connecteddevelopment.org . He works with Follow The Money – the fastest growing social accountability movement in Africa.

How vital is the National Orientation Agency’s collaboration with CSOs

Lucy Abagi February 6, 2018 2

National Orientation Agency is a Nigerian government agency created in 2005 and tasked with communicating government policy, staying abreast of public opinion and promoting patriotism, national unity, and development of Nigerian society.

Do Nigerians have faith in NOA to build a communication bridge for citizens to interact with the government? Is citizens’ inclusion and engagement in demanding transparency and accountability encouraged? Or should we go ahead and advocate for ourselves liaising with civil societies in ensuring that our voices are heard and sideline this agency and all it stands for because of constant interferences of political bureaucracies in decision making and activities of NOA.

Am a little bit indecisive on what to think about NOA, but not entirely conclusive because of recent development by this agency to partner with civil society organisations in Nigeria. NOA gave an open call for collaboration with CSOs on the 31st of October 2017 at Ibeto Hotel, Abuja where a good number of representatives from different NGOs were in attendance.

The Director-General @GarbaAbari represented by The Director, Planning, research and strategy Dr Bonat J. Tagwai gave a brief review of NOAs five years strategy plans and their ongoing projects was made available to all participants, and full involvement of CSOs in the implementation of this program welcomed.

Some highlight of their activities includes

  • A well-structured agency and adequately staffed across the country comprising of National Headquarters, 36 States Directorate, FCT 774 Local Government Offices and  3000 volunteer Corp.
  • NOA has visited about 120 LGA and  communities to update them on their activities
  • They have interpreted the Freedom of Information Act into 20 languages to ease understanding of the Act and drive citizen mobilization and participation in demanding accountability and transparency from their government.
  • Has started a survey of 130 MDAs to engage public institutions
  • And have launched NOA FM Radio 97.7 though still test running and ideas will be welcomed on how to utilize this station efficiently.

Civil Societies present participated in group work to explore opportunities for partnerships with Short presentations of each group to highlight areas of collaborations with NOA.

A Cross-Section Of CSOs During The Group work

A Cross-Section Of CSOs During The Group work

The benefit for CSOs to collaborate with NOA was further stressed that based on their staff’s strengths and 3000 volunteers scattered around the country. Ease of carrying out campaigns using this volunteer will be efficient because instead of looking for new hands or travelling to places you don’t know, NOA could provide:

The contacts of their volunteers who are always on the ground in all the state.

Location and addresses of their state offices to assist in working in new terrains.

These, in particular, will assist connected development in further driving their campaigns and growing networks.

A Cross-Section Of CSOs During The Group work

To encourage full involvement and authentic evidence of collaborations, interested Civil Societies should send official letters to the Director-General making reference of this event.

This event was viewed and broadcast on PTV News. 

Hon. Emmanuel Njoku and DG Political, Civic, Ethics and Values Dept. Mrs Ngozi Ekeoba

Connected development as started utilizing this partnership opportunity with NOA as our Program Manager for democracy and governance Hon. Emmanuel Njoku plans on working with NOA in his campaign Engaging Emerging Voters for young people below 18 years in senior secondary two and three respectively.

A little brief of the objective of the campaign by Emmanuel Njoku is to increase voter education among eligible secondary school student. The project hopes to create clubs in secondary school for sustainability across the country and provision of short training on democratic values for members

We anticipate NOA full support in achieving this campaign and ensuring that the younger generation will understand the requirement of leadership and the importance of voting to reach a better outcome in the 2019 elections.

 

 

 

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!