Category: Uncategorized

Senate urges FG to approve funds for #SaveShikira

Hamzat Lawal June 3, 2016 0

The Senate on Thursday, June 2, urged the federal government to urgently approve and release the needed intervention funds from the ecological funds office for urgent remediation to help #saveshikira and affected communities.
In a three paragraph motion read by the Niger East senatorial district representative, David Umaru, the Senate called on the key federal government (ministry of health, solid minerals and environment) to re-mediate the environment and promote safer mining programmes for artisan miners.
The motion  is titled: The urgent remediation of lead poisoning in Shikira community of Niger state.
Hence, the Senate also called on  the Senate committee on solid minerals to review the 2007 mining act to reflect present realities in the sector as it affects local communities and artisan miners.
While-making contributions on #saveshikira, Umaru said the Senate is shocked at the survey result of the Federal Ministry of Health, confirming that 149 children who were under age five were tested for lead.
He added that the Senate is worried that environmental testing of residential buildings during the same survey indicated that there was a severe contamination of the environment.
“That early childhood exposure has been linked to violent criminal behavior later in the early adult life,It is therefore estimated that childhood lead exposure is costing developing countries 992 billion dollars annually due to reduction in IQ’s and earning potential according to a new study published recently,”he said
He noted that “The potential of lead poisoning to irrevocably inflict long term neurocognitive deficits on generations, there is need to urgently address this issue of national importance,
“This is a community that is already living below poverty line. All the children are already infected by this epidermic,” he said.
Also speaking , Shehu sanni representing Kaduna central senatorial district said the nation should work towards establishing a nuclear act.
“What the senate can do is to take the activities of illegal matters seriously. We have seen foreigners and Asians siphoning our resources. We should take an action that will address the problem,” he said.
There was a lead outbreak epidemic that recorded 65 cases in May 2015 in Rafi local government, which killed more than 28 children below the age of five. Many of which have  died in Shikira village of Madaka district, Rafi local government area of Niger State.
The affected children suffered convulsion and weakness of limbs as medical examination proved that the children died from lead poising arising from illegal artisan gold mining activities in the area.

5 ways to prevent LEAD poison

Hamzat Lawal May 20, 2016 0

Earlier, we talked about what LEAD poison is and ways one could get in contact with it. This week I will be talking about the ways in which it could be prevented. As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure,” the essence of this is to ensure that we are all aware of the deadly disease and strife to end it. Additionally, to lend a helping hand to victims across the world. It is noteworthy to bear in mind that it is easier to prevent LEAD poisoning infections than to reverse its consequences;

1.  Ensure your Homes are Clean – Remember in the previous edition I noted that LEAD could be found in paints of old houses, therefore houses mostly those with over 20 years record of construction should at all times be kept clean by dusting regularly, mop as often as possible.

2. Always Wash your Hands  – Many people find it more stressful or tiring to wash their hands as expected. I have met lots of people who would “ abeg I don bath in the morning watin i wash again, abeg I no get sopa to waste.”  Most importantly it’s advisable to teach children to always wash their hands after playing before eating.

3. Use Cold instead of Hot Water – For many homes with access to water heater, it is highly advisable to use cold rather than hot water especially homes with old plumbing system.

4. Buy LEAD Free-products – Many Nigerians for instance are found of buying old things, popularly known as second hand products. Try to avoid old or products that have no label to guide you on their uses.

5. Conduct regular Blood test – It is advisable to always have a regular blood test and check-up to ensure physical fitness and free from not just LEAD contamination, but any other possible disease.

CODE SUPPORTS HOUR WITH A BOOK AND OTHERS TO PROMOTE READING CULTURE IN NIGERIA

Hamzat Lawal May 18, 2016 0

CONNECTED DEVELOPMENT has supported HOUR WITH A BOOK, EDU-ROOM, AND ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN AUTHORS (ANA), AND NIGERIA YOUTH COALITION ON EDUCATION, as they took the lead in Nigeria by joining the rest of the international community to create the awareness by educating the general public the need to read and encourage writers.

According to Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive of CODE, “education is of the thematic areas that CODE has been committed to since its inception, our vision is to see an improved standard of education in Nigeria where all Nigerian youth will be able to acquire and access quality education, from elementary to tertiary level”.

The initiator of Hour with a Book, Babatunde Ismaila said we do this every year to commemorate World Book and Copyright Day”. He added that there is need to combat mass failure in examination, which has contributed to out of school children, touting and cultism etc. which  is as a result of lack of good learning environment, lack of technology skills to impact on the student. While addressing members He also emphasized the need for students to read hard in other to gain maximum understanding and curb the issue of mass failure in our education system in Nigeria.

He also used the medium to urge the federal government of Nigeria to intensify its effort for the rescue of Chibok school girls.

Ojonwa Deborah Miachi, Policy Advisor of CODE and Nigeria Youth Coalition on Education delegate, who in her short speech highlighted the need for Nigerian authors to write books that will interest the younger generations emphasizing the need to catch the interests of these children. She also spoke of the need for parents to lead by example by through commitment in reading books thereby building healthy reading culture because these children most times follow their footsteps.

HOUR WITH A BOOK is an initiative designed to advocate for good learning environment, Computer for all schools and also to set aside a day to encourage students and young pople to know the importance and benefits of setting aside an hour to read their books so as to have a better understanding of what they have been thought in school and also help them make research on educational books in other to build the needed confidence in them thereby curbing the rate of massive failure in examinations.

How CODE Grew to Become a Voice for Local Communities

codepress April 20, 2016 0

This post was written by Tyo Faeren Jennifer, a Mass Communication Student of the Benue State University, during her Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) with CODE  

Connected Development [CODE] a non-governmental organization [NGO], headquartered in Abuja and formed in 2010, has empowered 9 local communities in Africa through its Transparency and Accountability initiative. And has mobilized 30 million Nigerians and 1 million citizens in 7 other West African countries to take action around Environmental Sustainability in Nigeria.

Through its Follow The Money project that advocates, visualize and track funds meant for local communities, it has helped in providing water to the 15, 000 inhabitants in Kadandani, Kano; Bachaka, Kebbi; and Jeke in Jigawa by tracking and advocating for the 10 billion Naira meant for the Great Green Wall project [GGW].

Follow The Money came to limelight by providing access to healthcare for 1,500 lead poisoned children, and providing hostel for 440 pupils, and providing an overhead tank for 200 pupils in government school in Zamfara State, communities.

At one of its traditional stakeholders meeting on making sure water is provided in three villages – Kadandani, Jeke and Bachaka, the representative from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. S.M.Babarinde said, “Follow The Money is the most objective transparency and accountability initiative I have followed over 2 years now on radio, TV and their online platforms.”

The World Wide Fund [WWF] ‘s Earth Hour , now coordinated by Connected Development [CODE] and the Young Volunteers for Environment, since 2010 has united the people of Nigeria and other Seven countries in West Africa by mobilizing millions of individuals, organizations and government to take action for the environment.  

It’s OpenDataParty [ODP] makes and spread open data. The ODP is where participants from every part of the country come together to learn and share data skills. It’s ODP has taught 430 Nigerians with hands on workshops, which included-Data Analysis using Google Spreadsheet and Microsoft Excel; Data Scraping using Tabula and Import.io; Visualizing data using Maps with CartoDB and Open Street Maps; Visualizing data using Info.gram

“I have learnt where to get budget for environment especially ones related to my state, and how I can analyze it using Excel, I never knew this before coming” said Erdoo Anango of Kwasedoo Foundation International from Benue state.

It’s Sustainaware  project,  an initiative that aims to improve Youth Knowledge, Interest and Leadership on Environmental Health, Green Economy and Social-Environmental Entrepreneurship), initiated by CODE’s European partners in 2014 was  and supported by the European Union connects eight partner countries (Nigeria, U.S.A, India, Slovenia, Argentina, Hungary, Croatia, and Liechtenstein), and now added Zambia and Somalia, as implementing countries of Sustainaware in 2016

CODE seeks global partners committed to a sustainable future and to empowering marginalized communities to make a difference by creating the missing feedback loop between the government and the people by amplifying the voice of these lurked away. Of course, these feat would not have been achieved if not for support from Indigo Trust, Omidyar Network, Heinrich Boell Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation, Code For Africa, European Union and the thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook.

[PRESS RELEASE] CODE Launch Tracking Tool during First Stakeholders Roundtable on the Implementation of Great Green Wall to Foster Accountability

Hamzat Lawal March 24, 2016 0

The Follow The Money team intends to use the tool to inform policy decisions while capturing voices from the beneficiaries in rural communities in 11 northern states

[Abuja, 22 March 2016] – At the first ever stakeholders meeting on the implementation of the Great Green Wall project, CODE launched a geo-reference tracking system to foster the completion and sustainability of the Great Green Wall project in Nigeria.

Unveiling the tracking tool, CODEs M&E expert, Oludotun Babyemi expressed that the platform was a work in progress to be fully operational at the end of the month.

“The platform is real-time and accessible to everyone. It allows stakeholders to access information on the implementation of facilities for the Great Green Wall projects across the 11 frontier states” Babayemi stressed.

 Oludotun Babyemi unveils Great Green Wall TrackerCODE’s M&E Expert Oludotun Babyemi launches Great Green Wall Project Tracker

The discussion was strategized to share insights and proposed solutions around sustainability of the billion naira project which is aimed at combating desertification in Northern Nigeria as well as providing income for over 200 communities to be affected by it.

GGW 1Cross Section of attendants at CODE’s Stakeholders Roundtable on Great Green Wall Project

In his opening remark, Ahmed Goni, the Director General of the National Agency of the Great Green Wall emphasized working with NGOs and understanding the work of NGOs in nation building as he thanked the leadership of Connected Development.

“The Great Green Wall came as a result of African Union, who understand the dangers of desertification in the environment which is the most serious environmental impact affecting Africa”. He added that 11 African countries are involved which include Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sudan and Chad with a Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW) headquarters in Mauritania.

Bringing the policy back home, the DG said Nigeria initiated the program and had 11 frontline states involved– Kebbi, Zamfara, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa, Adamawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Borno, Sokoto and Kano. He noted these areas constitute about 43% of Nigeria’s land mass as these areas are also where most of Nigeria’s feed produce comes from. Adding that 43 million Nigerians are directly affected by the GGW.

Goni commented that his agency would provide solar-powered water sources at Bachaka, Jeke and Kadandani communities visited during community outreach activities carried out by the Follow The Money team, as it’s now on their workplan and activities for 2016.

Hamzat Lawal, The Chief Executive of CODE in his opening remark, appreciatedthe presence of the DG the National Agency of the Great Green Wall, noting the importance of the project because it affects up to 200 communities in Nigeria. He added that such initiatives exist to improve communities but how do MDAs access funds, use this funds how is the impact measured.

Presentations by the National Agency for Great Wall highlighted some achievements and activities of the agency from 2013 till date include the establishment of corridor mapping, promotion of alternative livelihoods and establishments of 138ha of vegetable gardens. In 2016, the agency proposes some activities such as establishment of 280km shelterbelts, establishment of 282ha community woodlot, establishment of 22 No. Artesian wells for 22 communities in the 11 frontier states and establishment of 312ha of community orchard. The agency also made note of some challenges affecting the proper implementation of the project which include vandalisation, insurgency and difficulty in accessing some states.

In Follow The Money presentation on findings on the ground visiting rural communities, Babayemi highlighted the community outreaches made by the team to communities in Kano, Kebbi and Jigawa states touching on successes and shortcomings so far of the Green Wall Agency in implementation of the project. Major challenges was access to water in the communities.

The representative of the Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier General A. A. Taiwo identified the importance of the Great Green Project in eradicating poverty and combating desertification and asked how the agency had been able to address the issue of insurgency in affected states.

A major highlight of the stakeholders’ roundtable was the unveiling of a Monitoring and Evaluation Platform developed by Follow The Money called the Great Green Wall Tracker [www.followthemoneyng.org/ggw] which is aimed at monitoring accountable flow of funds for the project while providing real-time information provided by Follow The Monet State reporters. Some categories are woodcots and boreholes provided in communities.

Mr. S.M. Babarinde, representing the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, commended the efforts of the Follow The Money team and expressed commitment of the ministry to using the tool for information sharing as well as inducting the tool into their subsequent work plans as it provides information on water access in rural communities.

Hamzat Lawal, while ending the event expressed excitement and the commitment of Follow The Money to ensuring that funds released were tracked in an accountable manner.

“In the following months, we will be taking our stakeholders and town hall meetings to Jigawa, Kano and Kebbi states to further engage the state governments and the locals directly affected by the implementation of the Great Green Wall project”. He further added that stakeholders present should take ownership of the tracking tool provided and asked that more debates be made on ensuring that the Ecological Fund Office releases 15% of it funds as stipulated to the Great Green Wall.

The implementation of the Great Green Wall project is essential to Nigeria’s commitment to combating desertification in the Sahel and Sahara region as the projects goes beyond reforestation, but providing lost biodiversity in the region and providing a means of economic livelihood for affected communities on the African continent

****** END******

[In Abuja – Nigeria, for Connected Development/Follow The Money, Oludotun Babayemi +234 09 291 7545 or/and oludotun@connecteddevelopment.org]

[In Abuja – Nigeria, for Connected Development/Follow The Money, Abdulmalik Fahd, +2349052546234 or/and abdulmalik@connecteddevelopment.org]

For more information about Follow The Money, please visit http://followthemoneyng.org

Editor’s Note:

Follow The Money is an initiative of Connected Development [CODE] that advocates, tracks, and visualize funds meant for local communities. The Team is made up of Researchers, Data Analysts, Activists, Campaigners, Journalists, Legal Practitioners, Activists, Information Managers, Students, and Academia & Development Consultants.

Connected Development [CODE] is a non-government organization whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. We strengthen local communities by creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building capacities of marginalized communities which ensure social and economic progress while promoting transparency and accountability.

From skylines to timelines, Earth Hour shines a light on climate action across West Africa

Hamzat Lawal March 17, 2016 1

[ABUJA, Nigeria] — Following a landmark year for climate, World Wide Fund’s [WWF]  Earth Hour coordinated by Connected Development [CODE] in Nigeria, and Young Volunteers for the Environment in collaboration with the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change in seven West African countries is calling on people around West Africa and the world to continue the charge and be a part of the global momentum to help change climate change. This follows the countdown to Earth Hour, a global yearly event celebrated on March 19, between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time.

2015 was the hottest year on record and it was also the year countries came together to work against climate change at the historic summit in Paris. With the world at a climate crossroads, Earth Hour 2016 is our time to shine a light on climate and environment action and build the foundation for a better future for our planet and future generations.

2016 marks the tenth lights out event since Earth Hour’s debut in Sydney, Australia in 2007. In the past nine years, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world have harnessed the power of the movement to raise support and funds for access to renewable energy, protection of wildlife and their habitats, building sustainable livelihoods and driving climate-friendly legislation and policy.

In Nigeria, Earth Hour 2016 will join to drive petition to save the last forest in Calabar, Cross River State, with the #CrossRiverSuperway hashtag while activists and businesses will come together in Lagos, Abuja, Cross River, Taraba and Benue States to learn and share how they create a low carbon economy with several of their initiatives. “Earth Hour serves a platform not just to raise awareness about environmental issues, the event also serves as a platform for entrepreneurs who are involved in activities that protect Earth to showcase their work and network as we engage people during the time frame of the event at night” said Oludotun Babayemi, the West Africa Regional Director for Earth Hour.

Babayemi also highlighted other West African countries joining the movement, “This year, we would have Nigér, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Bénin, Togo, Ghana and Gambia joining actions mobilizing millions of people across the continent to inspire actions and inform policy decisions as we collectively implement the outcomes of Paris COP21 and countries INDCs”.

“In 2016, Earth Hour will continue to power grassroots efforts to change climate change including driving a petition to Save the Ekuri Forest, protecting forests and biodiversity in the Sahel of Africa and helping devise a comprehensive solution to waste management persistent crisis by working with governments, businesses and civil society simultaneously on sustainable waste management” stressed Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive of Connected development, CODE.

In addition, as Nigeria’s most iconic landmarks – Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Le Meridien, Ogeyi Place, Port Harcourt, Kwararafa University, Wukari, Taraba and Pauline Makka Women Development Center, Makurdi, Benue, prepare to switch off their lights for Earth Hour; supporters are also invited to take a stand for climate action using Social media. Users of social media can donate their Facebook feeds to spread climate awareness and action in a few clicks on www.earthhour.org/climateaction. In addition, using custom-made Earth Hour filters to Facebook and Twitter profile pictures, users can show their friends and followers they care about the planet.

Ms Luttah Annette of JVE International remarked at the importance of the event and the involvement of youth in climate matters “This event is a trend setter that brings great awareness to communities and various stakeholders with a message that, it does not take much to contribute towards sustainable development. This is a wakeup call for all actors to join forces to make a significant impact towards reversing climate change and to improve the livelihoods of the poor in our communities” .

Earth Hour 2016 will be celebrated on Saturday, 19 March 2016 between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time. Log on to www.earthhour.org/nigeria  for more stories and articles on teams using the Earth Hour movement to shine a light on climate action. This is our time to change climate change.

Link to the official Earth Hour 2016 music video: http://ehour.me/EH2016-MusicVideo

Link to photos on Earth Hour activities in Nigeria:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitgwarinpa/albums

************************

For media inquiries or requests for press interviews, please contact: 

Abdulmalik, Abdulmalik  – Earth Hour Nigeria; abdulmalik@connecteddevelopment.org +234 09 291 7545

Attegoua Marcelline – JVE International Secretariat; secret.jve@gmail.com +228 22200112

About Earth Hour:

Earth Hour is WWF’s global environmental movement. Born in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring individuals, communities, businesses and organizations in over 170 countries and territories to take tangible climate action. Celebrating the tenth edition of its signature lights out event in March 2016, the Earth Hour movement continues to harness the power of its millions of supporters to shine a light on climate action and the power of the individual to change climate change.

About Connected Development [CODE]:

CODE is a non-government organization whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. We strengthen local communities by creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building capacities of marginalized communities which ensure social and economic progress while promoting transparency and accountability.

#NoToSocialMediaBill – A Public Hearing to throw out a Frivolous Petition Bill

Hamzat Lawal March 9, 2016 3

In a hall that could conveniently sit 250 persons, as at 15 minutes past 10 AM, the total number of people in the Senate Conference Hall, room 0.22 of the Nigerian National Assembly were 22 [not excluding caterers and housekeeping] – Oh! None of the “high-table” members were present either.

By the time the hearing oragnised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters commenced at 11:45 AM, the audience were no more than 70 thereabouts, mostly made up of news reporters, which is a shame really especially for civil society who champion their opinions and call for action using social media. The committee was chaired by Senator David Umaru

Let’s press the history tab, to acquaint ourselves with the Frivolous Petition Bill 2015 (SB. 143) –  before proceeding to the Public Hearing.

The bill, introduced by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, is officially called “An act to prohibit frivolous petitions; and other matters connected therewith,” and has been nicknamed “Social Media Bill” by concerned citizens. The bill requires any person submitting a petition to the government to have an accompanying affidavit. However, the bill goes much further as we see in Section 3(4):

“Where any person through text message, tweets, WhatsApp or through any social media post any abusive statement knowing same to be false with intent to set the public against any person and / or group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be liable to an imprisonment for 2 years or a fine of N2,000,000 or both such fine and imprisonment.”

The Senate Committee had in attendance Senator David Umaru, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Chukwuka Otazie, Senator Bababjide Omoworare, Senator James Manager, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Senator Joshua Lidani; on the other end, the audience was composed of delegates who had made submissions to the committee on the Bill, social media champions, members of civil society, law practioners, news agents, national assembly staff and concerned citizens.

However, the absence of some key MDAs such as the Public Complaints Commission [PCC], The Nigeria Police, State Security Service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC], Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission [ICPC], Voice Of Nigeria [VON], Nigerian Communication Commission [NCC], Nigerian Bar Association [NBA], Federal Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who will clearly be affected by the passage of the bill came as a huge surprise. It also begs the question, are these agencies working in the interest of the citizens or for a selected few?

In the course of the hearing, we were informed that the IG of police supported the bill.

In his opening statement, Senator Umaru cited Section 4(2) of the 1999 constitution, adding that the public hearing underscores the importance of the senate and citizenry in enriching legislative actions with the aim of ensuring peace of the Federation of Nigeria.

On behalf of the special guest of honour, Senate President Bukola Saraki who was absent due to other pressing matters, Senator Akpabio reiterated the intentions of the bill to make having an affidavit compulsory following claims made in the media space. He expressed concern on the anxiety of Nigerians over the bill and said that Legislature is here to defend the rights of Nigerians and not pass bills that will gag the media.

When Justice Clara Ogunbiyi of the Supreme Court made her presentation on behalf of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, it raised a lot of eyebrows! The CJN supported the bill! “This is because by the very use of the word frivolous, it connotes unseriousness, ill-motivation and suggestive of bad faith which is not within the contemplation of the constitutional provision of freedom of expression.” – Justice Mahmud Mohammed. Continuing, Justice Ogunbiyi went on to read out some recommendations of the CJN which included writing any petition as a formal complaint (idenetifying WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW), the use of personal home addresses and the inclusion of a time frame of 6 months for such complaints and grievances. On a side note, it is imperative to note how she kept hammering on the fact that about how peoples’ destiny and integrity had been affected by posts in the media sphere.

In a welcome contrast to the CJN, the Law Reform Council and Federal Ministry of Justice represented by Mr. P.C. Okorie and Mr. Francis Oyong respectively said the said the passage of the controversial bill will adversely affect media freedom and freedom of expression.

Mr Okorie noticed how “fluidly” the words petition, statement, complaints, inquiry and investigation are used, saying the bill was too open ended. He identified the other issues such as high illiteracy rate in Nigeria and the low number of high courts in localities as well as the current capacity of the judiciary.

“If such bill is passed, it would hamper internal investigations in MDAs” he said, noting that it would be impossible for staff to lodge complaints on issues in their offices, as the process would be more bureaucratic. Okorie added that if the senate saw a need to address excesses for petitions sent to law enforcement agencies, then the operating systems of the agencies should be reviewed, not necessarily proposing a bill.

Furthermore, addressing Section 3(3) of the Frivolous Bill, Okorie noted that various section in the Criminal Code [Section 60, 373] and the Penal Code [Section 391, 392] of the Nigerian Constitution had already covered the subject.

Mr. Francis Oyong representing the views of the Attorney General of Nigeria, Justice Abubakar Malami, said that laws are not made to be exclusive instead they are made in the interest of the citizens of a nation. Reading part of the AJNs submission to the committee, Oyong noted that Section 1 of the intended Frivolous Bill does not create a crime as there was no provision in the statement.

Mr. Oyong posed a critical question to the Senate committee on the issue of the affidavit – “Does an affidavit make a statement to be true?” As the general understanding of an affidavit, is that it’s a document made in the belief of the person swearing it. The proposed bill also violates the constitution & other treaties Nigeria is a signatory to.

The general consensus of both legal parties was that the passage of the bill will be an impediment to the current administration of President Buhari’s drive to expunge corruption as whistleblowing was integral and freedom of expression is key to democracy especially in Nigeria.

This bill seeks to threaten freedom of expression in a country said to practicing democracy – by the way, democracy is characterised by free speech and its objective to say that law as it is, where Divine or man-made, are subject to human interpretation]. Nigeria has 15 million Facebook users, the third most active African country on Twitter [2012] and over 97 million mobile internet subscriptions, a sizeable contribution to the technology sector. If passed as it is, the bill will only hamper further development of Nigeria’s internet and communication system.

Also, the feedback mechanism that is essential in communication would become non-existent as there would be an increase in lack of faith of law enforcement agencies in helping the populace. In a time where audiences are encouraged to send in eye-witness reports to news agencies, how would this law support information dissemination?

Senator Omo-Agege citied an instance of a false Avatar on Facebook posting that a candidate has withdrawn from election, on the eve on going to the polls and asked if the existing laws treat this?

It seems to be that certain individuals in the Nigerian society would rather not be talked about and so on, but with such ostentatious lifestyles in the midst of hunger and need in Nigeria, will questions and allegations not be raised?

A sentiment that was somewhat expressed once the floor was opened for civil society – the senate committee was barraged [well they had it coming *chuckles*]

Popular Twitter champion and Editor-In-Chief, 15 Past 8 Media Group @MrAyeDee identifies fragile egos and that the bill should be discarded ingloriously in the dustbin of history. He added that the dynamics of engagement on social media is quite different from physical human interaction, “People tend to gravitate towards known persons [people with identities] on social media and most times people do not the heed faceless”, adding that people could sue for libel and defamation as made available through the Nigerian constitution.

Gbenga Sesan @gbengasesan Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria did not mince words in expressing disappointment with the CJN and Supreme Court’s stance on the Frivolous Bill. He said the passage of the bill would be licence the death of whistleblowers in a country that hasn’t brought the killers of late Bola Ige, the Attorney General of the Federation since 2001! Sesan also called to note that anonymity cannot be removed from information sharing as its essential.

Yemi Adamolekun of Enough is Enough Nigeria addressed the erroneous impression that calling for Public Hearing is a favour to citizens, rather a responsibility of the Senate reacting to Senator Omoworare’s @jideomoworare comment that the Senate is not mandated to hold a public hearing. EiENigeria is currently running a campaign calling on Nigerians to add their voices and votes to stop the passage of the Frivolous Bill [You can get involved by calling 014408464]

Aisha Yesufu, @AishaYesufu who describes herself as an aggrieved mother of the kidnapped Chibok Girls’ who have been missing for over 600 days said if not for social media, where else would the agitation for the release of the girls come from? She identified some recent successes of social media #FreeEseOruru and #BringBackOurGirls. In buttressing Yemi’s point on the public hearing, Yesufu had these words: “As a citizen, I’m the highest office holder in the land & our senators are responsible to me.”

From the body language of the senators, it was obvious that they had a supportive stance on the bill even though both Senator Omo-Agege and Senator Lidani said that the public hearing is purposely for the collection of public opinion as Senator Omo-Agege said he was expecting comments on the issue of responsibility of persons on social media.

Only last month at the Social Media Week 2016 held in Lagos, the issue of the regulation of social media was brought up in a debate #BBCAfricaDebate [You can listen to the views here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03jxdyr]

We say #NoToSocialMediaBill as it’s not only freedom of expression and leadership that are on the line in Nigeria, but the very essence of democracy which social media has helped to shape. We will not be strangled of our oxygen!

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Funds: Where did all the money go?

Oludotun Babayemi March 3, 2016 0

After the 220 billion, there is the new 31.52 billion Naira for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise: Where did, and will the money go!

Adamu and Chukwuma have been a long term friend at the Abuja Park in Gusau, Zamfara, and each time I want to buy a recharge card from their kiosk, they ask if I know how their businesses can be funded by the government, and if also they could learn how to write business proposals, if eventually the funds are made available. My response many times has been that they should check the Nigeria SME toolkit, and that also they can visit the Zamfara Medium and Small Enterprise Agency, or the Zakat Board of the state, and ask if they could learn writing proposals with their agency.

 

While not sure if there is one, it is certain that the state receives and must have received some SME funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Yes! for some years now, funds meant for such programmes and intervention are being domiciled with the CBN, but unfortunately, it seem people like Adamu and Chukwuma will never have access to such funds or programmes, if the apex bank cannot justify or present impacts of “heavy funds” that have been allocated to micro, small and medium enterprise.

 

Nigeria, with an unemployment rate of 9.9% in Q3 2015 has a better unemployment rate than reported in 67 countries but worse than 113 countries, including 21 African countries with unemployment rates lower than 9.9% needs to employ innovative means of engaging MSMEs other than this “screaming headlines” kind of funding. The state governments are not even helping matters, as some of them had turn this funds into political campaign funds. Hold on – there is a new funding again for MSMEs called BIG (Business, Innovation and Growth), this time, it claims to be innovative, much more than the YOUWIN intervention

 

To so many Nigerians, it is not clear where they can access this funds, and when it becomes clear as well, the proper strategy is not used in mentoring young enterprises, and many times, potential enterprise are frustrated to start applying for jobs. Truth be told, the funds are out there for MSMES, and we really need to let potential entrepreneurs know, consequently, we are planning to visualise MSME Funds in Nigeria, and make people like Adamu and Chukwuma know where and how to get one.
If you have had access to an SME funds in Nigeria recently, what do you think about this controversies, and if you have gone through what Adamu and Chukwuma had experienced in the past trying to access MSME Funds, do let us know your thoughts

 

Join the Open Data Day Hackathon

Saturday 5th March at 9 am Abuja / 8 am London

We hope that a diverse group of you will join in the gathering of SME Funds data. During the Hackathon you will have plenty of chances to discuss all questions regarding MSME funds failures whether they be specific cases. Do not let your state or region leave a blank spot when we draw up the map of MSME Funds.

At the data party we will go through some of these questions:

  • What kind of MSME funds do we wish to collect (date, amount, description of intervention, location etc.)?
  • What are the possible sources (press, CBN, Bilateral Agencies, Multilateral Agencies)?
  • Getting started with the data collection for the MSME Funds Tracker

 You can join the Data party by adding your name and skype ID here.

Reflections on World Book Day

Hamzat Lawal March 3, 2016 0

As you are quite aware, we are interested in government spending for education in Nigeria for local communities as education is key achieving development for any nation. For us the World Book Day celebrated on March 3 every year [it’s presently 19 years old] presents a unique opportunity to look beyond books and delve into education in Nigeria.

Regardless of structure, i.e. formal or informal, education can have a large impact on the social, political and economic spheres of life of citizens of a country.

In Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (FRN 1998), it is stated that the Federal Government has adopted education as an instrument for effecting National Development in all areas of the nation. In Nigeria’s philosophy of Education, we believe that:-

  1. Education is an instrument for national development, and the interaction of persons and ideas are all aspects of education;
  2. Education fosters the worth development of the individual, for each individual’s sake, and for general development of the society;
  3. The training of the mind in the understanding of the world around; and
  4. The acquisition of appropriate skills and competencies as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute to the development of the society.

With disparate figures on the number of Nigerians who are illiterate [In 2010, UNESCO put the number of illiterate youth at 8.6million, this is aside adults] it is imperative that we reflect on the poor reading culture of the youth and education in rural Nigeria.

When last did you enjoy a book? I’m not talking reports, figures or articles, I mean a book, with a preface, forward and all the prefixes that characterise a book. Did you muse on the characters; did you escape for a while and connect with the essence of the story? Oh books! Technology has made reading easier [we now have e-books, downloadable content we can carry on-the-go, and so on].

Just a few days ago, the chairman senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Binta Garba, shared that $2bn is spent by the elite yearly on foreign education. She described the trend as embarrassing but noted it could be curbed if stakeholders work at strengthening the weak educational structures in the country [Weak education structure costs Nigeria $2bn annually –NASS] Is it really a shocking figure; education is expensive regardless of whether home or abroad. Families run into debt trying to put their children through school; young people take up menial jobs to make ends meet as well – all of which are a result of Nigeria’s economic standing.

Policies upon policies have been introduced to supposedly put Nigeria on the right track to educating its citizens but so far, no translated improvements have been noted.

In January 2016, the governor of Kaduna State introduced the school feeding program in his state [El Rufai to provide one meal per day to 1.5m pupils in Kaduna] as an incentive promote education and nutrition.

Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, the vice president of Nigeria announced “Teach Nigeria”, an initiative to employ 500,000 Nigerians as teachers as part of the social programs planned by President Buhari’s administration which as a planned policy sounds good but what is the capacity of the intended teachers? Are the educational infrastructure in Nigeria good enough to support such a cause?

World read aloud day

CODE at World Read Aloud Day

In line with SDG Goal 4 [Quality Education] which is aimed at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, CODE partnered with fellow CSOs in February for the World Read Aloud Day. We encouraged children to explore the exciting world of books and discussed with teachers challenges facing education and the diminishing reading culture. 

It is key to note that despite poor education in rural Nigeria, most of the resources used for enriching the economy of the nation stems from such areas. As insurgency has left areas in North-East Nigeria vulnerable, we also have to look at new situations such as “safe education”.

Sigh! Anyways back to books. Growing up many Nigerians picked up reading in secondary school where books such as “The Passport of Mallam Iliya” by Cyprian Ekwensi, “Without A Silver Spoon”by Eddie Iroh, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, “The Wives’ Revolt” by J P Clark, the list is endless!

Let’s celebrate the authors, illustrators, books and reading.

You could share with us your favourite books as well and remember to instil a love of book in young people wherever you are.

Happy World Book Day.

Mandela

CODE receives grant from The Indigo Trust

Hamzat Lawal February 29, 2016 0

The following blog post is reproduced from the Indigo Trust website. The original post can be found here 👇👇👇
[LINK] http://goo.gl/Bi49A5

Visitors to the Indigo site may already be familiar with the work of CODE in Nigeria (formerly Follow the Money). CODE, which uses data, social media and offline campaigning to press for more accountable and effective government, has previously received funding from us and has grown from a small start-up organisation into a much more ambitious and financially sound organisation over the last couple of years. It’s for that reason that we have awarded them with a grant of £37,492 towards core costs, including salaries and rent. We recognise the importance of supporting organisations’ core costs, realising that to do so frees them up from the day-to-day problems of covering next month’s rent and instead lets them focus on their programmes and just getting on with things.