Public Speaking: What are You Afraid of?

Communications January 27, 2022 0

By Pearl Utuk

Standing before a room full of people can make you suddenly realize what a bad idea having that beautiful cup of tea this morning was. Thoughts of your inadequacies and how Mr Y or Miss G will always be the best person for such a daunting task, would begin to torment you. Next thing you know, sweat is pouring out of glands you didn’t even know you had.

Stop. Breath in. Hold it in. Breath out slowly. (Seriously, do it!)

Pearl Utuk gives a presentation on the poor state of PHCs in administrating COVID vaccines

What are you really afraid of? 

Stammering? Your mind suddenly going blank? Fear of not being good enough? Fear that you do not really understand the subject matter? Fear of being ridiculed by your audience? Once you have been able to appropriately identify the source of your fears, you have solved your own problems by 50%. Congratulations. 

Let me share my story. 

In October 2021, I was asked to represent my organisation (CODE) at a congregation of health experts from around the world with focus on the African Continent- Global Emerging Pathogens Treatments Consortium (GET-Africa) Conference. You see, we had just concluded the first phase of COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP) in 7 African Countries. I was the Programme Officer for Nigeria where we had tracked the State of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) so it made sense that I should present the findings of the PHC campaign at the conference. 

But hey! I’m not talking about a bunch of development professionals or to children in underdeveloped communities where I could just be myself and enjoy humanity in its most basic form. I’m talking about top guns like the Nigerian Ministry of Health, WHO, a United Nations body (UNODA), NPHCDA, the Lagos State Governor, the marines and many other “adults”. The child in me began whimpering. I began hyperventilating and sweating despite the cold blast of the air conditioning. 

CODE had spent a lot of money bringing me to that conference and like it or not, I was going to deliver and so I became my own shrink. I spoke to myself in the mirror for at least a week, I practiced my presentation, I even inserted a joke in my opening. 

When I got to the hall, I made myself look into each of their faces. I saw them for the flawed humans they are. These magnificent and brilliant minds that have issues of their own. No, they do not have life all figured out. They take chances just like me and they hope with bated breaths that they made the right choice, just like me. They feel pain and joy, they laugh and cry (well, most of them do). And when they go home, they take off their magnificent regalia and put on shorts and slippers too. 

A beautiful realization hit me soon after. They were all waiting with expectation for my presentation! And so with my head held high and shoulders squared, I climbed the podium and began with “I am not a medical professional. I am an activist…” I spoke with the voice of one who had witnessed the poor and sick who have no choice but to utilize dysfunctional, substandard PHCs, hustling for COVID-19 vaccines that were being hoarded by personnel.

The ovation that followed that presentation still rings in my ear if I listen closely. 

Back to you. So when preparing for that daunting presentation, practice! Commit yourself to understanding the subject matter, know your audience, dress the part, read the tone of the room and adjust your presentation accordingly, and finally, remember to breathe. You’ve got this!

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

CSOs Seek Collaboration with National Assembly on Budget Matters.‎ By Olusegun Olagunju

Hamzat Lawal November 11, 2016 0

In a bid to safeguard transparency and accountability around several themes concerning the Budget, the Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) of the Nigerian Senate in collaboration with Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and UK‎ Department for International Development (DFID) on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2016 hosted an Interactive Session. The Session was between the Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations on Nigeria’s Budgeting System with a Focus on 2016 Budget Performance and 2017 Budget.

The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki was available to declare open the Interactive Session. He stated, “The implementation of the 2016 Budget is still ongoing” and added that, “Non-oil revenues are also falling out of projection, affecting the Budget implementation.”

img_0393-editThe Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations, Senator Rose Oko gave her opening remarks and extensively gave commended the efforts of the NGOs and CSOs partnership that has yielded a whole lot of benefits over the past years.

She said, “At the first session held at Transcorp Hilton on 8th of February 2016, a consensus was reached that a Memorandum of Cooperation be developed.”
According to her, “On the 10th February 2016, another session was held in the Senate Conference room and was attended by the Senate President. A Major outcome of the meeting was the strong position canvassed by the CSOs seeking to be involved in the budgetary process in the National Assembly. The Senate believes that the involvement of CSOs would add value to the budgetary process of the National Assembly.”

She went further to say, “Senate reasoned that their involvement would also help to improve service delivery as government would feel pressured to perform better based on the CSOs budget analysis, general oversight role and information dissemination.”

“Senate therefore considered that the participation of CSOs could strengthen the legislators’ functions on budgetary matters by way of delivering research-based evidence and advice to members of the National Assembly”.

Senator Rose Oko reiterated further that the Senate, “Will use this forum to develop a functional framework that will enable us to achieve enhanced results in the budget system. Fundamentally, this meeting will offer us a crucial window to preview and endorse our Memorandum of Cooperation with a view to affirming the direction of our partnership. This development would enable us to commence without further delay, mutual activities and joint actions beneficial to our Nation”.

She congratulated us all and welcomed us to this new bond of a working relationship between the CSOs and Legislature.

img_0384-editThe Chairman of PLAC, Mr. Clement Nwankwo was in attendance and also gave insightful tips on how the Senate can gain the CSOs trust.

He said, “We want to see the figures reeled out as to what has been achieved”. He expressed further that, “The executives should explain to the masses what has happened to the 2016 budget.”

To bring his remarks to a close, he said, “CSOs have questions to ask” and that, “We hope the partnership between CSOs and the Senate will bring good results.”

In attendance also was Dr. Otive Igbuzor, the Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development. He gave a detailed speech tailored towards ensuring mutual harmony of the CSOs and Legislature, he was, however very brave to point at the hollow points in the designing strategies of the budget and gave a broader overview.

In his remarks he said, “In Nigeria, there are a lot of blockages to effective budgeting. First and foremost, the budgetary process is not participatory. Citizens and communities do not participate in formulating policies and agreeing on projects that go into the budget. Meanwhile, It has been documented that wherever participatory budget is implemented. It has expanded citizenship, empowered excluded groups, redeemed rights, deepened democracy and stimulated civil society.”

He said, “The budgetary process is not open. Corruption in any country starts from the budgetary process. In very corrupt countries, the budget is done in secrecy. Releases are done without the knowledge of citizens. Procurement information is not made available to Citizens and corruption is guarded and protected.”

He went further, “A budget is regarded as open if Citizens have access to the key budget documents; have high level of involvement in the budgetary process and have access to procurement information.”

Still on citizens participation in the budgetary process, Dr Otive said, “As a matter of fact, democracy will be meaningless if the citizens do not participate in how government raise and spend money. This is why the tool – Open Budget Survey Tracker – developed by the International Budget Partnership is a very useful instrument.”

What he said concerning the budget not being in accordance with the development challenges of the country is that, “There is no synergy between plans, policy and budget. We have always argued that there is the need for better public finance management across the world because of increasing inequality and non-inclusive growth. The past five decades have witnessed monumental changes in the world. Global economic wealth has increased sevenfold and average incomes have tripled.”

He said there are frivolous expenditures in the budget that will not stand any reasoning and logic. “For instance, the Centre for Social Justice documented N668.8 billion frivolous expenditure in the 2016 budget. They include N3.91 billion allocated annual reporting maintenance of villa facilities; N322.4 million for linking of cable to drivers rest room at the villa; N213.8 million for linking cable from guest house to generator house etc.”

He was quick to point at the institutions and mechanisms for oversight of the budgetary process as being weak. He said, “In any modern democracy, the legislature, civil society and media are expected to play oversight functions in addition to the internal control system in place by the executive.”

According to him, there were many lessons learnt from the 2016 budget implementation, some of which are: the Engagement by Citizens and citizens’ groups produced some positive reports in terms of reduction of frivolous expenditure. For instance, CSJ documented a total saving of N71,954,532,546.00 from the 2016.

img_0377“Delay in passage of budget continued in 2016. This has the potential to affect budget performance negatively. There was low capacity in understanding the new budgetary approach of zero base budgeting on the part of public servant and civil society,” he asserted.

He also made a deep dive into how Civic Education, Social, Economic and political resilience, budget literacy, comparative analysis of best practice in budgeting are the issues that formulate emerging consensus among civil society that needs to be addressed going forward.

According to Dr. Igbuzor, there are three ways we could measure the impact level performance of the 2016 budget, they are: Input Level, which is how much of the budgeted amount was released and used in the implementation.

Process, how the activities were carried out. Procurement process asks if the activities are carried out as and at when due.

Output, Outcome and Impact levels concerns the immediate result of the activities. The effect of the budget activities or any change attributable to the budget actives and Change in people’s lives attributable to the budget respectively.

He lamented that, “For a very long time, Nigeria had no institutionalised monitoring and evaluation system where there is a regular production of monitoring information; regular production of monitoring findings; and monitoring and evaluation findings are used to improve government performance.”

In conclusion, he commended the National Assembly for the interactive session. He stated, “We need to go a step further by ensuring public hearing in the budget at all levels: Federal, State and Local Government. I undemanding that the leadership of the National Assembly has agreed on the need to subject the budget to Public hearing. The 2017 budget should be the beginning point.”

Positive reactions and  towards his remarks came from different sections of the room.

Critical observations and assessment of Citizens’ priorities in Budgeting Formulations was made by Barrister Eze Onyekpere of the Centre for Social Justice.

The representative of Department of International Development prayed ‎prayed that, “It will be helpful if you can ensure this becomes a norm and part and parcel of the legislation in terms of what concerns the citizens.”

The Chief Executive of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal who was present at the Interactive Session raised the tempo of the hall when he greeted with the assertion that,‎ “There’s a World Bank intervention fund for PHCs across Nigeria, we just came back from Akwa Ibom, Kogi, Osun, Yobe, Enugu, Osun and Kano as we seat, nothing has been done.”

Senator Tejuosho, Chairman Senate Committee on Health also mildly acknowledged that, “Of course The Health Act is one of the declarations that I know we are violating”.‎

Senator Rose Oko, in her closing remarks said, “We need to work together, the CSOs and the Nation Assembly need to work together.”

“We will recommend a resolution of this interactive session to the Senate for approval”.‎

Lastly, she assured that, “We will make available to you the conclusion of this meeting.”

The Senate was reminded of their promise that, ‎”You made a promise to #OpenNASS, please open it up”‎ and this, to me was the highpoint of the Interactive Session.

Post #IODC16: Will The Real Open Data Movement Please Stand Up!

Oludotun Babayemi October 15, 2016 0

Isn’t it nice to be back in Europe after 2 months – this time in the city of Madrid, not to see the Santiago Bernebeu, or a bull fight, but for the 4th International Open Data Conference (IODC) between October 6 – 7, 2016, the second I will be attending after the IODC in Ottawa, Canada in 2015. These IODC’s always bring back memories of the Open Knowledge Festival where you can be overwhelmed with information due to concurrent sessions taking place at the same time. The IODC in Madrid alone had 87 talks, 28-preevents, 1.660 attendees and lots of hours of shared experiences, with new networks in the kitty, and I was opportune to speak at the Indigenous Open Data Summit, a pre-event of the IODC, and also a speaker and Impact Panelist on Data + Accountability session of the IODC on the first day.

Surprisingly, the word “open washing” came out of this conference like it never had before, and I am still pondering over this like, isn’t this the same that has happened to any multi – stakeholder movement. The truth is that it has become difficult for development to persist without politics of governments. The government in this sense can now be categorised into the government of developed countries, and those of developing countries. My thoughts here are for the government of developing countries, who have not realised the potentials inherent in Open Data. They do not have to do Open Data because it is been sponsored by another government organisation, they can look inwards (if they have the right kind of eyes) and find benefits.

For instance, infrastructure dataset could be made accessible to citizens, while entrepreneurs can build tools based on the available data public use. An example could have been Doctors Office a mobile application that provides patient with a doctor to talk to, and also a healthcare locator. Although at its early stage, I asked the creator of the platform what their plans were to make this available on feature phones, so rural communities could have access as this can reduce lots of waiting time, and unacceptable death due to emergencies. Also Imagine what cmapIT can do if location dataset is made available by the government of Nigeria – Government should collaborate with this entrepreneurs, and open up these datasets while they get revenue accrued from tax – that’s what government should be doing!

Oludotun Babayemi on the Impact Panel on Data and Accountability at the IODC in Madrid

Sitting on the panel on Data + Accountability with Global Witness, IDRC, Civio, Open Knowledge Germany,

Having said that, there is a renewed interest in open data by national statistics offices of countries. Talking to Mohamed Salimi, the Chief of the division of the statistics office in Rabat, Morroco made me had a sense of the direction of most statistics office and their interest in open data. Perhaps, to create more data for entrepreneurs in their countries, and largely an opportunity for them acquire knowledge on data processes. Systems that allow for capacity building is key to the open data movement, the people on the supply side must revamp the systems that operate within their organisation to allow for effective use of training within their institutions – I mean, how do you expect the culture of open data in an institution that still cannot run an organization email. As much as it is important to train government officials, it is also pertinent that we strengthen citizens knowledge on the use of data – which the school of data has started already, but a lot still needs to be done!

During the two sessions that I presented our Follow The Money work, I was asked on our relationship with the government, and how we hope to make the initiative locally owned other than some set of people determining campaigns in communities. Simply put, when we started, we were like an enemy of the government, but recently, government agencies had turned partners, but at arm’s length, with no MOU 😉 When we have contractors for government projects sending weekly situation reports to us on project implementation, then we are partners. In answer to the second question, we have community reporters leading campaigns in 29 states out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria but cannot initiate campaigns because we have not done proper orientation for them, but the idea is for them to own it. Going forward, you should look out for the next episode of Follow The Money driven by community champions themselves – how we did this, will be presented at the next IODC in Buenous Aires, Argentina. See you there!

 

Procurement Standards: Challenges Within the Nigeria Education Sector

Oludotun Babayemi September 24, 2016 0

“For most of the Millenium Development Goals project for education in Nigeria, that we monitored, we found out that a larger percentage of them have turned abandoned project, and the major reason was that there were problems at the procurement stage” said Mrs Hajia Liman, the deputy director at the Federal Ministry of Education, overseeing Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) projects in education.

Owing to the lessons learnt from the Millenium Development Goal project, they decided to organise a 3 – day workshop between September 21 -23 at the Chida Hotel in Abuja in which CODE’s Follow The Money team was invited to facilitate sessions on open contracting standards and tracking the SDG project on quality education (SDG4). Actually, I was amazed by the number of challenges the head of federal government secondary schools highlighted, especially during the procurement processes.

The Open Contracting Standard Process

The open contracting standard processes as seen at http://standard.open-contracting.org/latest/en/getting_started/contracting_process/

Immediately Dr Hussain Adamu, of the procurement department finished his presentation, questions could not allow us to introduce our session, and I wonder, when last these head of unity schools, from the 36 states and FCT had time to discuss the procurement act, and standards they should follow. As stated in the Nigeria Public Procurement Act 2007, any institution embarking on projects must publish a call for bid in the Federal Tenders journal and in one other daily newspaper. Participants responded to this as – “We do not have budget and funds to advertise, so how do you want us to place adverts, even in the federal tenders journal, and at that, you even need to travel from my community down to Abuja to place the advert”. Oh my, God, I hope you aren’t dumfounded too! in this age of emails.

One challenge that was reiterated amongst the head of schools was how the inflation rate in the country is already affecting the budget that was appropriated. “For instance, If 10 million was appropriated for the construction of a library, and we send tender notices, and during bidding evaluation of all submitted bid, the average price quoted for the best and qualified contractors was at 15 million Naira, what do we do, even when only 7 million out of the money was released to us by the Ministry” asked one of the head of schools. It was a consensus at the workshop that this was the reality on ground with the 2016 budget already, and the response was that they should go ahead and agree in the contract document to pay the amount the school have at hand which is 7 million Naira, and later adding the balance of  8 million Naira to their proposed budget for 2017 as an ongoing project. So just in case, you will be analysing and tracking the 2017 budget, there are already issues to deal with.

14354989_1223927261003266_8594465928064227431_n

Oludotun Babayemi using participatory approach to disseminating methodologies that can be used in tracking SDG4 expenditures

Tracking of government spending isn’t sexy at all! I remembered in 2014 when we were tracking funds meant to provide an industrial water borehole at Federal Government Girls College, Gusau, we only went to the school to ask the principal question and armed with our already made paper visualisation on funds that was meant to provide the water borehole for girls in the school. He was amazed by the knowledge we already had about the project. However, before he could grant us an audience, he asked severally if we had authority from the Federal Ministry of Education.” But we do not have to, we are citizens, and even with a secondary level of identification, anyone can ask for what and how is his/her tax is been spent” I affirmed to him. In the same vein, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) desk of the Federal Ministry of Education hopes to partner with our Follow The Money project in ensuring what happened to the MDGs wouldn’t occur again. At times, announcing such partnership is a delight, but one question still remains if the government can work at the pace we work – Something to look out for!

 

 

After Secondary School by Titus Tukurah

Hamzat Lawal August 15, 2016 0

Some of our classmates have gone out of the country, some are now graduates, some have married, some have given birth, some are dead don’t forget that too, some are yet to be admitted into the tertiary institution, but you know that feeling when you meet your classmate and it seems like they have achieved their dreams and you’re not yet close to yours.

Yes, somehow feels like jealousy, it’s a normal feeling. But, you must not regret your life because all fingers are not equal. We all are different and our path to greatness is not same in distance. Some might reach before you, some might reach after you, some might not even reach, but whatever level you are presently please keep trying to break the limitations and move further. Celebrate the success of others, it’s an application for yours, rejoice with those that are rejoicing and mourn with them that are mourning. Your friend buys a car now, be happy with him. Remember when you get yours, theirs wouldn’t be the latest again. Life is not by competition but rather endurance.

Life is also a game that some might succeed while others might not. If not we all have been born into one family, one religion and same everything. The passion in you, never quench. The desire in you, keep it burning. The goal in you, keep pursuing it. What you pass through, the challenge you are facing don’t be intimidated rather write it down because one day the world would be ready to read it. There’s no height you cannot attain, just believe, define your goals and recognize distractions, spend time teaching yourself, because the things that mainly take people to the top is the things they devoted day and night and time to time to develop. Don’t be intimidated by your fellow’s success, the sky is too wide that the birds can fly without touching themselves.

9db2e1ee-01dd-4ddf-9554-9106663f8a88The mind is a dangerous thing and if you let it, it will kick you, beat you, and make you want to give up, quit, run for the hills and never, ever look back. Ever. In short, the mind can be a twist. It’s not easy to overcome the thoughts that trip us up. The self-destructive thoughts our minds come up with may be irrational, but when they’re raging inside of your head, well, they seem very real and very serious, and they can be utterly devastating.

Have you ever felt like such a fake as a writer that you wanted to walk away and never feel that way again? I never feel like a fake cause I know where i’m going to and where am from. Think positive, dream positive, Eat positive, Live positive and stop looking down on yourself or somebody but keep but to your dream, vision and goal.

#Kadandani – Thriving on the heels of economical trees, threatened by unfulfilled promises!

codepress November 21, 2015 0

How does doing a community outreach in a state where a suicide bomber just killed so many lives sounds like? Yes we were in Kano, when the tragedy struck, but many times this would not distract us like someone said during our radio engagement “I think the Follow The Money team are a group of Nigerians that are never shaken, even in the light of insecurity in the North”.Maybe the next conversation, might be – “How do you manage it?”

 

We are typical Nigerians that follows not only money for good, but our passion pushes us, and so same passion took us to Kadandani in Makoda Local Government of Kano State. Estimated to have a population of 6,000 with one primary and secondary school each, only one source of water that  thrives on an alternative power – the AC generator;and a clinic that has only one midwife attending to patients.

The Shelter Belt initiated by the Kano State Government two decades ago

                                            The Shelter Belt initiated by the Kano State Government two decades ago

 

Kadandani has a long stretch of shelterbelts, which made us think the community might be thriving on economical trees “Each woman in the community has four Date trees she nurtures, hoping that in future years, we will reap from each Date fruit”  affirmed Hajiya Mari the head of the women association in Kadandani who recently attended a 2 days seminar on the importance of the Great Green Wall project and they were directed to submit their registration and bank account details which they did. She mentioned that same project was initiated by the Kano State government and has been in existence 4 years ago. “The huge shelter belts surrounding our community is an initiative of the state government, it started decades ago, but what we hope for now is that the government can now provide processing machines for peanuts harvested by our women, as such we can make kuli-kuli in large scale” explained Mari

 

The Great Green Wall (GGW) project in Kadandani has lived to its expectation with awareness, trainings and shortcomings in unfulfilled promises of water and social projects. “The Kadandani inhabitants are much aware about the benefit of planting trees, owing to awareness and training programmes by the government, but it has had its own challenges, at the beginning of the GGW, we were promised water, an important amenity to us and our livestocks, but looking back, this is not the case if you visit the proposed site for this amenities” explained Adamu Abdullahi, community head of Kadandani

The FTM team with key groups in the community - from top left is Hajiya Mari

                                           The FTM team with key groups in the community – from top left is Hajiya Mari

 

100m away from the fences of their mud – thatched roofs, is located a “drying up” orchard  with a solar powered tank, which was meant to generate 10 water points for the community, and  a livestock water storage trough. “6 months after this was installed, it stopped working, and since then we have written to the federal government, but there has not been any response and the nurseries and orchards are getting dried up” – says Adamu. But one would have thought that the community would have invested or carry on the burden of sustaining the project, “When there was no response, I had to start using sprinklers and trying to raise new orchards, and I encouraged other community members to do as well, but we can only do a little” Shehu Ibrahim, the owner of one of the 5 hectares of land which the community offered to the federal government for this project.

 

Speaking with the Director, Forestry Department of the State Ministry of Environment, he clearly affirmed the situation in not only Kadandani “although we are trying to restore this water source for the plants, livestock and the people, its been challenging getting the contractors to fix the water tanks properly, and this is not peculiar to Kadandani, we have 5 shelter belts in other 3 other communities in Makoda, and we need to provide water at each communities for the GGW  to survive” explained Danusa Ibrahim, Director, Forestry Department.

The orchard and nursery site in Kadandani, just behind is the non-functional 10 water points

                           The orchard and nursery site in Kadandani, just behind is the non-functional 10 water points

 

Little wonders, why laudable social projects in local communities gets abandoned at the height of hysteria, perhaps, no thinks about its sustainability, or projects are initiated to gain political integrity. “Although as a lead, I have been more enlightened about the benefits of projects like GGW, as we have seen in Zinder, Niger during one of our field trips, it is more important to consult the local communities first before starting social projects like this, also I will advise stakeholders such as lawmakers from these communities should take the lead in some of these consultations, this can help in the sustainability of the project” Miyaki said
So what happens to Kadandani afterwards? As these kind of stories interests us at FTM, we will be looking at every opportunity to get water to the 5,000 people that inhabits Kadandani; and not just to forget their livestocks and flora that exist in their community. If you are in Kano, and you think you want to join in tracking the 70 million Naira that was meant for Kadandani which might lead to getting back water to the 5,000 inhabitants, join us now!

 

When Agents of State become Kleptocratic, Women are denied of Alternatives!

codepress September 18, 2015 0

An extract from the foreward of our new Follow The Money report on the activation – #WomenCookstoves

“Even the most well intended and well thought out policies may not have an impact if they are not implemented properly. Unfortunately, the gap between intention and implementation can be quite wide. The many failings of government are often given as the reason good policies cannot really be made to work” as suggested by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo in Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of Way to Fight Global Poverty.

In the same vein, we quite agree that government inadequacy is greatly affecting the impact of foreign aid in a developing country like Nigeria. In November 26, 2014, the federal government of Nigeria announced the approval of NGN 9.2 Billion Naira (NGN 9,287,250,000) for the procurement and distribution of 750,000 clean cookstoves and 18,000 Wonderbags, as part of the National Clean Cooking Scheme (NCCS) to rural women in order to reduce deaths emanating from indoor air pollution, reduce tree felling, and desertification. One would have thought this is a right step, in the right direction, and at the right time when the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, is strengthening key stakeholders in providing alternative energies for their countries.

Follow The Money #WomenCookstoves

It’s already 256 days after this announcement, and 120 days after some of the funds were released to the Federal Ministry of Environment [MOE] of Nigeria, the fate of the 750,000 rural households or women that were suppose to enjoy from the benefit of this project still remains hanging, with lots of controversy around the number of clean cookstoves that the contractor has already “brought” into the country, the court case filed by the contractor against the Ministry of Environment, and most importantly where did all the money go? or where is the money?

It is easy to get depressed by such findings like “the milk has been skimmed somewhere and somehow” 5 billion Naira finally got to the Ministry of Environment account, and 1.2 Billion Naira (NGN 1,253,778,750) out of it went to the contractor, although the MOE in a response to our FOIA letter confirmed NGN 1,393,087,000 is the total sum of the contract, while the remaining 4.2 Billion Naira (4, 287,250,000) is nowhere to be found, and we keep been asked on why we do what we do: “Why bother?” These are the “small” questions in that if perhaps, no one, decided to keep the story alive – with several request for information letters (using the FOIA), monthly stakeholders meetings, tweet – a – thons, and traditional media engagements – this would not have been in the front burner, as it has always been.

In this campaign, the agents of “horizontal accountability” in Nigeria – the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) have been an ally since we started tracking, and they had every bit of information around this activation. As pointed out in Andreas Schedler’s Restraining the State: Conflicts and Agents of Accountability that agencies of accountability do not develop as the result of solo brilliant performances but need requisite coalitions to come together, in this case we had to kick the status quo from its point of equilibrium, while still hoping that the ICPC will sprung into action after been part of the processes we have initiated.

Follow The Money is an initiative of Connected Development [CODE] that advocates, visualizes and tracks funds (government spending or international aid spending] that are meant for local communities, and this report is an output from our #WomenCookstoves activation in December 2014.

We Will Like to Follow your Money but…

codepress September 1, 2015 0

This might be a good read for you, if you are planning to “activate” or partner with  us!

In the last three years, since Follow The Money  (FTM) started, we have had questions around what kind of money do we “follow” or track, and how can we approach your team to initiate a campaign (We refer to this as activation, and some of the questions are – how can we partner with Follow The Money; You Follow The Money people will you follow the 500 million Naira grant just approved by the World Bank; Follow The Money, you should track the billions going to SURE – P; Follow The Money, there is a new government, please follow every dime going to government officials.

 

There is a simple answer to this: Connected Development’s [CODE] Follow The Money tracks funds that are meant for infrastructures or inputs in rural communities eg health, education, and other social incentives (In essence, capital projects which includes provision of drugs, health facilities, environmental inputs such as water boreholes, incineration equipment, education incentives such as libraries, books etc. We are sorry to conclude that FTM does not track funds that are concerned with staff salaries, employee or employer’s benefits etc.

The Kinds of funds we are interested in tracking

The kinds of funds we are interested in tracking at Follow The Money Nigeria

However, it should be noted that while the list above remains of top priority, there are other secondary considerations and priorities. The funds that FTM track must be in the area of Health, Education and Environment (HEE). At times, we can be interested in cross – cutting issues that emanated from any of these three. These three are most important for rural communities to exist and live sustainably.

 

Although, Follow The Money is a model of investigative journalism, it is not involved in funds that have already been disbursed, or should have worked in communities it was meant for. An example is a NGN 200 million that was announced by the government of Nigeria in 2013 to provide 10 boreholes in Adavi Local Government Area. Just because Two years has passed on that issue, FTM will not be interested in such, as it is already two years.Because, we hope to prevent corruption, we are interested in fresh fund releases, not more than one year from funds approval or release by either government or the aid agency.

 

When you have taught this through, you, your organization, your group can then send a mail to activations@followthemoneng.org; call our hotline at 09- 291-7545 or fill our activation form online at http://followthemoneyng.org/activations.html. We will notify you for further action after we have received your request for activation. It is not necessary that you should be able to provide resources for the project, but at times we have been activated by groups that are willing to provide resources, especially as in – kind contributions during the activation lifetime.

 

It’s then Way to Go! did you just read that some funds got approved to providing infrastructures or inputs in your rural community? reach out to us now, and we can quickly follow up! It might just be the little you can do for your local community. It might also interest you to know that the team are always involved in researching funds that have just been approved to local communities, as such we can dive into activation using our primary desk research and data mining results.