Category: Transparency and Accountability

Everything about government transparency, accountability and open government related issues

Third Quarter 2021 CODE/FTM report 

Communications March 1, 2022 0

The third quarter of 2021 was in furtherance of CODEs strategic plan. On the journey towards taking hold of governance processes and seeking more accountable systems, we made advancement in education, health, energy, governance sectors through various projects championed by vibrant youths who believe in an inclusive Nigeria for all by creating feedback loops between the people and the government and strengthening systems and communities along the way.

READ FULL REPORT HERE

Second Quarter 2021 Follow The Money Report

Communications March 1, 2022 0

In the first half, We recorded significant results from hosting an audacious COVID Transparency and Accountability Conference to kicking off the tracking of N1.1Bn Kaduna Constituency Projects, to advocating better living standards for residents in Oil-producing states, and working with State Governments to demand an end to GBV. We began this second half of the year on the bedrock of enhancing citizens’ engagement, building partnerships and collaborating with institutions who share in our vision to accelerate timely intervention for marginalised groups.

READ FULL REPORT HERE

 First Quarter 2021 Follow The Money Report

Communications March 1, 2022 2

We kick started the year ready to evolve and expand our work across more African countries, reaching more marginalized communities with the message of Follow The Money. To officially launch the programs and campaigns for the year, we engaged our HQ staff as it is the norm in a 3 days strategic and planning meeting in order to reinforce the organisational goals, build synergy across departments and map out deliverables and engagement strategies for our cohort of volunteers and champions.

READ FULL REPORT HERE

CODE signs MOU with NPHCDA to strengthen health sector accountability

Communications March 1, 2022 0

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Nigeria’s leading civil society organization, Connected Development (CODE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen and foster health sector accountability in Nigeria. 

The MOU is a vital step towards enabling CODE to further expands its tracking and evaluation of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across the country, to inform its advocacy in canvassing for improved primary healthcare infrastructure and service delivery.

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Follow The Money Convening Across 6 Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria

Communications May 31, 2021 0

Follow The Money is strategically decentralizing its operational structures to allow zonal champions to own the vision and encourage massive volunteer recruitment at the community level. To achieve this, the management of CODE organized a one day “zonal convening” for its FTM state leads in the 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria.

The sessions were designed to review challenges of lack of access to information and other issues that are peculiar to each region, compile success stories and develop strategic plans. These are efforts to strengthen the capacity of regional/state leads and FTM champions to be able to drive the vision of the initiative and achieve needed results with focus on FTM’s Theory of Change. 

CODE’s Community Engagement Officer, takes a session on budget tracking.

The Capacity-building session with CODE’s Community Engagement Director, Busayo Morakinyo, set the tone for understanding CODE’s value and service delivery to her constituencies. “One of the goals of the organization is to strengthen the capacity of her state and local champions and help them grow to be able to demand transparency and accountability from the government.” Mr Morakinyo also emphasised the importance of participatory community mobilization and facilitating information sharing through community champions.

Cross-section of participants in the South-East

Topics on government data-mining, budget reviews and policy formulations were also discussed. The need for strong collaboration and partnership with community-based associations, youth groups, and community leaders using advocacy, to strengthen community engagement.

Participants also learnt about funding, idea generation, using social media as an advocacy tool to drive change and mobilising citizens.

Getting Children Back to Classroom: The ‘Follow The Money’ Success in Kaduna State

Communications May 10, 2021 2

By Shakir Akorede

It’s no more news—one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria.

If that is appalling, generally speaking, the case of the northern part of the country is even scarier. In northern Nigeria, Only 61% of 6–11 year-olds regularly attend primary school, while only 35.6% of children aged 36–59 months receive early childhood education, as revealed by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Nigeria’s education crisis is blamed on many factors most commonly economic barriers, ill socio-cultural practices and, recently, security challenges. But one prime factor is often ignored—corruption. According to Transparency International, more than half of Nigeria’s education budget is lost to corruption. Sadly, this robs the sector of resources needed to get poor children in urban and rural communities in school so they have equal access to education.

Although Nigeria is known for its low education budget, corruption is yet responsible for poor funding and thus abysmal infrastructures, inadequacy of classrooms and quality teachers as well as poor learning environment—all which contribute to Nigeria’s 10.5 million out-of-school children.

Arguably, war against corruption in the education sector seems the most vital step to reverse the dangerous trend.

This explains why Follow The Money, supported by the MacArthur Foundation, deployed its advocacy and project monitoring arsenal to ensure the delivery of $1.5 million (570 million Naira) in education infrastructure across four local governments in Kaduna State, playing a tripartite role: community engagement, project tracking and assurance of quality service delivery, and taking pupils off the street.

“Our work was important in Kaduna State because the state had signed up on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – the first Nigerian state to do so,” said Hamzat Lawal, founder and CEO of Follow The Money. However, being an OGP member isn’t a silver bullet to good governance and accountability. “For democracy to really work in Nigeria, we must take citizen engagement very seriously,” added Hamzat.

And that proves to be true. “Before the coming of Follow The Money, the community was in the dark. We didn’t know what the government was doing to us,” Yohanna Zuberu, a community member in Jema’a, opens up in a documentary. His assertion would be affirmed by an official of the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). “There’s been a gap in the interaction with the community members,” the official, Mubarak Muhammed, said, adding however, “With the constant advocacy by Follow The Money, we are able to say that community members are more aware of what is happening around them. There’s this renewed effort to ensure that for every new project we must inform the people of what is to come and what the expectations should be.”

As of January 2020, Follow The Money’s civic action in Kaduna has facilitated the construction and rehabilitation of 23 primary schools in the four local governments of Jema’a, Kajuru, Kudan, and Zangon Kataf, with an impressive enrollment of over 200,000 children in those schools and other existing ones.

Interestingly, this effort would trigger unexpected results in Kaduna State. By September 2019, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) had launched an extensive campaign, going far beyond the four local governments, to enrol 145,000 children in school. In a news report, the board’s Social Mobilisation Acting Director, Ibrahim Aminu said that the policy was targeted at all categories of out-of-school children with the aim to enrol 727,764 out-of-school children in the next five years.

Making the Impossible Possible

Children education is one of the most intractable social challenges in Northern Nigeria. No surprise Follow The Money is seen to be moving mountains.

“The strategy used in Kaduna to decrease the number of out-of-school children was to get the community members and the educational sector to work together. First we created School Monitoring Teams (SMTs) teams, which is a mixture of all the community governance structures to be able to track the implementation of school projects across board” explains Kingsley Agu, Follow The Money project officer.

Expatiating on that model, Hamzat Lawal notes, “Follow The Money bottom-up and top-bottom approach is taking data needs assessment from the community input, putting it into government development plans and taking government commitment down to the people to collect feedback.” On the Kaduna education project, he adds with stern commitment on his face, “Follow The Money would help ensure the acceleration and implementation of this important policy commitment from the government, creating an environment where citizens can give feedback and where they can hold their government to account on public expenditure.”

On rebuilding primary education infrastructure in Kaduna State, Follow the Money is not only strengthening accountability and delivery of public goods to the most vulnerable section of the society, it is improving access to education, creating new hopes for a better future.

“We have recorded a considerable amount of success in project implementation, especially in terms of transparency. Gone are the days where projects are being awarded and not being delivered even when monies have been paid,” a SUBEB official says.

Creating a More Inclusive Community through Sustainable Sanitation in Delta State

Communications December 2, 2020 2

By Blessing Uwisike

Delta state, like neighbouring states in the Niger- Delta riverine region, has had more than its fair share of contention with one of its most contumacious problems: Open Defecation (OD) due to lack of toilets and poor access to clean water. Unfortunately the state government has followed the steps of its predecessors by assuring prompt actions to address the situation, but slow to back up its promises with sustainable solutions.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State

In 2019, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa inaugurated the Steering Committee for the Water Supply, Sanitation & Hygiene and passed the State WASH bill to law, but the State WASH System has recorded slow progress in implementing the policies entrenched in the law. Despite an acknowledgement of the deplorable condition of WASH facilities in Delta state by the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Ochor Chris Ochor, no significant step has been taken to improve the quality of access to clean water for thelife of residents in Delta State, especially the rural areas.

A 2018 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) data provided by the United Nations reveals that 68 percent of the Nigerian population have access to basic water supply, and progress towards achievement of universal and equitable access to this water supply has been slow. Only 19 per cent of the national population use safely managed sanitation services, 24 per cent are still practicing OD in Nigeria and 30 per cent in rural areas. The minimal access to clean water, Open Defecation and consequently poor hygiene causes diarrhoea that kills children yearly and puts women at precarious health risks.

On the 5th of February 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)  signed a $60.4 million Memorandum of Understanding with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to improve the management and delivery of Effective Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Services” (E-WASH) services to help residents live healthier lives through reliable access to clean water. The project, closely supervised by Connected Development (CODE), a social accountability Non Governmental organisation will ensure access to clean water and reduce water borne diseases by “strengthening their Water Boards’ capacity to make solid investment decisions, improve billing and collection systems, and ensure greater responsiveness to customer concerns.” (Culled from the US Embassy to Nigeria website).

This partnership is critical as the geographical terrain of the Niger- Delta consists of creeks, rivers and large water bodies. The people of the Niger- Delta and Delta State particularly have built their lives around their physical environment; engaging in commercial activities like fishing; accessing water for household use from the river, and defecating in the same water with hopes that the river carries the faeces away. This thought pattern is quite excusable as the education levels are low with 65% having achieved at most primary education, and income levels correspondingly low.  It is estimated that between 50 and 65% live below the poverty level. The complex social environment which has toilet spaces hanging directly above water bodies so that the fecal waste is emptied directly into the river has facilitated an unusually high rate of Open Defecation leading to extreme environmental degradation. Residents who can afford functional water closets are not entirely free from these challenges as the high water level and frequent flooding have the tendency to contaminate their supposedly clean water, making it good enough for only flushing.

Women, Girls, Children and Disabled people are the worst hit when hygiene is not prioritised. Children are exposed to diarrhoea due to unsafe water, while girls and women are not able to fully carry out their daily activities (being in school and going to the workplace especially), as they are forced to stay only in locations where they are most comfortable during their periods, this is usually the home. The disabled are also stuck while trying to use public toilet facilities that were not created with consideration for them.

Addressing the Problem of poor Hygiene through Improved Sanitation Measures and Accountability

Every reform must start from the top, and then cascaded to the people at the grassroot; in the same light, the onus is on the government to put effective measures in place that ensures the availability of functional and clean public toilets, potable water, and hygiene education of its citizens. State WASH apparatus, Rural Water and Sanitation Supply Agency (RUWASSA), LGA WASH departments and units, and community Water Supply, Sanitation And Hygiene Committee (WASHCOMs) must be clearly established and work towards one goal – To sustain better access to Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). 

To show the government’s commitment to partner with the citizens, Community Led Total Sanitation must be prioritised. While this sanitation strategy is broadly used in Nigeria, strengthening it will enable the system to yield maximum dividends. Trained WASH specialists should also be tasked with the coordination of educating communities and capacity-building in the most prone regions, with the purpose of driving behavioural change and  hygiene consciousness. Educating members of the community (especially riverine areas) on the dangers of open defecation; and supporting them with adequate facilities and knowledge sharing that encourages them to take the maintenance of the public toilets as their personal responsibility will not only promote the well being of the people, it fosters unity and cooperation among them.

Directly engaging policy makers and stakeholders like USAID and UNICEF and updating civil society organizations (CSOs) like CODE, which is currently tracking the eradication of Open Defecation in Delta State, on the progress recorded on the use of allocated funds will ensure that funds released to tackle poor hygiene are well disbursed. 

Prioritising young girls women, children and the disabled while restructuring plans are drafted will address gender parity, increase income opportunities for women, contribute to the overall well being of the family, ensure a progressive girls education, and make for an inclusive society.