The Social Change Summit in Lagos: Attracting Resources to Address Nigeria Social Challenges

Oludotun Babayemi 24 June 2016 0

For some of you that are familiar with the Lagos mainland, when you say you are going to Yaba, it means you are going shopping just by the railway. In the 19th century, Yaba was known as the host of a railway garage market where Lagosians buy “second – hand clothings”. Digitalization in the 21st century has rewritten the narrative of the town to the technology hub of Nigeria.” We now have 60 technology companies in and around Yaba, this is something fascinating for us, as it was only us and the University of Lagos. When we moved here in 2012” Bosun Tijani, the CEO of Co – Creation Hub affirmed in his opening remarks for the 2016 Social Change Summit.

Amidst several tensions in the country, on June 23, 2016 about 80 participants gathered around the popular Herbert Macaulay space of Co – Creation Hub to discuss how to attract talent, resources and creativity to address Nigeria’s most pressing social challenges. I might not be right, but it seems the event greatly focused on Media and Digital Innovations. And why not? Every conference now have that word – innovation! Whenever you are in Lagos, you must innovate to get to events early, exactly what I did, by flagging a motorbike rider, to get me to the event, all the way from Ikeja! Please don’t inform Ambode, I only wanted to avoid the painstaking Lagos traffic, and remember, I came from Abuja.

The hall was enlivened by the keynote speech of Ibukun Awosika, the Chairman First Bank Group, who to me appeal more to the female gender, as I observe closely all the female entrepreneurs, in the room, nodding to every of her lines. Maybe, I am the one that is not a female activist, but the good news was that her thoughts on rethinking a was quite electric. “When they ask you for your state of origin, erase it, and add your state of residence, likewise we should start thinking of how we have our talents come together to start up innovative solutions to our growing problems” Awosika mentioned. But is Nigeria really taken apart by the about three hundred and sixty something tribes in the country. She further said “There are three hundred and something tribes in Nigeria, so can you create three hundred and seventy something nation’s, leave out Yoruba, Igbo,Hausa, and all & become a true Nigeria, infact the things we do now cannot take us to where we are going as a Nation, we must change the status quo”.

The second keynote, which was on independent media as a catalyst for social change, was given by Stephen King and Ory Okolloh of Omidyar Network. Imagine, this is the third event in 2 weeks that I will be attending, in which the media is been referred to as the pillar of social change. Shouldn’t this be a concern for media organizations in the country? I am still watching and waiting for new innovative TV channels that can stand and surpass Channels TV. However, let it not sound like I am a TV fan, I do YouTube more than TV, and also a radio fan, especially at peak hours. “Independent media should leverage on opportunities embedded in the use of local languages, and content that citizens can easily relate with, an example is Wazobia FM and Urban FM” Ory Okolloh asserts. Truthfully, I am in love with the way Wazobia FM relates with its audience, a real game changer in the broadcast industry in Nigeria, but I am an advocate of market competition, as such we will need more of Wazobia FM’s.

Inasmuch as we welcome this burgeoning outfits, challenges in sustaining the opportunities that are available in this space remain enormous. One would not easily forget the reputable NEXT Newspaper which started in 2008 and ceased publication in September 2011 owing to advert shortage due to government influence on advertisement space in its print. Afterwards NEXT, was Premium Times, a leading online news, and investigative journalism platform, created 2011 in Nigeria.In order for investors and media practitioners to understand key constraints and opportunities that drive this media innovation,Omidyar Network and Reboot published a report on accelerating development & good governance in the new media landscape which highlighted opportunities in the independent media. You should read this if you are interested in starting or strengthening your independent media

No doubt, talents are scarce, and entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to recruit talent as reported in the  Global Entrepreneurship Research 2016 Watch out for my reaction to the report in my next post.With several panel discussions during the Social Change Summit, it was resolved that entrepreneurs should not recruit based on only compensation, but should think on making talents climb the ladder as a leader, after all talent is one thing, and leadership is another. “Sometimes what you need is knowledge,and not more finance” suggests Paul Okeogo, the Chief Operating Officer at Chocolate City. Many times you need knowledge on managing a team, and growing your startup to scale, most of which you can leverage from your peers, funders and prospective funders. To become sustainable as well, you will need knowledge on monetizing your ventures by creating content that your audience can relate with. “You don’t just think you have an idea, and you can throw it to the market, you must know who are your audience by segmenting your market” advised Abiola Alabi, owner of Biola Alabi Media, and former Managing Director at M-NET Africa.

Forget it, the Lagos market is huge, and that’s why it houses 20 million Nigerians, but for some of us, that grew up in the city, it can be tiring at times, and now that we do not leave in the city anymore, it’s difficult for us to wait till conferences or summit like this finishes. Before 5pm, my motor bike man came calling “oga it’s 5 pm we should enter the road now, you know say hold up go don dey build up” when you are in Lagos you know what that means. Four days in Lagos looks like it was 1 month, but really it was worth the time!


How Data Journalism Might Halt Feeding Peanuts to Journalists

Oludotun Babayemi 20 February 2016 0

On the week of 8 – 12th and 15 – 19th in February 2016 in Abuja, I facilitated training on tracking government spending with 16 producers of popular current affairs programmes and 16 news editors from the broadcast media in a BBC Media Action supported capacity building for journalists. Nothing can be more exciting than igniting journalists passion to innovate their newsrooms, and also participating at this training were facilitators from BudgIT (One of the leading organizations using technology to hold government accountable) and Premium Times (An online media organization disrupting the media terrain in Nigeria).


No doubt, journalism is one of the profession that has young and vibrate women, and as confirmed the participants had a balance of gender, unlike other training have facilitated, that gender is always skewed towards the male. 60% of the participants had contact with the computer in the middle of the last decade, at the advent of Facebook, and just at the exit of and, Certainly, our participants this time should be conversant with the new technologies. Were they? I will say yes, at least they are familiar with their newsroom consoles, Twitter and Facebook.


Cross section of participants at one of the training batch


Other than their console, they were exposed to data journalism tools that can be leveraged on in scraping government budget data, from the conversion of PDFs to Excel using ,Tabula and WebScraper. But one thing that remains clear is that many times, we see the budget data, but actually do not know when the money on the budget will be spent. So, what does a journalist do in such case? I asked, and most knew they are always the first to know, as a press release is always issued to media houses, when these funds are approved or released. So journalist can scrape the press release and find useful information for tracking government expenditure, and thus making a story out of it. Another useful tool is Google Alerts which sends instant email of keywords that has earlier been subscribed to by the journalist.


We all agreed, that there is always a time difference between approval and release of funds, as such the time lag keeps the journalist inquiring, and keeping the story alive. So many at the training asked, what funds do we have to keep such stories alive, in a program or in the news? In the last six months, I have trained 62 journalists from the print media, and broadcast, the same question keep re-occurring, and this time, I was almost told to change the training topic to how to write funding proposals for data journalism. Perhaps, this can stop the popular “Kwa” mentalism!


Oludotun Babayemi, a School of Data Fellow takes journalist through overcoming challenges in the industry

Oludotun Babayemi, a School of Data Fellow takes journalist through overcoming challenges in the industry

As more of the traditional broadcasters are now moving into data journalism, many are still incapacitated due to media ownership, availability of knowledge resources, skill gaps and a peer review center where knowledge can be exchanged on the go. Each of these training always draw us up to the solution, perhaps, as Connected Development [CODE] is working on its citizen lab for activists and journalists, it will be better placed to tackle some of this challenges.


As someone who has a background in Information Management, I always appreciate the media, and those that stand by the consoles to inform Africa, and through this we believe the console can turn around, educate, inform and impact our society. With more data been churned out everyday, and more funding in the direction of data journalism, I look forward to taking another set of interaction on data journalism with 24 news editors from Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau, in April, let’s keep the consoles jingling!  

Democracy for the Fishes: A Tale of the Nigerian Legislative Arm!

Oludotun Babayemi 31 December 2015 0

Would it not be “okay” if the Nigeria National Assembly have 36 members in the upper and lower house, while it coordinates with the State house of Assembly members? and if you are still wondering where Nigeria stands amongst the league of democratic government, the #presidentialmediachat that President Muhammadu Buhari kickstarted on Wednesday, December 30, 2015, just a day before the end of the year, sums it all up, and not just that, it gave directions on the functions of the pillars of democracy. The 2 hours chat left me imagining the number of sacrifices the citizens will have to make before the 170 million Nigerians can achieve the USD 82,763 GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) that Singapore currently enjoys.


So if citizens are ready to sacrifice, what sacrifice will the legislative arm make? With 115 billion Naira appropriated for the legislative arm in 2016, and in it, was a purported 4.7 billion Naira car purchase that was justified by the Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume! Might be ridiculous, I guess?Certainly, we would not need a prophet to tell us Nigeria doesn’t need this expensive legislative arm, however it has been argued that the Nigerian legislative arm enjoys the least salary and allowances amongst the league of countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Philippines and Singapore.This argument would have been justified if the Human Development Index of Nigeria is well better than these countries.



Truth be told, we cannot measure up to them, and our GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) cannot substantiate such argument, so why would it not be right that we should run a part -time legislative arm and use the amount saved to invest in teacher training, or provide befitting living environment for health attendants that has turned ghost workers in Northern Nigeria health facilities, and we can look at more alternatives as described by Premium Times here.


When an agent of the state foot drags to become open, just like the National Assembly of Nigeria has been doing, even with at BudgIT’s campaign around #OpenNASS, it is indeed shying away from being democratically accountable. So what can or should happen? Ngozi Anyaegbulam of Media Watch International asked the President, if the Budget of the legislative arm passed through his table, and if he approved it after seeing the lump sum of 115 billion Naira (USD 577 million). His response was not convincing, and he clearly stated that you can only use the judiciary to actualize a reversal, and that it is still feasible to revisit the budget with the legislators. But there is the other pillar of democracy – the civil societies that needs to intervene and help the president.


As 2015 rolls by, we have seen #OpenNASS keeping the legislatures on their toes to make – not only their budget open, but also open how they spend Nigeria tax payers money, likewise the #SayNoToSocialMediaBill which hopes to put a halt to the Bill (To prohibit frivolous petitions, and other matters therewith) that is about to gag free speech via radio, text messages, and the social media. 2016 kicks in with more challenges for the citizen, just as fishes feeds under the seas, so also the legislative arm will continue to do, except organizations like BudgIT, Premium Times, CODEEnough Is Enough, Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), Policy and Legacy Advocacy Center (PLAC) strengthen their collaboration, seek judicial implications for starting a campaign like #StopSenatorsCar to stop the exegesis of the legislatures, initiate civic – legislative engagements and demand responsiveness from the government, then – we can say we have #SackedtheSenate. Sack who? Yes, and the 35 state house of representatives that seem elusive. As we connect in 2016, like Phyno’s connect that am listening to right now – We might #NeverSettle until that fish seller (on the featured image) at Utako Market enjoys the real “dividends of democracy”