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