Prior to joining Follow The Money, my notion of Non-Governmental Organisation was a bit different. Although, I had always been interested in humanitarian work, I could not access the right platform to build my skills. In 2017, when I got the chance to work for Connected Development (CODE), I hit the ground running. My first task was to track Universal Basic Education Intervention Funds in Kaduna State across four Local Government Areas (LGA)— Kudan, Kajuru, Zangon Kataf and Jema’a. It was a huge task at the time and I was completely overwhelmed. We vigorously campaigned for change in the Education system in Kaduna state where 1 billion naira Universal Basic Education (UBEC) funds was earmarked for the construction and reconstruction of facilities in 23 basic schools across the four LGAs. We inaugurated a committee called School Monitoring Team (SMT) which comprises of School Based Monitoring Committee, National Union of Teachers, Parents Teachers Association and over 200 community members to foster ownership of Monitory and Evaluation of government projects in their communities.
This task challenged but strengthened my ability and with tremendous technical assistance from my superiors, we were able to achieve remarkable results. Tracking UBEC Funds in Kano has now become a model adopted for tracking education funds all across Nigeria.
Through media sensitization, we were able to reach 1.4 million people with our advocacy message and 20 communities directly benefited from our campaign. Using advocacy tools like our Follow The Money radio programme, we sensitized more people and enhanced citizen’s participation in governance. Some of the visible results is the recruitment of over 30 volunteers in Kaduna, who showed interest in learning the FTM model and are presently tracking government spending in their communities.
Because Follow The Money is driven by its mission to empower marginalized communities, we are always intentional in our approach to track government spending and ensure project implementations at the grassroots level. For instance, In Likoro, a community in Kudan LGA, after community dwellers noticed funds had been allocated to construct a new fence, contractors had not begun work. FTM Team, working with the community, wrote petitions to anti-corruption agencies independently. This move sparked a reaction from the contractors who were awarded the project and they began implementation.
Similarly, In Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA), we started a campaign, #RebuildKufana, about the school with dilapidated structures in Kufana community. Children could not go to school because of the deplorable state of the school building. FTM trained Kafuna community members on how to monitor, evaluate and hold their elected representatives accountable. They also learnt how to check for quality control, as such when they noticed irregularities in the specification of materials, they stopped the contractors from continuing substandard work. The school community organized town hall meetings, inviting relevant stakeholders, and demanding for the Bill of Quantities for the project. The local government provided them with detailed information about the project and ensured contractors followed due process.
The impact of our activities made Kaduna State Basic Education Board to involve representatives of all School communities in contracting process for the 2017 action plan, in line with Open Government Partnership that Kaduna State signed up.