CITIZENS’ APATHY AND THE NEED TO REBUILD TRUST, CODE SEEKS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Lack of transparency, poor social accountability, information gap, weak social contracts; illiteracy; citizenry apathy and distrust in government, are entrenched governance challenges in Nigeria
Connected Development (CODE) seeks to address these misnomers by amplifying voices of marginalised grassroots communities that are often denied access to basic human needs despite that funds are allocated for the implementation of development projects in these regions.
CODE is bridging the information gap between citizens and the government, tackling financial leakages and bringing governance closer to the people at the grassroots. We do this by empowering citizens with the knowledge, skills and capacity to demand for the provision of quality public services in their communities.
Consequently, essential development projects, previously abandoned or which otherwise would not have been implemented, are being restarted and completed, accelerating social development in these regions, fighting inequality and promoting inclusive development.
Understanding that citizens apathy was increasing and government continued to fall short of expectations, CODE’s overall 2019 objective was to make a significant difference in increasing citizens and government’s consciousness towards rebuilding trust.
Our 2019 campaigns enabled platforms for informed debate between public institutions and citizens and also advocated for more government agencies to leverage digital communications to foster trust, increase transparency and ensure better accountability.
Over the past seven years, CODE has showcased consistency and doggedness in amplifying the voices of the marginalized. In 2019 specifically, our team deployed innovative strategies and global best practices in empowering citizens, especially the grassroots dwellers to demand for improved services in healthcare, water, education and development infrastructures. On the other hand, we petitioned government to provide these services so that citizens faith in governance can be regained. Our advocacy influenced government policies for the acceleration of socio-economic development.
CODE tracked NGN 1,277,500,000 (USD 3.5 million) budgeted for projects in 69 grassroots communities—calling for improved first-mile health infrastructure and services, demanding that a state of emergency be declared on education because of the alarming increase in the number of out-of-school children and campaigning for communities to access safe clean water, we impacted over 2 million lives.
We further saved the Nigerian people and the government the sum of N477 million by blocking financial leakages in funded rural community projects. Our work gained global recognition when Follow The Money emerged winner of the 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Mobilizer Award and also won the Council of Europe’s Democracy Innovation Award as the initiative advancing the cause of democracy.
CODE further petitioned anti-graft agencies to investigate oil industries that abuse human rights, partake in illicit financial flows and exploit the fragility of oil producing communities in Nigeria. Our team further engaged policy makers, stakeholders and beneficiaries, on effecting policies that promote gender inclusion in Community Development Councils.
Key reoccurring challenges that our team continue to face are; threats for exposing misappropriation of funds, poor access to data to enable tracking of government funds, security issues in North-East of Nigeria, and limited funds in reaching more grassroots communities.
We, however remain dogged in promoting a sustainable FTM model to ensure that true democracy is achieved—where citizens are empowered in every sense and their collective voices are heard. In hindsight, it can be said that CODE experienced yet another year of growth and influence.
With incredible support from the CODE team, our State champions, our partners and donors, we will continue to innovate better ways to hold government accountable and advocate best policies in favour of marginalised communities. With each effort, we get closer to our goal of empowering Africa, one community at a time.
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