By Joan Ayuba
Representing the Chief Executive of Connected Development (CODE) – Hamzat Lawal – at a recent event in Lagos tops the list of pleasant adventures I have embarked on since I transitioned into practicing development communications and started working with CODE.
My immediate thought was to ask colleagues for tips that would help me carry out the assignment I had been trusted with. I also knew that fitting into the CEOs shoes would require some padding, so I did the necessary research.
My flight from Abuja was delayed, so I arrived in Lagos in a panic, recalling people’s stories of missing events due to Lagos traffic. Lagos isn’t the best place to be, especially for someone used to the serenity of Abuja, but we stayed in one of the best hotels on the island, so it was well worth it.
On the day of the event, Partnership to Engage, Reform, and Learn (PERL) hosted a new media actors’ brainstorming session on governance, with a focus on pushing for local government autonomy, and many key actors across various sectors gathered to interact. From actors to civil society leaders, government officials, and so on.
I was initially intimidated by the speakers when the brainstorming session began and had internal debates about what my boss would have said in that situation. When a question about how to get Gen Z involved in governance was posed, I mustered the courage to speak up. That struck a chord, and when I asked for the microphone, the words flowed like a spring. It was fascinating to speak about what Connected Development is doing in various sectors as a new media actor. I managed to paint a clear picture of how CODE, through the leadership of Hamzat Lawal, was at the forefront of youth mobilization and by the time I was done talking, almost everyone wanted to know more.
People approached me to inquire about CODE, and in the process, we instantly secured a media collaboration, which you will hear about soon.
By the end of the session, I knew CODE was the place for me.
Some of the lessons from the session were that fighting corruption will be futile if the political process is plagued by fraud and corruption. As a result, there is a need to take advocacy to the State House of Assembly and persuade them to allow grassroots participation in the democratic process; alternatively, the masses could simply use already existing platforms. To be honest I felt proud because CODE was already doing most of the things they were talking about with Follow the Money and Open Parly and my thought was how to get citizens to take ownership of the call for accountability and in a way get the attention of relevant authorities.
People must be able to persuade the government to respond to their needs, but they must also understand their responsibilities as citizens, the division of powers within other branches of government, and who to hold accountable.
My big break was the opportunity. Prior to this, I had never worked in an environment that provided so many opportunities to anyone.
The room at CODE is large enough to hold everyone, and there is a seat for everyone, but to whom much is given?… Did I mention how Coworkers are always willing to jump in and lend a helping hand?
For the time being, I’m still trying to find my place. I’m also attempting to get inside everyone’s heads. I am a slow starter, and it usually takes me a while to adjust, but I no longer feel like a newbie. This ship has sailed, and I will keep you updated as I progress.