#FollowTheMoney: Tracking N20 million Primary School Construction in Tongo, Gombe State

Communications July 15, 2019 0

Muazu Alhaji Modu

North East in 2018 ranked highest number of out of school children in Nigeria. This is mainly caused by the devastation of the region by Boko Haram insurgency, impeding academic activities and causing the increase of the number of children that are not in school.

Another contributing factor to the accelerating number of out of school children is the deficiencies in the basic education sector— lack of  basic infrastructures, inadequate teaching material and poor qualification of teachers—are making education in the NorthEast a challenge that needs urgent intervention.

In 2016, the Nigerian Government budgeted NGN 20million, for the construction and furnishing of 2 blocks of 3 Classrooms at Tongo II Primary School in Tongo village, Gombe State under the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

Follow The Money, known for its mission to track government spending and ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of government or international aid projects in grassroots communities, began a campaign, #FurnishTongo, to track and oversee the completing of the Education project in Tongo II Primary School.

Follow The Money is working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 4 –improving access to quality basic education and ensuring effective service delivery at grassroots. As the Follow The Money Chapter Lead in Gombo State, I led a team on a preliminary visit to Tongo community. There, we learned that the school had only 4 classrooms  while 2 of these  classrooms were dilapidated but still, they served as learning rooms to over 700 registered Pupils (414 Boys and 286 Girls).

Follow The Money sensitized the people of Tongo and intensively engaged local leaders, women groups, youth groups, religious heads—in the tracking  process so they could ask their elected representatives the right questions and monitor the contractors assigned the project till it is completed. One of the challenges we experienced was harrassment from political persons acusing us of working with opponents to incite rural dwellers against the government. Our lives were threatened and we were told if we did not end our campaigns, we would be locked in cells. We, however, presented documents (page of the budget where project started, tender advertisement, FOI request letters to various MDAs, reports of community outreaches etc.) to them showing FTM’s independence of any group. We told them Follow The Money is a legitimate transparency and accountability movement

We intensified our advocacy on both traditional and social media. Few days later the construction commenced and was completed  within a very short period of time. After the implementation, the ratio of students per classroom drastically reduced at the school and more children were enrolled at Tongo II Primary School. Our advocacy brought about the building of 6 additional classrooms and also created opportunity for hundreds of children to access basic education.

Why We Must Embrace the HeForShe Culture – Olusegun Olagunju

Hamzat Lawal June 16, 2017 0

L-R Hamzat Bala Lawal, Senator Jummai Alhassan

Ever imagined the world where there wouldn’t be differences within the gender grouping? Ever wished your female children are accorded same respect as given to the male folks out there?

 

These drove the challenge for the HeForShe campaign that was created by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and empowerment of women, HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, enlisting men and boys as equal partners in the responsible crafting and implementing of a shared vision of gender equality, with norms of gender equality, non-violence and respect, and thus together positively reshaping society.

Purely the fundamental objectives of HeForShe campaign are to change discriminatory behaviours, through building awareness of the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment and the crucial role men can play in their own lives, and at more structural levels in their communities, to end the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.

HeForShe also provides a platform for men and boys to become advocates for women and girls, and to behave accordingly, telling their stories to the global community about the actions they are taking to end inequality.

There are mixed feelings in the acceptance of this cause but to know if this call for change is necessary, we need to have had a fair knowledge of how gender-inequality wrecks the society.
Research estimates suggest that, on the current trajectory, gender equality would not be achieved until 2095. With men and boys at the table and engaged in the issue, we believe that we can more than double the Speed of change.

Can we then fold our arms and anticipate 2095 without acting as fast as we can and allow this unhealthy phase continue in this devastating form?

In this light, an event was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development at the International Conference Centre for officially and Nationally Launch this HeForShe campaign in Nigeria to sensitize the National mind-set of the need to act now for a gender equal world.

Present at the event were notable figures, the Vice President of Nigeria; Professor Yemi  Osinbajo, The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development; Senator Aisha Jummai AlHassan and Phyllis Nwokedi; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

The Ministry channels visibly took all present around what we stand to enjoy as this campaign kicks off. It was relayed that the Ministry’s ambitious aim is to secure the commitment of one billion men to make changes in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Those changes may range from small steps – acknowledging the issue and recognizing that the status quo is acceptable to big steps that directly make changes to individual or community lives.

Hamzat Lawal; The Chief Executive of Connected Development, an organization that has done well in ensuring that marginalized people and sect are empowered and have their voices amplified was also present at the event and gave a direct speech on the focus and his stance on gender equality and parity.

He said “Although we have come a long way from a century ago regarding the rights of women and girls, there is room for improvement. According to UN Women, gender equality is defined as “equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys”.

For long, the attention and the pressure have fallen only on women to be the ones who should believe in gender equality. This is wrong. Both men and women should play an active role in ensuring equality between the sexes. As the popular Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says- “we should all be feminists”! This creed should be passed on to our future generations.

He further enthused “I am happy to be a young man who truly believes in gender equality. In my organization, 70% of my workforce is women.  As of 2016, my organization – CODE has directly impacted 26,811 rural lives, especially those of women and children in ensuring that educational and health care appropriations meant for them are well spent through our “Follow The Money” campaigns.
“However, this is not enough. As an Activist, I strongly believe that now is the time to stand up on our tiptoes, extend our arms to the sky, and confess to the world that we are sick of our women and girls missing out of school, and being victims of conflict and domestic violence.”Lastly, Lawal pointed out that “My greatest dream is that one day, I’ll have a little daughter and a son of my own. When my son asks me what it means to be a man, and when my daughter asks me what it means to be a woman, I should be able to tell them one similar thing- “Boys and Girls are equal!

“I implore our youth to join the HeforShe campaign by standing with women and girls around the world who deserve access to education, healthcare, water, and sanitation, as well as decent work.  As a great country, we could lead Africa in achieving the sustainable development goals.”

It is anticipated that out of the signatories to HeForShe, half will take the initial step of joining the solidarity campaign by making a simple positive pledge for gender equality. It is also projected that another quarter may make the pledge and then be inspired to become more engaged by taking a second step-to donate, to advocate and to sensitize themselves to gender equality issues. And a final quarter may deepen their engagement by making and following through on a major commitment that substantially contributes to social change.

 Every story of a champion making a difference has the potential to inspire others to become more engaged. Each man who takes a new action helps all of the humanity to take an additional step towards gender equality.

I advise you to Take Action Now for a Gender – Equal World.

Olusegun is the Social Media Strategist for Connected Development & FollowTheMoney. He’s a Social commentator and Social Media expert.

WORLD HEALTH DAY: LET’S TALK DEPRESSION, LET’S TALK HEALTH IN NAIJA

Hamzat Lawal April 7, 2017 0

Every year since 1950, the world has celebrated April 7th as World Health Day. So, in essence, we have had over sixty decades of this celebration. The question I ask myself however is “has this yearly celebration impacted Nigerian and indeed global health in any way?”

When I think about the fact that in this age and time, Nigeria is still grappling with communicable diseases as cholera, meningitis and malaria, that Nigeria still contributes 10% to global maternal mortality or that we lose over 2,000 under five year olds daily and I am greatly saddened. Only now are we even beginning to consider tackling non-communicable diseases such as cancer, hypertension, mental illness etc. The picture I see daily of our Health system is that we have had and still have governments who do not care much about the health of its people.

From non-functional Primary Healthcare centers to under-equipped or under-staffed ones to teaching hospitals that may not be readily accessible to the majority of citizens or those that even lack the most basic health facilities or instruments… Every day, the picture is that of doom and depression, which brings me to the theme of this year’s World Health day celebration “depression: let’s talk”.

It is all too important for us to talk about depression in Nigeria because even our health system causes one to be depressed most times! Imagine if you live in a community of over 5,000 inhabitants and there is no functional Primary Healthcare facility in that community, so people in the community have to either recourse to private health facilities where they will have to pay through their noses, further pushing them into poverty or travel long distances to the nearest public health institution (imagine if there was an emergency!).

On another hand, let us even say you do not live in a rural community; you live in a city where all the public health facilities are functional with top line facilities. Alas! A patient is rushed into the hospital on an emergency and is left unattended to until he/she dies or even that there is no doctor to attend to the patient because all doctors are on strike for unpaid salaries or the patient is in need of oxygen and there is no oxygen in the entire hospital. I am certain there are many who can relate to most or all of these scenarios (I can because I have been in some of these situations myself).

women waiting to receive medical care outside a Primary Healthcare Center photo credit: Nigerianeye.com

Beyond all of these instances and storytelling is the fact that there is an urgent need for a revamping of the Nigerian Health system which a lot of health advocates (me included) will argue should begin with putting more money into the health sector. Unarguably, it is true that the Nigerian health sector is largely underfunded but beyond increased funding, there should also be increased transparency in how the funds are being utilized. It is pertinent that before we insist that more money be put in, we demand for explanations and visible proof of how current funds are being expended so that we do not end up funding that same corruption we are claiming to fight by giving it more money in the end.

As citizens, one of the key roles we have to play is in holding our government accountable to its responsibilities. By voting them into power, we sign a social contract with them where we as citizens get to play our part and they as government get to play their part. So, do not just sit back and complain, get involved, get interested in the issues and arm yourself with adequate information, join a community of like-minded people and ACT now!

To join our growing community of activists who are working tirelessly to ensure transparency and accountability in how public funds are being expended, go to www.ifollowthemoney.org and request an invite. Let us work together to change the face of governance and healthcare administration in our beloved country.

My Internship At CODE has unfortunately come to an end by Nkem

Hamzat Lawal October 4, 2016 0

Before I could realize it, my three months internship at Connected Development has unfortunately come to an end.

After three months of exciting and unforgettable time at CODE, I can say it has been an awesome experience. I would like to take a moment to remember and cherish our times together. It has been great interacting and knowing each and every one of you. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with you all. During my stay at CODE, my associates gave me support and through their encouragement and guidance, I have been able to excel at the tasks I was assigned to.

The atmosphere there was awesome, peaceful, with good hearted and thoughtful people around. For an introvert like me, CODE presents a culture shock, almost everyone is an extrovert. I got acquainted with people who have devoted their lives for the betterment of the society; with no self-gain or greedy motive behind it. They chose social work as their profession because they wanted to do it, not for gaining publicity or making money but for the satisfaction of joy of giving.

nkem-w-hamyI’m part of the data mining team for Follow The Money. As a coordinator, I enter money figures of capital projects meant for rural communities in the area of health, education and environment into the bulleta word we use in our innovative virtual newsroom. Looking for these figures and filling them into the bullet wasn’t an easy task but once I got into the routine, I started to enjoy every minute of it.

I’ve had a brilliant time at CODE and honestly it’s a shame it had to end. I will greatly miss the team.

I want to use this opportunity to Thank  Hamzy! For his full support. I’m so thankful that you are my boss. You are not just a leader to me but an inspiration. Your hard work has been my inspiration since i joined CODE. Working for you is a pleasure, an experience that i will truly treasure. Thank you.

I look forward in the near future for an opportunity to work in CODE and contribute the little I can give.

Cheers,

Nkem Iroala.team

 

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!

 

 

Growing Insecurity In The State by Titus Tukurah

Hamzat Lawal September 20, 2016 0

“Train your mind to see the good in every situation”.

Background

The mortality rate (Death Rate) is very high to the extent that the population of the country is decreasing. People lost their lives and properties, some were displaced (IDPs), others are refugee while others are been malnourished yet the government takes no action. People are dying due to lack of food in the country especially in the north eastern part of the country.

The country is lacking Potential Security which will definitely lead to the breakdown of the country economic. We need adequate and equipped security in the country which will lead to the success of the nation. Insurgency is all over the places, herdsmen have rampage everywhere yet the government take no action.

titus

Problem:
Notwithstanding the sacrifice of the ill-equipped members of the armed forces the Boko Haram sect appears to have gained upper hand in the war on terror. Large towns like Bama, Gwoza, Mubi and Michika and hundreds of villages have been captured by the terrorists. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced while not less than 13,000 have been killed by the criminal gang. Not less than 16 local governments in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States have been annexed while the combined landmass of the occupied areas is said to be 21,545 square kilometers of territory.

Solution:
Apparently, peoples are raising good points but I still see those solution as something we must all come together to achieve irrespective of tribe, party and affiliation etc.
Northerners has to go back to drawing board and sort out so many issues. Many Yorubas and Igbos and other tribes engage themselves in one handwork or the other in other to make ends meet that if their parents are not buoyant enough to send them to school.
But, up North, the reverse is the case. A gate man that makes 10k in one month ends up having four wives with minimum of 20 children with of them as Almajiris. I still believe that this boko boys are product of Almajiri. North should find a way to abolish that system.North should find a way to abolish that system but course their political class use their acclaimed for their political purposes. Now the population of untrained children with no home training and lack of respect for elders has ended up hurting and hunting the North.

Way forward:
As far as the ongoing war against Boko Haram is concerned, there is no other news that could be cheering news to Nigerians and the international community as the release of the more than 200 schoolgirls, who were abducted from their dormitory in Chibok, Borno State, in April last upper year. Having waited for more than sixteen months, the world seems to have grown impatient, as everyone appears to be waiting with baited breath to receive the news about the girls’ return from the ‘Valley of the shadow of death.’ Even if the military and allied forces spring a surprise, experts believe that there is still a high hurdle to scale before Nigeria and its neighbours can be rid of terrorism.

CODE :The Future We See through Follow The Money Newsroom.

Hamzat Lawal July 19, 2016 2

A non-governmental organisation Follow The Money, an initiative of Connected Development (CODE)Connected Development (CODE) is set to launch “Virtual Newsroom.

The products from the Virtual Newsroom is set to further engage and empower more marginalized people in rural communities to enhance their livelihoods.

DOTUNSpeaking at an In-house training organised by CODE, the monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Oludotun Babayemi said Follow The Money is planning  a virtual newsroom that will run 24 hours – several times in a month with the objective of strengthening the voice of 95 million Nigerians leaving in rural communities in Nigeria, while increasing their participation in governance.

He said it’s important to have a participatory kind of discussion on how the newsroom is meant to look like, who’s doing what and create a larger workflow other than the one we have been using.

“We are talking about a newsroom that has over 60 reporters reporting into it from remote places. This means we need a robust, scalable and efficient framework other than the one we were using before. We thought it will be good to have a meeting to deliberate, discuss, make comments and suggestions about how the newsroom is meant to look like and also decide on the future of Follow The money,”he said.

The Monitoring and Evaluation officer, said Follow the Money is always motivated by stories from rural communities, which never gets into the mainstream media, adding that  every time there is a visit , they hear about new stories, not just for the success alone but of  failures of communities that are still ailing other than the ones that  are focused on.

He added that it is always motivating  that the group  can do more and  can have more people to do more.

“We are looking at the massive strength in the young people that we have, we can engage more of them and we can also have more communities that will be proactively vigilant in ensuring transparency and accountability of funds meant for their communities as well. These are the motivation for Follow The Money,” he said.

Speaking on the challenges, Babayemi said the challenges the movement  might face is keeping that of  retaining human resources and availability of financial resources
GROUP 3

“Some people might leave at some point  because  we can’t bring in 60-75 people and expect them to only be focused on our mission and goal. Some people would think of something else such as thinking of another movement from there. Both are the critical challenges we are looking forward to as we move on.,”he said

He further called on the general public to be on the lookout for new radio programs that will come up especially Follow the Money radio, adding that radio is what people in the rural communities rely on to get information.

Mr. Babayemi explained that Follow the Money radio will be used in increasing rural community participation on governance as it concerns implementation of funds meant for capital projects in their communities l.

“ They should look out for some of our bulletins and prints that we would want to share with them on the money we are following and money for the community and also on what the government is saying about such money should be something interesting the communities should be looking forward to,”he said.

Well in the next 15  years, the vision will be to see the present 95 million Nigerians living in rural communities listening and engaging their leaders through the Follow the Money Radio, likewise, seeing 50%  of that population sending in feedback to Follow the Money via SMS and our various online portal. Mr Babayemi noted

He said these target audience  could also be able to read about  Follow the Money In  online and offline bulletins or magazines.

“In essence, seeing  Follow the Money as a community mechanism where they can also read about their own community, and get their voices amplified is the future we see through Follow the Money and I hope that we will be able to achieve that,” he said.

 

    

 

Group seeks partnership with CODE on Stop don’t Drop campaign.

Hamzat Lawal June 28, 2016 2

The Stop Don’t Drop group in collaboration with Chanja Datti seeks partnership with Connected Development (CODE) in creating awareness on Environment sustainability and anti-littering stance.

Speaking at an interactive section held at CODE office in Abuja, the convener/Initiator of “Stop Don’t Drop”, Adiza Ujo said a research was conducted shortly after the fuel scarcity hit Nigeria.

She said the outcome of the research showed that many car owners who queued to buy fuel ended up buying eatables after which they littered the environment with wraps of whatever was bought.

“We found out the long queues at the filling Station led to more dirty in our environment, because while they wait for their turns to buy fuel the just buy “Gala and Lacaserra” drinks after which they just throw on the floor,”she said.

Ms Ujo noted that it is therefore necessary to enlighten the public on the use of waste bin or trash bags to deposit waste.

She further added that aside from depositing refuse dumps, such waste could be recycled into other products.

Also speaking,the Managing Director of Chanjia Datti, Ms Funto Boroffice said its not just about throwing dirty into trash bags, adding that when a trash  bag  could be returned back to the company for recycling.

She said it’s a way of also keeping the environment clean and to also create avenues for cab drivers to earn more income regardless of how little it may be

“Our focus are cab drivers and Keke riders, we intend to give them bag so that there passengers can throw their dirty in it,

“Once this is done the cab drivers are meant to bring back the bags to us with the dirty in it, after which they could either get recharge cards or a liter of fuel”, she said.

IMG-20160628-WA004She said that about 50,000 or more stickers will also be launched, adding that the stickers will be at the bumper of every cabs and keke in Abuja environs.

“The essence of this stickers is to help car owners stop littering the road with dirty, by throwing it out the window while driving,

“I am certain that when the car behind the one that  has a sticker that says “Stop don’t Drop” , he or she will think twice and not throw the dirty outside the window, “she said.

The Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, commended the group for this initiative, adding that CODE will assist in any possible way it can.

“I think it’s important that it is also treated at the senate level, whereby a bill is passed on that effect alongside policies,”he said.

He added that CODE will ensure the media helps broadcasts this initiative so that the information can get to the public as wide and fast as possible

“ We would try and engage  BBC Hausa to help amplifier alongside Wazobia fm, we could also make any of the Host on Wazobia fm an ambassador,”he said.

The monitoring and Evaluation manager of CODE, Oladotun Babayemi, suggested that everybody not just car owners or Keke riders should also engage themselves in recycling.

” i would advice you start publicity through congregation, it would help a lot in sending the message across,”he said.

Chanja Datti is committed to transforming waste to value with an increasing demand to rid the environment of non-biodegradable waste materials.

Stop don’t Drop seeks a green trash free environment.

 

 

Connecting The Dots: The 2016 Global Media Forum in Bonn

Oludotun Babayemi June 21, 2016 0

The internet must protect human right and privacy…The internet must give people access to education and opportunities for participation, it should be a place where people can gather information and make their voices heard. This give rise to project such as the Nigerian Follow The Money initiative which was presented here yesterday. The initiative monitor whether aid money really reaches its destination. Team members go to the villages and follow up on the promises made by the politicians. They publish their findings in easy to understand diagrams on their website” – Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Corporation and Development, in his keynote address at the Global Media Forum

“I forget my name, I forget my dreams, maybe we do not have a lot of power because we are nothing, but sometimes a nothing man can change a lot” these mix of Words on Piano of Aeham Ahmad, 28 years old, from the streets of Yarmouk Camp in Syria who now lives in Germany keep lingering in my heart as another forum to discuss media, freedom and values kick starts in Bonn Germany. On the count, this will be the seventh global conference honouring our Follow The Money work.

In recent times, media organizations have been battling with innovating their newsrooms,as,challenges of its freedom and values has always resonated around newsrooms Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. Much reason why the Annual Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany held between June 13 – 15 had its theme around this challenges and opportunities, and welcoming 2,000 participants including media CEOs, journalists, academics, artistsentrepreneurs from 110 countries

“We need to rethink the way in which we perceive, demonstrate and spread our values.” With those words, DW Director General Peter Limbourg opened the Global Media Forum in Bonn on Monday, June 13, 2016. Looking at the long list of exceptional speakers for the event, it asserts to me that we are living in the midst of communications revolution that is already having significant effects on democracy, and as such, it will be pertinent to instill our values as journalists, or “content creators” to research with due diligence, copy after checking the facts, stop scandalizing every harmless occurrence, and make reference to sources of credible information.

Pocket FM Radio was on the side stands. Visit them at http://www.pocket-fm.com/

Pocket FM Radio was on the side stands. Visit them at http://www.pocket-fm.com/

Our values are greatly important especially as enemies of freedom of speech increases across borders. From Turkey clamping down on newsrooms who are highlighting to the world,the human right abuses of the regime; to Nigeria, where a legislature is sponsoring a bill that infringes on the freedom of speech; to Maldive government arresting journalists. This is becoming a challenge to democracy as the “fourth pillar of democracy” is becoming threatened.

Suffice to say that the forum was a congregation of media enthusiast living everyday with the believe that the media (be it the new or the traditional) would continue to serve as a watchdog for democracies, even as press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years, and 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press, according to the Freedom House 2016 report

Most of the thoughts from speakers ranges from how media organizations can start innovating their newsrooms; privacy and security, violence against women and children, the US presidential elections, migration issues in Europe, and the relationship between media and policy makers.

Actually, I was thrilled when participants asked what the relationship of Follow The Money was, with the government of Nigeria during the panel on digital innovations coordinated by the DW Akademie. “Always flat and parallel” I have answered, as only few state agents will embrace a watchdog initiative, that demeans the bureaucracy within government institutions. Maybe that might changed in the near future, I will sure be excited!

The Panel on Standing up for Human Rights: Digital Innovations

The Panel on Standing up for Human Rights: Digital Innovations source:DW

It was not only three days of discussions, I like the fact that every closing of the day is met with social gatherings long enough for networking, meeting old friends, and chatting new courses, as well.This time around, I enjoyed the food because special considerations were given to we chicken and meat eaters,still not yet a veggie, not sure I will be one. Talking about closing, Christiana Figueres. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) speech on ‘the role of the media’ was truly exceptional as it shaken the power of the pens that break news event “You should not just inform people on and about events, you as journalist, or content producers, should use your privilege to use news to connect the dots, to point out to the public the ramifications, and implications of the news event” Figueres said

Certainly, the freedom we all enjoy as information users are threatened, every day, as the connection with the world gets smaller and thinner, and digital technologies open our doors, to every form of air – with 6 in 7 people leaving in countries where they cannot express information, and ideas freely. Nevertheless, the lens and pens’ attitude to become impartial and objective will remain pertinent, and the words from Bonn will linger – sometimes a nothing man can change a lot, one time the peace will come if we can connect the dots!  

[CLICK] to view all pictures from the Global Media Forum

[CLICK] to Listen to all sessions from the Global Media Forum

DW Director General Peter Limbourg opens the Global Media Forum in Bonn:

Hamzat Lawal June 14, 2016 0

“The end of the freedom of expression is also the beginning of the end of democracy”

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are increasingly facing limitations the world over; in order to counter the culture of disinformation and manipulation, “We need to rethink the way in which we perceive, demonstrate and spread our values.” With those words, DW Director General Peter Limbourg opened the Global Media Forum in Bonn on Monday, June 13, 2016.

Limbourg greeted more than 2,000 guests from over 100 countries, including representatives from a number of partner broadcasters, at the ninth annual media conference from the German international broadcaster. The topic of the three-day conference is “Media. Freedom. Values.”

“Only when people are able to communicate freely, there will be change. The possibility to share ideas and values with others and the chance to inspire those, who are still under the control of dictatorial regimes,” said the Director General.

Deutsche Welle has positioned itself on a path to digitalization – and drawn upon more than 4,000 partners from around the world. Part of this strategy includes co-productions with partners to the benefit of both parties. “This is a first in international broadcasting. And an important step in recognizing the value of the contribution of regional partners,” said Limbourg. “We truly appreciate the local expertise and perspective which our regional partners contribute.”

Limbourg lamented the state of affairs in which instead of preserving the universal prestige of the right to speak one’s mind, in increasingly more countries, limitations are being placed on laws protecting freedom of expression. He cited Turkey, where critical media personalities are being suspended by members of President Erdogan’s governing party, where unwelcome journalists are labeled terrorists, without grounds, and being thrown in prison. “In the heart of the EU, freedom of the press cannot be taken for granted,” said the Director General. With an eye cast on the national-conservative powers in Hungary and Poland, Limbourg said, “But nothing – and I stress – nothing – justifies a limitation of the freedom of expression to be rooted within a democratic constitution.”

Limbourg referred to the example of Germany. “Even here in Germany, the enemies of the freedom of the press are at work.” Right-wing populists of all shapes have problems with tolerance and with a diversity of opinion, he said.

Journalists themselves can endanger freedom of the press. “If they don’t research with due diligence, if they copy without checking the facts, or if they scandalize every harmless occurence. Because thus, they provide arguments to their enemies,” said Limbourg.

Limbourg closed with the statement, “The end of the freedom of expression is also the beginning of the end of democracy. There are simply no more excuses when this point is reached. Each and every one of us is called upon, to stand up and demand the freedom of expression loud and clear.”