Category: Nigeria

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

Ani Nwachukwu Agwu June 16, 2018 2

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 1

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.

 

 

 

Essentialism of Community in Transparency and Accountability in Nigeria

Hamzat Lawal September 11, 2017 1

Today is exactly nine months since we have been experimenting the iFollowTheMoney community and this is a perfect time to write about this community;  what led the Follow the Money Team to the community, why the need for it and what exactly is the future we see to have invested in such a platform.

What is a Community?

Merriam Webster defined community as an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (such as species) in a common location.

With the definition, there are some key elements of a community which are “interacting population” and “in a common place”.

As such, we cannot have an interacting population without a common place.

While reading Babajide Durosaye post on medium about community, I cannot but agree with his definition of a community which he defines as “Communities are networks with shared ideals or demographics, people concentrate on building valuable relationships rather than using each other”.

At Follow the Money, we have community champions in various states and communities in the country and outside of it, we cannot afford to have the kind of community which Babajide defined. Hence, there is a need for us to improvise and find a better way to bring people together in a common place (ifollowthemoney).

 

The Journey to Follow the Money Community

In the past, Follow the Money Community Reporters (as they are fondly called then) uses WhatsApp as a common place to interact, the WhatsApp group has grown to the point that we had to group them according to geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

We had six groups on WhatsApp and sometimes while waking up (even though I am always on the group at midnight communicating with the night owls amongst the Community Reporters) the user’s end up meeting more than 100 messages on the group which eventually led to us having to losing some of our community reporters. Hence, the need for a better community (common place) to bring people together to interact.

At a point, due to the staff strength of Connected Development as we have only two persons managing the 6 WhatsApp groups, the users and also the social media accounts, so we started missing out relevant contents coming from the community champions on the WhatsApp.

Also, on boarding new users on the platform (WhatsApp) started becoming a problem as we keep on repeating the same on boarding message over and over again.

 

Was That The Only Reason Why we Have to Switch to Have a Universal Community?

NO, we have a big vision of expanding across Africa as we started receiving an overwhelming request for expansion and we also plan on making Follow the Money a household name by having a movement in all the states in Nigeria while having community champions in all 774 local governments in Nigeria.

Also, we need to have a knowledge sharing platform where anyone who is interested in our work could learn from, connect and collaborate on Follow the Money activities while taking some factors into cognizance – like, where we can have people learning from one other, a platform where we can have a community (movement kind of thing). A place we can have people with a shared interest (Transparency and Accountability in Government in Africa and beyond) and a place people can be motivated to act by learning from the actions of others.

We are more aware that it was because people are not asking questions from our political office holders on how our collective monies have been spent, and that was why we keep on having same corruption narratives.

Alas, we had seen in the past and present when people in government reacted to our request knowing we follow the money (no one wants to be labeled someone who embezzled community project money).

 

Is That All?

With close to a thousand members,  the community is gradually translating into the largest movement of community champions working on transparency and accountability in their various community., These inspiring members are the intermediaries that are taking the Follow The Money work to local communities, mobilizing them, to engage their various government on basic infrastructure issues.

Do we Have a Requirement for Community Champions?

I still do not know how to answer this question but the most important thing is, a Follow the Money Community Champion is a fire starter. He is someone who thinks something must be done about the gross corruption in governance and he is ready to make an impact in his community by Following The Money. Thus enabling the community to have access to good governance,  improved infrastructures and in the proper sense, an empowered community who can speak for themselves and ask government questions about how their monies are spent.

Just as my friend, Babajide Durosaye (never met or know him o) categorized the community ecosystem in his article, I understand that there are movers of a community and such structure is also expected of a Transparent and Accountability community like ifollowthemoney, but for now – the conversation is just getting started and we hope to grow the community to that level someday soon.

We are in need of more enablers, and you may want to become one too by joining the conversation on Transparency and Accountability on ifollowthemoney which we created for change makers like you!

Have a contribution or clarification? Do not hesitate to leave a comment on the box below.

Photo by Nathaniel Tetteh on Unsplash

Why We Must Embrace the HeForShe Culture – Olusegun Olagunju

Hamzat Lawal June 16, 2017 118

L-R Hamzat Bala Lawal, Senator Jummai Alhassan

Ever imagined the world where there wouldn’t be differences within the gender grouping? Ever wished your female children are accorded same respect as given to the male folks out there?

 

These drove the challenge for the HeForShe campaign that was created by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and empowerment of women, HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, enlisting men and boys as equal partners in the responsible crafting and implementing of a shared vision of gender equality, with norms of gender equality, non-violence and respect, and thus together positively reshaping society.

Purely the fundamental objectives of HeForShe campaign are to change discriminatory behaviours, through building awareness of the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment and the crucial role men can play in their own lives, and at more structural levels in their communities, to end the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.

HeForShe also provides a platform for men and boys to become advocates for women and girls, and to behave accordingly, telling their stories to the global community about the actions they are taking to end inequality.

There are mixed feelings in the acceptance of this cause but to know if this call for change is necessary, we need to have had a fair knowledge of how gender-inequality wrecks the society.
Research estimates suggest that, on the current trajectory, gender equality would not be achieved until 2095. With men and boys at the table and engaged in the issue, we believe that we can more than double the Speed of change.

Can we then fold our arms and anticipate 2095 without acting as fast as we can and allow this unhealthy phase continue in this devastating form?

In this light, an event was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development at the International Conference Centre for officially and Nationally Launch this HeForShe campaign in Nigeria to sensitize the National mind-set of the need to act now for a gender equal world.

Present at the event were notable figures, the Vice President of Nigeria; Professor Yemi  Osinbajo, The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development; Senator Aisha Jummai AlHassan and Phyllis Nwokedi; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

The Ministry channels visibly took all present around what we stand to enjoy as this campaign kicks off. It was relayed that the Ministry’s ambitious aim is to secure the commitment of one billion men to make changes in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Those changes may range from small steps – acknowledging the issue and recognizing that the status quo is acceptable to big steps that directly make changes to individual or community lives.

Hamzat Lawal; The Chief Executive of Connected Development, an organization that has done well in ensuring that marginalized people and sect are empowered and have their voices amplified was also present at the event and gave a direct speech on the focus and his stance on gender equality and parity.

He said “Although we have come a long way from a century ago regarding the rights of women and girls, there is room for improvement. According to UN Women, gender equality is defined as “equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys”.

For long, the attention and the pressure have fallen only on women to be the ones who should believe in gender equality. This is wrong. Both men and women should play an active role in ensuring equality between the sexes. As the popular Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says- “we should all be feminists”! This creed should be passed on to our future generations.

He further enthused “I am happy to be a young man who truly believes in gender equality. In my organization, 70% of my workforce is women.  As of 2016, my organization – CODE has directly impacted 26,811 rural lives, especially those of women and children in ensuring that educational and health care appropriations meant for them are well spent through our “Follow The Money” campaigns.
“However, this is not enough. As an Activist, I strongly believe that now is the time to stand up on our tiptoes, extend our arms to the sky, and confess to the world that we are sick of our women and girls missing out of school, and being victims of conflict and domestic violence.”Lastly, Lawal pointed out that “My greatest dream is that one day, I’ll have a little daughter and a son of my own. When my son asks me what it means to be a man, and when my daughter asks me what it means to be a woman, I should be able to tell them one similar thing- “Boys and Girls are equal!

“I implore our youth to join the HeforShe campaign by standing with women and girls around the world who deserve access to education, healthcare, water, and sanitation, as well as decent work.  As a great country, we could lead Africa in achieving the sustainable development goals.”

It is anticipated that out of the signatories to HeForShe, half will take the initial step of joining the solidarity campaign by making a simple positive pledge for gender equality. It is also projected that another quarter may make the pledge and then be inspired to become more engaged by taking a second step-to donate, to advocate and to sensitize themselves to gender equality issues. And a final quarter may deepen their engagement by making and following through on a major commitment that substantially contributes to social change.

 Every story of a champion making a difference has the potential to inspire others to become more engaged. Each man who takes a new action helps all of the humanity to take an additional step towards gender equality.

I advise you to Take Action Now for a Gender – Equal World.

Olusegun is the Social Media Strategist for Connected Development & FollowTheMoney. He’s a Social commentator and Social Media expert.

Addressing Citizenry Extensive Concerns on the 2017 Budget Proposal

Chambers Umezulike February 24, 2017 1

On 23 February 2017, the Director-General (DG) of the Budget Office of the Federation choreographed a media briefing on several issues surrounding the 2017 Budget Proposal. The DG also used the briefing to make certain clarifications on public outcries over several budget items on the proposal. Most of these outcries were on many frivolous items (especially on electricity and utility bills of MDAs; several humongous expenses on the state house budget on utensils and feeding, electricity bills, travel expenses etc.); repetitions of budget items; budget cycle crisis; the budget preparation expenses; lack of details on some of the items; budget padding etc.

In attendance at the briefing were the media and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). In responding to some of these concerns, the DG took his time to counter some of the claims:

1). He stated that there was no sort of budget padding on the 2017 budget proposal.

2). That there were no frivolous items. That most of the extensive increments such as state house proposed expenditure on utensils and utility bills; electricity bills, security and cleaning services payments in MDAs etc. were either as a result of arrears of such bills/expenses or because funds were not later provided for them on the 2016 budget (meaning they were not implemented.)

3). He stated that there were no repetitions on the proposal, unless the repetitions being referred to were budget items on the 2016 one that re-reflected on the 2017 proposal, which was as a result of the fact that funds were not provided for such items on the former.

4). He reassured the audience of his liaison with the National Assembly to ensure that budget cycle would be from January – December of every year, which was clearly stated on the constitution, as against the culture of having a previous budget being implemented in another fiscal year.

5). He also explained that the details-deficit on some of the budget items were as a result of the perspective to keep the budget simple, for public consumption. That however that his agency would ensure further details on budget items when preparing subsequent budgets.

Representing Connected Development (CODE) at the event, I further engaged the DG and raised concerns over the NGN305/$ calculation on the budget proposal (while $1 is valued at NGN 520 at the contemporaneous market); if there are extensive plans for enhanced transparency and accountability in the 2017 budget implementation; our expectancy to lay hands on the 3rd and 4th quarters’ reports of 2016 budget implementation; his plans to ensure that revenue realization deficit would not frustrate the 2017 budget implementation drawing on the country’s experience with the 2016 one; and getting access to an extensive version of the budget that had further details on some of the line items. For the latter, I mentioned the ‘Talking Sanitation’, as well as ‘Afforestation’ and ‘Tree Planting’ budget items on the proposal, under the Ministry of Environment, which all lacked details such as where and how. Lack of such specific details has frustrated the works of CSOs that are into governmental capital expenditure tracking.

In addressing my concerns, the DG made commitments that were all in line with Nigeria’s commitments on the Open Government Partnership. He stated that the 3rd quarter 2016 budget implementation report would soon be in public domain while the 4th quarter’s would soon be out too. He further stated that there would be increased transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in the 2017 budget implementation. On this, he cited plans to have a digital platform for 24/7 citizen engagement on the budget. He also mentioned that there would be a breakdown on project basis subsequently when funds are released to MDAs. In addition, he promised a quarterly media briefing on the 2017 budget implementation. These were all good news and great outcomes for nonprofits that are into Open Governance advocacy. He mentioned categorically that the revenue realization plan on the proposal is quite realizable and that the FOREX regime crisis would not affect the budget implementation.

This media engagement is a step in the right direction as bringing all stakeholders involved and addressing public concerns on the budget proposal have boosted citizen participation in governance and also provided a platform for clarifications on several portions of the budget, as well as for stakeholders to make suggestions. It is hoped that the Director keeps to all the new commitments he made at the briefing and ensuring extensive open financial governance in the budget implementation. From our part, we are sending an FOI request for an extensive version of the budget, which he promised CODE would be provided with. And before I forget, he commented that he likes our name, ‘Follow The Money.’

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Program Officer at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Nigeria’s Economic Recession, The 2017 Budget As The Magic Wand

Chambers Umezulike December 22, 2016 3

Following our works in ensuring transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in governmental spending, I represented Connected Development (CODE) in the public presentation and breakdown of the 2017 budget. This was held on the 19th of December, 2016 at the Conference Hall of the State House, Abuja. The invitation was from the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma. The event was a postscript of the 2017 budget presentation to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the event, in which relevant governmental/non-governmental stakeholders were in attendance, Sen. Udoma took about 90 minutes to breakdown/present the lustrated ”Budget of Recovery and Growth.” He stated, “the budget reflects the government’s commitment to restore the economy on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth.” He started with a brief analysis of the performance of the 2016 budget. Highlights from the analysis showed that as at the Q3 of 2016, oil production was at 1.81 mbpd as against the predicted 2.2mbpd on the 2016 budget. The exchange rate was at N305/US$ as against the predicted N197/USD. In addition, GDP growth rate which was predicted at 4.3% was at -2.24%. Inflation which was predicted at 9.81% was at 17.85%. And ultimately, the government has only realized 75% of the 2016 budget revenue. A take home from his analysis is that poor performance of the 2016 budget, hugely contributed to the country’s economic recession and worsening macro-economic indicators.

In the breakdown of the 2017 budget, the Minister commented, ”the budget was designed to expand partnership between public and private sectors, including development capital to leverage and springboard resources for growth.” In sum, the budget intends to focus on infrastructural expansion, establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), expansion of agriculture, encouraging the growth of small & medium industries, and providing a social safety net for poor Nigerians. The N7.298 trillion budget has key assumptions such as: oil production at 2.2mbpd, benchmark oil price at US$42.5/b, exchange rate at N305/US$, GDP Growth Rate at 2.5%. The 2017 budget envisages a total revenue of N4.94 trillion, exceeding that of 2016 by 28%. The projected revenue realisation from oil was N1.985 trillion and Non-oil, N1.373 trillion.

The capital expenditure was at N2.24 trillion (30.7%) with ”Ministries” such as Power, Works & Housing, Transportation, Special Intervention Programmes, Defence, Water Resources etc. taking N529 billion, N262 billion, N150 billion, N140 billion, N85 billion respectively.

While there in several initiatives on the 2017 budget, such as the recapitalization of the Banks of Industry and Agriculture by N15 billion, N50 billion for the establishment of SEZs and the benchmark oil price at US$42.5/b (if OPEC keeps on its esplanade of cutting down oil production), there are several key concerns that quickly comes to mind:

1). The problem has always been implementation crisis as well as lack of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in governmental spending. We call for increased transparency and accountability in the budget’s implementation.

2). Participatory budgetary process in the preparation of the 2017 budget was very poorly implemented especially with respect to involving CSOs and leaders of local communities.

3). The performance of the 2016 budget still remains poor, most of its capital items are still at the contracting stage.

4). No. 3 leads to a key concern about how the government intends to manage the whole kerfuffle of the 2016 spill-over in 2017, with the weak coordination chain we are seeing now.

5). Planning the 2017 Fiscal Year on N305/US$ is quite unrealistic with several FOREX rates out there. The Central Bank should find a way to address the worsening FOREX crisis and harmonize the rates.

6). The 2.2mbpd oil production estimate might not be realized, following the continuing oil pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta which the government has not found a sustainable means to address.

7). The N2.2 trillion budgeted capital expenditure is still so nanoscopic to what is needed to stimulate the economy. The government must find a way of reversing the trend of having recurrent expenditure taking over almost 80% of the budget of several sectors.

8). While the government is preaching financial prudence, it’s quite paradoxical that several overhead items of the State House have increments on the average of 250% from their 2016 appropriations.

9). #FollowTheMoney team of CODE urgently await a part release of the performance of the 2016 budget performance, while we continue tracking the implementation of its capital items in rural communities.

Why we visualize Information for Advocacy

Hamzat Lawal October 13, 2016 8

A good design for visualizing information for advocacy is one that achieves its intended purpose within a network of cultural, social and political interactions.

To use visual information for advocacy, we have to look at the base of interaction, that is the network of people who engage with the issue in different ways. The way it can be deployed through a network are also affected by the use of and access to technology.

There are four elements involved, information, design, technologies and networks. They should be considered in every visual campaign. Whether we are presenting a narrative of health, girl child education, violence against police or freedom of expression or even documenting trends of corruption, it best to use the available technology in order to deliver the necessary information in its appropriate form or design to the relevant networks of people. The combination will determine the communicative power of the images we create and ultimately, the effectiveness of our campaigns.

(more…)

My Internship At CODE has unfortunately come to an end by Nkem

Hamzat Lawal October 4, 2016 10

Before I could realize it, my three months internship at Connected Development has unfortunately come to an end.

After three months of exciting and unforgettable time at CODE, I can say it has been an awesome experience. I would like to take a moment to remember and cherish our times together. It has been great interacting and knowing each and every one of you. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with you all. During my stay at CODE, my associates gave me support and through their encouragement and guidance, I have been able to excel at the tasks I was assigned to.

The atmosphere there was awesome, peaceful, with good hearted and thoughtful people around. For an introvert like me, CODE presents a culture shock, almost everyone is an extrovert. I got acquainted with people who have devoted their lives for the betterment of the society; with no self-gain or greedy motive behind it. They chose social work as their profession because they wanted to do it, not for gaining publicity or making money but for the satisfaction of joy of giving.

nkem-w-hamyI’m part of the data mining team for Follow The Money. As a coordinator, I enter money figures of capital projects meant for rural communities in the area of health, education and environment into the bulleta word we use in our innovative virtual newsroom. Looking for these figures and filling them into the bullet wasn’t an easy task but once I got into the routine, I started to enjoy every minute of it.

I’ve had a brilliant time at CODE and honestly it’s a shame it had to end. I will greatly miss the team.

I want to use this opportunity to Thank  Hamzy! For his full support. I’m so thankful that you are my boss. You are not just a leader to me but an inspiration. Your hard work has been my inspiration since i joined CODE. Working for you is a pleasure, an experience that i will truly treasure. Thank you.

I look forward in the near future for an opportunity to work in CODE and contribute the little I can give.

Cheers,

Nkem Iroala.team

 

7000 People Registered For My First Training, So What?

Hamzat Lawal August 24, 2016 0

On this particular day, a guy came to my office and requested to have a training with our team on GIS for social impact.

I was so excited to attend the training, being the first training I will be attending since I was employed in the firm Follow The Money.

My chief executive said Tunde, talk to this guy (the trainer) so you both can make this happen — again, this is my first responsibility that will be involving an outsider.

I cannot afford not to work my best on this, I said to myself. I and the guy both exchanged numbers and he left.

The weekend after the guy visit, we all went for a colleague wedding and the outing was fun and interesting, my team bus took the first, that’s not the story by the way.

Shortly after we resumed back to work, I call the guy up (let’s call him T), we talked and exchanged emails. Which will be the next line of action.

On the next day after the exchange of the email, T sent me a mail with the agenda of the training and I had to copy my chief executive and the administrator officer so they can be duly informed of the email sent by T.

Hey man, next time — anything that had to do with planning has to pass through the admin, said the administrator officer, I felt dejected as it sounds as if am doing someone else work in which all I did was as directed.

Still after that, I still have to do all the planning, the invitation and all the rest on myself. I designed a Google form for the event registration, sent a mail to our Google group and pop, everything was set out.

I checked through the response on Google form and noticed only 17 people registered.

On the day, I woke up early and felt none responsive, I guess my malaria and the event turnout made me weak, but I still have to go. I can’t stand to disappoint those that registered already. I just have to let all shame go and face the reality.

Just as predicted, I was late, and even one of the participants got to the venue which I am to open up before me. I had to rushed things out and yeah, all was set.

I called, T and he said his team are already on their way. When they eventually arrived, I have 3 people in the venue. I started calling those who registered up and we doesn’t even remember registering for such course, some are far away from Abuja while some were acting like am calling the wrong number.

Well, at the end. Though, the turnout was not that good but we all have something to gain at the end of the training. I felt bad again, because none of my so called team showed up for the training. They made it looks as if I wanted it and I should face it myself.

I did faced it myself and I am glad I did. I met new friends, exchange emails and am totally glad I did it.


On that note, I am still looking forward to organizing another event very soon. As I will be leading a lab training for plusacumen. I learned a lot from this first experience as it makes me want to try out another one.

I wish I could be afraid of trying, but no — I can only try.

Great thanks to @xniyi for facilitating the training. And yes, to my boss. Though he’s not with me, but he gave me the opportunity to.

P.S: that picture is not all of us, some already went before our office assistant make this happen. I should commend him also, Titus, you are a rare gem.

Photo Credit: Titus

Wadiam Papka: My Internship Experience with CODE so Far

Hamzat Lawal June 22, 2016 3

On a fateful Monday evening, as I discussed with my sister on certain plans I had made for myself for summer 2016 amongst which I mentioned an interest in working in any organization to gain an experience and also experience the real world. With excitement she exclaimed, “Yes!! I know an organization you would love to work in” and with my funny facial expression I replied, “ how serious can you be? I haven’t even enjoyed my summer yet and you want me to start working? I was just joking oo!”

Little did I know she went out of her way to reach out to the organization for a placement interview and at night she sent me a message “we have a place to go on Friday at 11am, but before then make sure you read on Connected Development [CODE] and have an idea about it.” I did exactly what she said and I found myself constantly visiting the organization’s website even when I want to check up something on the Internet, I kept checking on their website as well.

As Friday came, the clock kept ticking as my heart kept panting hard. I began to panic while different thoughts were flying into my head “what if they don’t accept you? Why can’t you just say you are not interested again? Is it really necessary to gain the experience? Would you be welcomed into the organization?”

While all these thoughts were traveling in my head, I found myself in front of a sign post reading “Connected Development, Empowering Marginalized Communities”.

Then I knew the work experience was real. I shook off the fear in me, and walked in. Immediately I opened the door I saw about six people looking at me and they took their faces off while they all worked on their laptops.

Walking further, I saw a “young chap” in an Alhaji’s cap on, I was wondering ‘ Is this the owner of the organization? Or is this his friend?  All these assumptions were rectified when he introduced himself as Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive of CODE. He asked what I knew about CODE, and I poured all I read from the website. He cracked jokes and I laughed, it served as a piece of relief for me while I was expecting to see a man who had a straight face and does not smile after all the stories I heard from friends about their bosses at various organizations where they happen to work.  To my amazement, this man was totally different. After our conversation, he told me ‘Wadiam, welcome to CODE, let me introduce you to the team.”  Having met the team, and introduced myself, I was totally calm to have seen a little me accepted as an intern in CODE.

Two weeks later, I received an email urging me to resume on June 8, 2016 at 8am. I was quite sad as I expected to resume by 9am, but well, I obviously had to adapt.

I walked in on June 8, with my shy self, as I met everyone, they embraced me and we developed a relationship within ourselves. I would basically regard CODE not as an organization but rather a family.

Sadly, on my second day at CODE, I had an experience of a lifetime. As I sat on a chair, reading an article on my laptop, within the twinkle of an eye, I found myself on the floor. I realized I just fell down not knowing I sat down a bad chair, it was so funny and at the same time it wasn’t funny because I felt embarrassed. But then! When I remember that fall, I just sit and laugh on my own because of the way everything just occurred in seconds.

IMG_5984So far so good, working with this family, I have learnt to use the Google drive, social media as means of creating awareness to the public not only chatting and communicating with friends, I have also learnt to build up my self-confidence. Building my confidence is one of the best things I have learnt knowing my very shy part as a person. In the same vein, I have learnt how to build proper and healthy relationship with people while working as a team.

While working as an intern at CODE, I expect to teach a lot of things aside the ones I have learnt already. I would like to still understand the aspect of development strategies, making a stringent policy and how to implement as well as review such policies to enable its efficiency.

I would say on a brief note that this being my first internship experience, has been an amazing and challenging one for me as I would always want to return and work here after my school.