Communications April 2, 2024 0

By Ifunanya Okeke

As I reach my one-year milestone at Connected Development (CODE), I cast my mind back to that special day when I first joined the team. I remember waking up that morning with a mix of happiness, nervousness, and a strong sense of determination to give my all. When I received the email congratulating me on getting the job a week earlier, I was overwhelmed with shock as I couldn’t believe I got the job.

I stepped into the office on that Monday morning, March 6th, 2023, trying to hide my nervousness by constantly adjusting the corporate black-flowered dress that I had finally settled for the previous night, as per the lawyer that I am. I looked around and noticed that others weren’t as formal as I was. They looked smart but relaxed, which made me feel more at ease. It was nice to see that the environment was friendly and welcoming.

We had a Teams Meeting that morning –  as is the culture – and the energy was something else. I was introduced to the team.

Ever pictured an environment that brings your ideas to life? Or a group of youthful enthusiastic and vibrant individuals that bring to life all your imaginations? Or a small community of diverse tongues (what many would call the WAZOBIA community), yet connected in one spirit towards a common goal? Ever imagined change-makers, creators of societies that to some might just be a mirage? If you connect with any of these questions, then welcome to Connected Development (CODE).

The moment I settled in, work kicked off swiftly. I was handed numerous tasks with tight deadlines; there was no time to spare! I was then entrusted with the role of Project Manager for an 8-month project; Open Parly Nigeria. Initially, doubts crept into my mind about my ability to excel in this position, but I drew strength from my foundation in human rights, gender, children, and access to justice, having traversed the development sector before joining the esteemed team at Connected Development (CODE). I embraced the opportunity and was eager to learn from anyone who could contribute to ensuring the project’s success. 

The Open Parly Nigeria project aimed to bridge the gap between government and citizens by enhancing awareness of the legislative process in three states (Kwara, Oyo, and Yobe). Through interactive platforms, we endeavored to demystify legislative processes and empower communities to hold their elected representatives accountable. Witnessing the project’s impact on deepening citizens’ engagement in democracy has been immensely rewarding and fulfilling.

Co-managing the Digital Mobilization Lab has also been a highlight of my journey at CODE. This initiative harnesses the energy and passion of young leaders from diverse regions of Nigeria, equipping them with the tools and knowledge to drive positive change in their communities. Through comprehensive training on governance fundamentals and digital advocacy tools, participants have emerged as champions for social change, leading campaigns that amplify citizen voices and garner public support.

Over the past twelve months, I’ve been privileged to contribute my part to the progress of several transformative projects aimed at empowering marginalised communities and fostering accountability in governance across Africa. From drafting Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and Freedom of Information letters to crafting position papers, proposals, concept notes, attending meetings, and travelling to implement projects in different states, the achievements recorded so far from these projects give me satisfaction and tell me I’m in the right place.

Looking ahead, I’m excited about the opportunities that await and committed to continuing the vital work of empowering marginalised communities and fostering accountability in governance. As I embark on the next chapter of my journey at CODE, I extend my deepest gratitude to the organisation for the invaluable exposure, experiences, and lessons learned during my first year. Together, we form a family where the true spirit of teamwork thrives. Moving forward, we will continue striving towards a future where every voice is heard, and every community is empowered to shape its destiny.


Empowering Delta State: Unlocking the Potential of the FOI Act

Communications February 8, 2024 0

Have you ever been so excited about an opportunity that you could hardly contain your enthusiasm? That’s precisely how I felt when I was given the chance to coordinate the Freedom of Information (FOI) Workshop in Delta State. 

Not only was it my first visit to Delta State,  it was going to be my first time discussing and raising awareness about the FOI law, which had been adopted in the state. As a Delta state indigene, I was more excited to embrace this new challenge and fully prepared to tackle anything that came my way. 

I am sure you’re wondering what an FOI Act is. It is a law that grants citizens the legal right to request and access information held by public authorities. The Act is designed to promote transparency and accountability in government activities, allowing citizens to obtain information about government operations and policies, thereby holding the government accountable. This Act is an essential tool for enhancing democracy in Nigeria.   

The workshop had six commissioners from various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in attendance, along with representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the media. 

I was honored to take on the role of coordinating the event and leading a session on the Power of Voice Partnership (PVP) project. During my session, I provided an overview of the work we had accomplished over the past two years, including our involvement with integrity clubs, the Host Community Development Trust Fund, and advocacy efforts related to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA). These projects are also focused on advocating for the adoption of the FOI Act. One of the most eye-opening aspects of the workshop was the revelation that a staggering 99.8% of the participants had little to no knowledge about the FOI Act! 

This highlighted the urgent need for advocacy and education about the Act in Delta State. I urged participants to take the knowledge they gained from the workshop and spread awareness about the FOI Act, alongside its significance. A highlight of the event was the Head of FOI from the Ministry of Justice in Abuja, Godwin Garuba, conducting the session on “Unlocking the Power of the Freedom of Information Act: Understanding its Significance and Enhancing Government Responsiveness.” 

From this session, I gained several key takeaways: 

1. The FOI Act allows illiterate or disabled individuals to apply for information through a third party if they are unable to make a personal application. 

2. Applicants are not required to demonstrate a specific interest in the requested information but must prove their Nigerian citizenship, age of 18 or above, and tax compliance for the past three years. 

3. Public institutions must organize and manage information in a way that facilitates public access. 

4. If access to information is denied, the applicant has the right to challenge the decision and have it reviewed by a court, with specific grounds for refusal provided by the institution. 

5. Public institutions have 90 working days to respond to FOI requests, with the option to extend this period for an additional 90 days if necessary. 

6. FOI requests should be addressed officially to the Ministry, distinguishing them from general correspondence. 

Kingsley Agu, the Community Engagement Director of CODE, provided a detailed breakdown of how to write a FOIA letter, ensuring that all participants left the workshop well-informed about the FOI Act, and equipped to write their own FOI requests.

The workshop in Delta State was a remarkable experience for me. Participants left with a better understanding of the FOI Act, ready to use this knowledge to promote transparency and accountability in our great state. This event marked a significant step towards a more informed and engaged Delta State, embracing the power of the Freedom of Information Act to drive positive change in their communities.


Praise Azeh January 16, 2024 0

Praise Azeh

“I now pronounce you…”

Hold on.

This isn’t a love story.

Well, maybe some sort of love story, but definitely not between a woman and I.

Let’s go back to the top. 

“I now pronounce you…a CODE staff”


I officially started my journey as a CODEr (term for CODE staff) in November 2023.

As usual, I got in and had to carefully watch my surroundings as I was in a new environment.

The first thing I noticed was the warm ambiance of staff; everyone was very friendly and welcoming. 

I had thought it was the usual newbie welcome where everyone just gave a smile as required. However, so many weeks later, that warmth hasn’t reduced. 

Could I be more grateful?

Thus, getting settled in wasn’t hard for me. I easily found my spot and got right to it.

Then, it happened!

My boss walked in on my first day (Tuesday) and said the words that hit me hard at first, but later led me into one of the best first experiences I’ve ever had on a job.

“Are you the new Comms guy?”, he asked with a smile that so quickly switched into a straight face.

“Yes, Sir”, I responded

“Get ready, you’re going with us on Thursday to Kogi state, for the elections monitoring. I want to see what you can do with us on the field.”

I went blank.

Was he serious? Was he joking? My first day at the office and I am being told to prepare for a journey!

A lot of thoughts ran through my mind, but I later decided to go on the trip (though it was later made optional). It ended up being a great decision as I got valuable professional and personal experience that I’m still running with, months after.

Why were we going to observe elections?

CODE is an accredited Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) observer, ensuring free and fair elections through systematic observation. Our reports contribute to transparency, accountability, and the credibility of the democratic process in Nigeria. Leveraging on our election intelligence tool – UZABE, we have actively engaged in monitoring elections both internationally- in the US, Kenya, and Liberia, and nationally, including the recently concluded 2023 Nigerian general and off-cycle elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states. 

Amazing, isn’t it?

We got to Lokoja just after noon and got straight to work.

Our first stop was the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lokoja, to crosscheck sensitive and non-sensitive election materials. Then, we went straight to the hotel and set up our Situation Room.

The Situation Room is where we track electoral happenings, get first-hand news, verify, and post. The hub in Lokoja covered for the three states: Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa.

I was taught how the UZABE platform worked, and on the D-day, we got right into it. 

It was a tasking and yet, beautiful experience.

We had to keep tabs on and upload information being sent by our over 80 observers across all the polling units in the three states. Most importantly, we had to verify them, as we are known for pushing out only verified information.

I had to develop press statements for the various press releases we had and then co-coordinate the media briefing, where I was introduced as the new Media Officer for CODE.

It was an amazing experience!

Thankfully, it was a peaceful election and we set off back to Abuja on Sunday.

I left Lokoja fulfilled.


I had contributed my part in enlightening citizens and contributing to a free and fair election.  This was the first time I was involved in an election (aside from just voting) and played a significant part in its proceedings.

I’m happy with the work we do at CODE and I’m ever grateful to have joined this family.

Did I also mention that the journey was very comfortable and ‘food-filled’?

Yes! CODE takes very good care of CODErs.

I look forward to more experience-filled and impactful trips.

Till the next…

State of Basic Education in North-East Nigeria

Communications January 14, 2024 0

Nigeria currently has 18.5 million out-of-school children, the highest in the world. Most of these children between the ages of 5-14 are found in the northern region, especially the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa where insurgency and counter-insurgency operations have exacerbated other pre-existing economic and socio-cultural factors that hinder children’s education. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic when schools were completely shut down (as part of the government’s preventive measures), only 61% of 6–11 year-olds regularly attend primary school. During the six-month COVID19 lockdown, 4.2 million most vulnerable students in these states were further negatively impacted by the suspension of learning activities. READ FULL REPORT

My Success Story at CODE

Communications January 12, 2024 0

Chinedu Emmanuel Odah

To me, Connected Development (CODE) is more than just a workplace; it is a multifaceted community that fosters personal growth, staff capacity building, and prioritizes employee wellness. In this success story, I will share my transformative journey from an office chauffeur to a finance staff member at CODE, highlighting the support from the team, the opportunities I had, and the nurturing environment that enabled my professional evolution.

From the moment I joined CODE, I was met with a unique atmosphere of camaraderie and empowerment. The organization’s commitment to staff welfare and growth was evident in various ways, especially the regular team-building activities that encouraged personal and professional development.

I am an accounting graduate with much passion for my profession, however, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to practice in the field before joining CODE. I joined CODE on 31st May 2023, as a Chauffeur/ Logistics Officer while still having my ambition in mind.  I soon learned that CODE embraced an inclusive culture where employees were encouraged to pursue their dreams, regardless of their starting roles. This realization inspired me to embark on a journey of self-improvement and career transition.

With the encouragement of my colleagues, I took advantage of the numerous staff capacity-building opportunities provided by CODE, which equipped me with the skills necessary to start and thrive in a finance role. As I embarked on this transition, I found invaluable support through mentorship at CODE. The organization’s commitment to nurturing talent meant that experienced professionals were readily available to guide me as I worked.

One of the exceptional aspects of CODE is its commitment to internal mobility and growth. As I made this resolve to grow, CODE recognized my dedication, work ethic, and the potential I exhibited, and I was offered the chance to serve in the Finance department from November 2023. Transitioning into a finance role presented new challenges because I  was a fresher in the field ( I had the educational qualifications but lacked the work exposure and experience). However, the team was more than happy to train me from scratch. Looking back, I can confidently say that  CODERS leave no one behind, regardless of culture, tribe or religion. The harmony in our diversity drives the heart of the organization.  Thus, I fully embraced my responsibilities, demonstrating meticulous attention to detail, accuracy, and a strong work ethic, while continuously refining my skills, and leveraging the resources available within the organization to excel in my new position.

To say the least, CODE’s commitment to staff wellness and capacity building has created an environment where growth is not limited to a single achievement. I remain committed to ensuring  I remain at the forefront of organization trends and best practices.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunities and experiences that have shaped my success story at CODE. This has truly forged a new path for me in 2024, a path of responsibility, professionalism and value for money.

Thank you for reading

Chinedu Emmanuel Odah

Outcome Assessment and Impact Report Analysis

Communications November 10, 2023 0

The challenges associated with infrastructure deficits in oil-producing communities can be linked to a general problem of communities in Nigeria holding leaders accountable and demanding transparency from the implementing agencies of education, health, and WASH in already budgeted social infrastructure projects. It is therefore ironic that these communities, which contribute significantly to Nigeria’s revenue, still lack basic infrastructure while existing ones deteriorate further.


Nigeria Decides: 2023 Citizen-Led Election Report

Communications August 17, 2023 0

The deployment of UZABE in this election cycle aligns with CODE’s objective to increase and share innovative approaches to information exchange through experimentation, research, and technology. Also, as an accredited INEC elections observer, CODE collaborated with other CSOs to actively participate in the 2023 election observation process, while training and deploying over 20,000 volunteer polling station observers. CODE’s Situation Room received and subjected incident reports to a multi-level verification system to provide 12,889 authenticated and verified reports across the 2023 election cycle, which provided a picture of Nigeria’s 2023 electoral process READ MORE

Connected Development Commends Kano State House of Assembly on the Passage of Child Protection Bill

Communications May 25, 2023 0

Connected Development commends the Kano State House of Assembly on the successful passage of the Child Protection Bill. This achievement is a result of the sustained advocacy campaign by the, “Galvanizing Mass Action against Gender-based violence in Kano State” – GMAA-K project with support from the Canadian High Commission  and in partnership with BridgeConnect Africa Initiative.

The Child Protection Bill is a crucial piece of legislation that will help to protect the most vulnerable members of society-our children, from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation. The bill, when signed into law, will provide a legal framework for the prevention and management of child abuse cases in Kano State.

We appreciate the Kano State House of Assembly for their dedication and commitment to the wellbeing of children in the state, and for keeping their promise to pass the bill. This is a significant achievement that will serve as a milestone in the fight against child abuse in Kano State.

We urge the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, to expedite the signing of the bill into law before leaving office. We also call on the Kano State Government to take further action to ensure effective implementation of the Child Protection Bill.

As an organisation committed to protecting the rights of children and promoting their wellbeing, we will continue to work with the Kano State Government and other stakeholders to ensure that children in Kano State are protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

We thank the Canadian High Commission for their unwavering support towards the passage of the Child Protection Bill in Kano State.

Advancing Climate Justice through Community Engagement and Collaboration: The Significance of Earth Day and the SDGs

Every year on April 22nd, Earth Day is observed worldwide to promote environmental awareness and inspire individuals to actively safeguard our planet. This year, we actively engaged in this global event, amplifying the message of preserving Earth and its invaluable resources. With the theme of “investing in our planet,” the focus was on acknowledging the significance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we near the year 2030. Understanding the criticality of achieving these goals is paramount in securing a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.

SDG goal 13

The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. There are 17 SDGs, covering a wide range of issues, including climate change, sustainable cities, responsible consumption and production, and gender equality. 

Goal 13 of the SDGs addresses explicitly climate action and recognizes the urgent need to take action to combat climate change and its impacts. Key targets of SDG 13 include Strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters, improving education, raising awareness, human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning; implementing the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible, Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in the least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women and youth. 

Despite all these strategies in place, headway towards achieving the SDGs has been slow, and the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters. The pandemic highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of environmental issues, some of which are deforestation, air pollution, and climate change, to prevent future pandemics and protect human health. The climate crisis is one of the most significant threats facing our planet, and it’s critical that we take urgent action to address it. 

The impact of the 2022 flooding in Ihuike Ahoada East LGA in Rivers State 

Nigeria’s significant impact of climate change. 

Nigeria, just like most developing countries, has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to developed countries but has still been impacted significantly by climate change. This has made the country more susceptible to extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and storms, which have caused significant damage to infrastructure, property, and livelihoods.  The impacts of climate change on Nigeria’s agriculture sector have had a significant impact on food security and nutrition, with millions of people facing food insecurity as a result of reduced crop yields and rising food prices.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the 2012 floods in Nigeria affected over 7 million people across 30 states, resulting in the loss of over 300 lives and causing an estimated $16 billion in damages. In 2018, flooding in Nigeria affected over 2 million people across 12 states, resulting in the loss of over 200 lives and causing significant damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Similarly, In September 2020, heavy rainfall led to severe flooding in several parts of Nigeria, affecting over 140,000 people and causing an estimated $200 million in damages.

The most recent flood in Nigeria occurred in September 2021. According to the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), at least 70 people were killed, and over 100,000 were displaced by the flooding that affected 17 out of the country’s 36 states. The flooding was attributed to heavy rainfall, which caused the overflow of rivers and dams. Several houses, farmlands, and infrastructure, including roads and bridges, were also destroyed.

The impact of the 2022 flooding in Ihuike Ahoada East LGA in Rivers State 

How we are challenging the existing state of affairs.

Connected Development (CODE) with support from OXFAM recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and is taking action to improve public opinion, awareness, and understanding of frontline solutions. Our campaign across Rivers and Akwa Ibom states is a significant step towards achieving the SDGs and raising awareness about environmental issues in Nigeria. The campaign aims to empower local communities to take action and make a positive impact on the environment. 

We aim to see Governments, companies, and other power brokers recognise the value of frontline narratives and implement policies and practices that respect and protect the rights of frontline communities and contribute to climate justice.

As an organization, we recognize the need to raise awareness about the devastating effects of flooding and spur reactions and urgent actions from relevant actors, especially the sub-national government. We shot a documentary that amplifies the adverse effects and impacts of flooding across our frontline communities across Rivers and Akwa Ibom State.  It was indeed a sight visiting the internally displaced camp where women, men and children were left with little or nothing from the catastrophic impacts of the flood. Pregnant women, elderly women, and sick men were all left to carter for themselves and their families in a dilapidated building with an unpleasant WASH facility.  As we interviewed these groups of people, I could barely hold a tear. I was glum and devastated.  Click here to watch the documentary.

We will continue challenging the existing state of affairs through partnerships with community-based Organizations and Media to ensure that everyone has a voice in the fight against climate change. By working together, we can make a significant impact on the environment and achieve the SDGs before 2030.