Why we are Celebrating Five years of Existence: The Now and The Future!

Oludotun Babayemi August 31, 2017 0

157, 822 citizens in five years! That is the number of people that have been impacted by the 1,234 members of the Follow The Money network of Connected Development [CODE], tracking government spending on health facilities, teaching aid, and water supply in rural communities. Much reason why these community champions were celebrated on August 15, 2017, marking five years of CODE existence, at the Silverbird Cinemas, Central Area of Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory. For the future, CODE launched the web and mobile platform – http://ifollowthemoney.org a citizen participation platform, meant for knowledge exchange, knowledge sharing, and community mobilization.

“Great ideas will not come from the present organization you are working; it comes from interaction with other people, in conferences, networking gatherings, in some locations – like Yahuza Suya ( a famous meat shop in Wuse, Abuja), and Ceddi Plaza (a shopping mall in the heart of Abuja), which was where the conversation on starting this movement – Connected Development started” explained Oludotun Babayemi, the Co-Founder of CODE, in his welcome address.

                            A cross-section of participants at the CODE at 5 event

In Nigeria, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) investment and technology office in the country, 2 out of 10 start-ups manage to survive, not to talk of this feat the organization has been able to achieve in few years. Mr Ben Ubiri, popularly known as Ben200, an on – air – personality with Nigeria Info FM Abuja, introduced as one of the community champions was the host. He reiterated these statistics all through the 2 – hour event that comprised film screening of past campaigns – A video shut by Deutsche Welle on the Lead Poisoning in Shikira, and the launch of the future – an animated video in different local languages of why and how citizens can join the movement.

The high point of the night was the key note speech by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) who reiterated the fact that citizens need to mobilize themselves on legitimate platforms like that of CODE which had to remain apolitical. “Even in trying times like this in our nation, we still see some young and energetic men, mobilizing and organizing less privileged communities to speak truth to power,” he said.He acknowledged the fact that corruption has eaten into the fabrics of the country, and that mass orientation by pressure groups like CODE will be worthwhile.

A cross-section of panellists at the CODE at 5 event

The keynote speech was followed by a panel comprising of social accountability advocates in the country – Oluseun Onigbinde, Lead Partner at BudgIT; Gift Omodedia, Senior Programmes Manager at Public and Private Development Center; Serah Maka, Nigeria Country Director at ONE. Others on the panel were Esther Agbarakwe, Adviser on Strategic Communication at the Federal Ministry of Environment; and Semiye Michael, the founder of DEAN Initiative while the panel was moderated by the popular online blogger – Japheth Omojuwa. The discussion hinged on how it has become pertinent for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to practice what they preach, especially on how they transition their organization to become sustainable, and not to become self-seeking, and rent – seeking organizations. Of course, two -hours isn’t enough to discuss this, but the bottom line was that CSOs should develop methodologies of incorporating the communities they serve into their organization and that their constitutions should state clearly how the leadership of such CSOs transit.

120 minutes isn’t a long time, so short that the fully occupied seats of the hall 4, at the Silverbird Cinemas, couldn’t but beg for a vote of thanks. Orchestrated by the Co-founder and Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal who affirmed that the vision of the organization is to see the new born generation, and the future generation upholds the ideals and ideology of CODE’s Follow The Money. “No doubt, our immense thanks rest on on organizations like Indigo Trust, Omidyar Network, and a list of others, who saw the vision, and believed it is worth investing in – intellectually and financially,” Hamzat said in closing.

But Who are You? The Global Media Forum in 2017 focusing on Identity and Diversity

Oludotun Babayemi June 18, 2017 0

Put seven people from the different continent in a room, and let them share experiences of how growing – up looks like in their various continent. You will get different perspectives. Ask same people, how they think their growing up could have been made smarter, I am sure they will not give you the same answer. So, do we think we have general solutions to today’s world problems? Are we living some people behind, especially in the post-cold war era? Whether it’s populism, liberalism, or extremism – it seems there is a new world order, and marginalized communities are starting to feel they have a voice, and they really want to leverage on this voice to make a certain statement!

“It is not really about liberal democracy, it is about identifying what works for your community, for your people, and what makes you tick as a nation” a resolution from a heated debate that ensued between myself, a Chinese, a Cameroonian, and an Ethiopian while passing through the border control at Frankfurt, Germany. It’s another edition of the Global Media Forum in Bonn, and I will be attending the Forum again for the second year in a row – this time to join in the discussion about Identity and Diversity. The Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum is an international congress that provides a platform for more than 2,000 media representatives, and experts from the fields of politics, culture, business, development and science.

At the end of my Junior High in 1993, Samuel Huntington published an article in the Foreign Affairs on The clash of civilizations and he reiterated his hypothesis that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Fast forward to 2017, the world is facing the challenge of democracy decline in developing countries, alignment between groups that find common goods amongst themselves – Qatar, Iran, Syria, China and Russia; the new revolution in France – Le Marche, which is either Left or Right; the Isolated North Korea; the British exit from the European Union; and not to forget the emergence of the blockchain technology that breaks the monopoly of powerful central banks and government agencies in maintaining single entities.

As a matter of fact, the media is not immune to this change in world order. It is becoming difficult for the media to decipher fact from lies! Cultures can decide to have their own media and share with the world, for some people – Twitter and Facebook have become their media, and as the world evolves from the 24-hour news stream, it is becoming more challenging for the media to communicate solutions. For the next three days (June 19 – 21), I look forward to engaging with delegates at the Global Media Forum to designing interdisciplinary approaches for meeting the challenges of the new world era, and explore how the media can play a central role in this post – factual time.

To follow the conversation at the 2017 Global Media Forum 2017 in Bonn, Follow The Official event Twitter handle – @DW_GMF; Official Event Hashtag #dw_gmf; and also our Twitter handle @connected_dev 

Oludotun Babayemi is the co -founder of Connected Development [CODE] popularly known for its Follow The Money Project in Nigeria, and now in other countries in Africa. You can schedule a meeting with him by commenting on this blog post, and via his Twitter handle – @dotunbabayemi