Category: News

Leveraging Partnerships for Success in Empowering Oil-Rich Communities

Communications December 12, 2020 2

Leveraging Partnerships for Success in Empowering Oil-Rich Communities

Adaora Okoye

In the 1950s, the discovery of crude oil was a turning point for Nigeria. The nation’s largely agrarian economy fell back to the rising demand for fossil fuels. Decades later, Nigeria has grown to be the largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. From the outside looking in, ours is a success story– until you look deeper. 

Oil Spill in Ibeno Atia, Rivers

Nigeria has the highest number of poor people in the world after India. This is a sharp contrast to the sheer amount of revenue that has been raked in via foriegn exchange. The oil and gas sector continues to be the major driver of the Ngerian economy, accounting for over 95 percent of export earnings and accounts for over 50 percent of government revenues.

This raises several questions about governance, public accountability and transparent resource management. Why does an oil-producing country generating huge revenues (over USD 32.6 billion in 2018) have over 86.9 million people living in poverty?

One may argue that those who bear the highest burden of our sojourn in crude oil extraction are the communities where oil is produced. The Niger-Delta region accommodates mining companies whose activities have proven detrimental in most aspects. Residents suffer environmental degradation, pollution of land and rivers that previously served as lifelines for the local economy. Thus, the people remain poor; almost completely excluded from enjoying the wealth obtained. 

Imagine a young man in Delta State that comes from a family of fishermen. Growing up, he learned how to fish from his father and decided to continue in this line of work. But there’s a problem: the rivers he knew have been slowly contaminated by hydrocarbon spillages caused by ineffective regulations and non-standard crude oil refiners. A 2014 study showed that these hydrocarbons are the biggest threat to Niger- Delta inhabitants.  

Local farmers are not spared. Increased soil toxicity has had devastating effects on Saltwater Wetland Ecosystems. Hydrocarbon spillages not only reduce land productivity but also crop yield and the annual income of farmers. With the land and the water poisoned for humans and animals, it is no surprise that some young people in the region turned to militancy as a way to obtain justice. 

Emboldened by its experience in oil-rich grassroots communities, leading Civil Society Organisation, Connected Development (CODE) identified this scenario as a nod to the lack of inclusive and transparent governance in Nigeria. CODE has been actively working with stakeholders to ensure that the everyday citizen, especially those in the hinterlands, knows how to track government allocation and expenditure meant for the development of the region. 

NOSDRA team inspecting oil spill in rural Rivers State. Photo by Ubong, CODE’s State Lead

Understanding the importance of partnerships and leveraging it to regain the trust of citizens in public services, CODE collaborated with government agencies and regulators in the oil and gas sectors like the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and community governance structures,  to foster better engagement between these regulators and Community Development Committees and ensure that local interests are fully represented. 

An instance of  CODE leveraging partnerships for success is during our recent training of Community Development Committee (CDC) members on accountability and transparency in Akwa Ibom  State where we hosted the Department of Petroleum Resources, Academia, OXFAM Team, Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER), Oil and Gas Companies and the Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources. Participants learnt the process of reporting oil spills; engaging with the appropriate agencies who will then set up a joint investigative team made up of regulators, host community, spill owner and the police. Since the session, CODE has regularly received reports of oil spills from community reporters like in Atia, Akwa Ibom State. 

At the event, NOSDRA also emphasised the impact of third party interference on pipelines in host communities and the economy. Local residents must play a part in discouraging pipeline vandalism. We went on to hold a stakeholder’s parley in the same State that went so well that NOSDRA reached out to appreciate the CODE team for support provided in hope of working together again in future. 

Recording such milestones enables the team to not only strive harder but create effective processes that achieve results. If citizens in oil rich states are equipped with the right tools to enable them to hold the government accountable, this will help check the activities of these extractive companies and call public attention to ongoing issues. All hands must be on deck.


Communications November 23, 2020 0

BudgIT Foundation and Connected Development (CODE), two prominent civic-tech non-governmental organizations spearheading the advocacy for openness, transparency and accountability in public finance in Africa, have launched the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP), an initiative that seeks to promote accountability and transparency through the tracking of COVID-19 intervention funds across 7 African countries. Both organizations will be leveraging their Tracka and Follow The Money platforms, as well as international chapters in other six focus African countries to activate a Pan-African tracking system for all COVID-19 funds received and donated to these countries.

Follow The Money Staff interviewing a COVID19 Palliatives Beneficiary

“Retrospectively, our experience with tracking COVID19 funds has shown a deeply rooted systemic profiteering culture, especially in an environment that lacks accountability and civic engagement.” said Oluseun Onigbinde, BudgIT’s Director and Co-founder. “We also observed that there is an increasing mistrust from citizens on the delivery of palliative care in Nigeria, Kenya and Liberia due to representatives who abuse the process and the absence of comprehensive citizen data” he added.

CODE’s Founder and Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, stated that “as nations of the world tackle the plague of coronavirus, with funding for African countries amassing in millions of dollars, it has become expedient to block financial leakages and ensure funds do not end up in personal pockets.”

“With CTAP, BudgIT and CODE will advocate for accountability, transparency, and open governance while strengthening civic awareness and ensuring that targeted governments use COVID-19 intervention funds effectively.  The project will address the threat of lack of accountability and the effects of COVID-19 on socio-economic development” Lawal added.

The response to pandemics should prioritize the participation of citizens, including needs assessments and provision of palliatives, procurement and delivery of items, thus, the primary aim of this project will be to drive citizens’ engagement as well as innovative capabilities of tech tools to develop an interactive portal on data relevant to COVID-19, and use these data to enable collaboration between citizen fact-checking programs and public institutions.  

Beyond the engagement sessions with focus non-profits and frontline leaders, the project will visualize and disseminate the contribution of stakeholders to the COVID-19 Relief Fund and other related programs. More importantly, requests of citizens in vulnerable areas will be itemized while both organizations’ sms-to-web platform will be leveraged to deliver relevant data to the government and other stakeholders based on citizens’ requests. The project will also curate stories of COVID-19 case management, palliative measures and its impact on the citizens. 

BudgIT and CODE are committed to working with relevant partners to understand the current transparency and accountability frameworks in focus countries; and devise strategies that combine citizen tracking and advocacy for reforms. Both organizations will promote collaboration and learning among local partners so they can be more effective and share lessons about accessing data, mobilizing citizens, and engaging governments. 

Our plan is to strengthen existing tools and build new ones where necessary. These tools must match citizens’ needs in the current emergency response and use this platform as a means to drive accountability on the importance of optimising public resources in an emergency situation. This project will be supported by the Global Integrity who will design a learning framework that allows for rapid scale while initial funding is provided by Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Skoll Foundation.

Consultancy: Youth Guide to Advocating for Gender Justice

Communications November 14, 2020 0

Consultancy: Youth Guide to Advocating for Gender Justice


Despite the Nigerian Government’s response/effort to improve its institutional and policy framework which have not yielded the desired result. The situation of the country’s GBV has even worsened with the Coronavirus pandemic which has led to more increase in the rate of gender based violence across Nigeria. More cases of rape, sexual violence, and abuse of girls and women’s rights have been recorded during this Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown in Nigeria. The Need to advocate for appropriate measures are put in place to  ensure no one is victimised and gender inequality is brought to fore in every discussion, planning and national or state strategy implementations. It is important for stakeholders which include development partners, local authorities, nonprofit as well as civil society organisations to work together to raise awareness and provide platforms for citizens engagement, advocacies and demand for gender justice in Nigeria. 

Connected Development (CODE) and YouthHubAfrica with support from ChristianAid will carry out a series of activities in Kaduna and Plateau State that include capacity building of gender justice youth advocates to ensure that the VAPP Act, Child Rights Act and other policies protecting the rights of women in the state are implemented and given adequate advocacy campaign for people to become informed. Doing this will not only reduce the incidences of violence against women and girls but will also ensure that adequate sanctions are meted on the perpetrators of these crimes. Forming this coalition of youth advocates on gender justice becomes necessary because of the incidences of GBV/VAWG/HP that are higher in the north with at least 3 of 10 girls experiencing one or more forms of GBV by the age of 15(NDHS 2013).

Scope of work: (Description of services, activities, or outputs)

Key deliverable:

  1. Assist with preparation, management, and updating as required of the training curriculum and Agenda 
  2. Develop the youth guide to advocating for Gender Justice

Duration and working schedule: 5 Days

Location: Nigeria

Duration: 18th November to 22nd November, 2020

Monitoring and progress control, including reporting requirements, periodicity format, and deadline:

Expected travel: None

Required expertise, qualifications, and competencies, including language requirements:

  • At least 5 years of relevant experience as a GBV expert
  • Previous engagements, volunteer, or work experience with an organisation that supports the gender equality  movement.
  • Demonstrates openness to change and ability to manage complexities
  • Responds positively to critical feedback and differing points of view during the development of the guide to advocating for gender justice.
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of The CA Gender justice and Youth Engagement Strategy.
  • Excellent communication abilities (oral, written and the ability to understand and be understood, diplomatic skills, drafting skills)
  • Fluency in English 
  • Strong attention to detail  
  • Organizational, task management and strong analytical skills
  • Ability to work under pressure

Application Deadline:  16/11/2020 at 12:00 AM


CODE’s Position: Nigeria’s 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA)

Communications October 4, 2020 0

The best laws – with the most altruistic intentions – can often be jeopardized and misanthropic in application…

The Need for a Presidential Assent of the Federal Audit Bill

Communications August 25, 2020 0

By Bukola Afeni

There are several benefits to be derived by the time President Muhammadu Buhari finally appends his signature to the Federal Audit Bill, passed by the National Assembly (NASS).

The Eight (8th) Senate, had in May 2018, passed a Bill for the establishment of the Federal Audit Service Commission, in line with Mr. President’s government’s anti-corruption fight.

The Bill was read the third time and passed at a plenary session presided over by then President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki. The Senate mandated its leadership to engage the executive with a view to getting Buhari to sign the bill before the end of the 8th NASS.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts (then), Matthew Urhoghide, while presenting his report, said: “This Bill is very important to the nation as passing it into law will form the bedrock for fighting corruption, which is one of the cardinal objectives of the President’s administration.


Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari

“It will empower the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, who has the constitutional mandate of auditing all accounts of the federation to nip corruption in the bud, ensure transparency in government transactions.”

Urhoghide added: “The Bill will address acute manpower shortage, existing in the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and bring it in tandem with supreme audit institutions and international best practices, as obtained in other climes such as South Africa, Ghana, and the United Kingdom.”

The Audit Bill, for the records, was not new to the 8th Senate. It was first passed by the House of Representatives in April 2016 and transmitted to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate passed the Bill on Thursday, March 1, 2018. But due to disparities in the version passed by the two chambers, a conference committee was set up to reconcile areas of differences. The Bill was eventually harmonized and passed by both chambers. The harmonized copy was forwarded to Mr. President for assent on January 8, 2019.

Sadly, the Audit Bill has since become orphaned, two years after its passage by NASS. The Bill was prematurely ‘murdered’ by the refusal of Mr. President to give it his assent. The Bill, among other things, will greatly assist in blocking revenue leakages and curtail corruption, when it finally becomes a law. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) such as Connected Development (CODE), has always been in the vanguard of anti-corruption.

Specifically, CODE, in collaboration with OXFAM Novib, is galvanizing Nigerians against corruption, through its various advocacy programs, one of which is massively mobilizing citizens to support the entrenchment of an audit law. It has since kick-started an online campaign, soliciting Nigerians to sign a petition, with a view to pressuring the government into assenting to the Audit Bill.

CODE noted that the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation plays a vital role in public financial management and anti-corruption measures, especially by ensuring compliance with financial rules and regulations and due process in public expenditure.

It, however, said that, currently, political interference and Constitutional constraints have limited the independence and functioning of the AGF. “The AGF currently lacks the oversight powers to enforce its mandate and there are no sanction measures against defaulting bodies and persons in place. This results in gross financial recklessness and public fund embezzlement that deprive the Nigerian government and people of money needed for development, in sectors such as health and education,” it added.

According to CODE, “the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (OAGF) reported that 65 MDAs had never submitted their financial statements for audit since January 12, 2017, when he assumed office. “Furthermore, the 2017 Audit Report published by the Office of Auditor General for the Federation had defaulting MDAs rising to 265, up from the 160 defiant ones in 2016.

“The AGF report noted that as of April 2018, 109 agencies had not submitted their financial statements beyond 2013, while 76 agencies last submitted for the 2010 financial year.”

While calling on President Buhari to assent to the Audit Bill, the civil society body, said the passage of the Bill will be a major feat in the fight against corruption and would ensure that MDAs submit their yearly audited financial accounts to the Auditor General for the Federation. Hence, preventing corruption, illicit financial flows, bribery, abuse of public office/trust, money laundering and mismanagement of public funds as reported in the Malabu/Dan Etete Case.

Similarly, both the Senate and House of Representatives Public Account Committees, have insisted that the Audit Bill that was passed in the 8th Assembly, which the President did not assent, remains very sacrosanct and would be resuscitated by the 9th Assembly.

The Chairman, Public Account Committee of the Senate, Sen. Urhoghide, and his House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Busayo Oluwole-Oke, who co-chaired a session of stakeholders on the Audit Bill, said the 9th NASS will breathe a new life into the Bill and ensure its passage again.

Both Sen. Urhoghide and Hon. Oluwole-Oke lamented that the nation’s current audit practice does not meet the global best practices and that necessary reforms that would empower and enable the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to function optimally and efficiently are imperative.

They spoke at a 3-day Stakeholders Consultative/Technical Session on the Audit Bill organized for members and staff of the Senate, House of Representatives Public Account Committees, and the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF) in Abuja, last October.

Head, Technical Support, Partnership to Engage, Reform, and Learn (PERL) Engaged Citizens (EC), Mr. John Mutu, who facilitated the session explained that it was aimed at finding a common solution to ensure that the Audit Bill succeeds in becoming a law.

Mutu explained that the main objective of the session is to provide a platform for the National Assembly’s Public Account Committees (NASS PACs), the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF) and the Presidency to reflect and review the Audit Bill, so as to identify areas of concerns that prevented the President from giving his assent to the Bill.

At the session, Urhoghide, noted: “We have to ensure proper auditing of the spending of public money. If we strengthen the office of the Auditor-General, it will block leakages and we will save a lot of money and this will also check corruption drastically”.

On his part, Oluwole-Oke said if the Bill becomes law, it would enable the Auditor General to carry out his duties very efficiently and effectively. “Unfortunately, the President withheld his assent even without giving reasons. Now the Bill is dead constitutionally. But we shall resuscitate it since our House rules give us the provision to start from where we stopped in the 8th Assembly,” he pointed out.

National Team Leader, Engaged Citizens Pillar (ECP) of DFID’s Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (PERL), Dr. Adiya Ode, during the auspicious session, noted that having the audit law in place would strengthen the Auditor General to perform his functions well, and also send a signal to corrupt people that they would be exposed and prosecuted.

Experts and scholars in their various presentations during the technical session, equally maintained that without the audit law in place, it might be very difficult to achieve thorough auditing and that the nation’s revenue would continue to leak, particularly in the government agencies that generate revenue for the nation.

It is incontrovertible that the absence of an audit law has given rise to impunity in the use of public resources in several MDAs. This is evidenced in the limitless numbers of probes conducted on key agencies of government, which completely indicted them of malpractices of different sorts.

The absence of proper auditing in the MDAs is also responsible for the fusion of unwarranted projects in the budget of most MDAs. Projects are not subjected to either procurement, financial, or performance audits.

It is therefore incumbent on the President Buhari-led government, to activate every necessary mechanism that will bolster its anti-graft fight.

The country direly needs a robust, and well-articulated audit law that will not only guide accounting officers and other responsible parties involved in the MDAs on the standard procedures in the application of public funds but will also encourage performance in programs and budgeting in the MDAs.

That is why Mr. President must once again, diligently re-scan the Audit Bill, carefully identify grey areas in the current Bill, and then facilitate the process for quick harmonization of the perceived grey areas with NASS, before proceeding to sign the bill into law.

Having a ‘progressive-defined’ audit law in place will indeed serve as an elixir for his government’s war against corruption.

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 . 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.