Raising The Bar High for SDG4 in Nigeria

Hamzat Lawal February 10, 2017 2

It was a long week as we received an invitation from the Sustainable Development Goal Department of the Federal Ministry of Education (FME – SDGs Office) to witness the reviewing of the instrument for the monitoring of 2016 SDGs Projects in Nigeria.

We were invited to be an independent participator in the event, representing Civil Society Organization in the event owing to the fact that Education is one of our thematic areas.

As the lead investigator on Education for our Follow The Money project, it is a part of my responsibilities to be part of the event. On getting to the event centre, they just created a registration sheet to represent NGOs in which my name was the first on the list as they are not expecting more of Civic organisations.

In her introduction, Mrs AAA Liman stated that the essence of the event is to bring agencies and departments together to review the monitoring and evaluation instrument that has been in use by the SDGs in order to upgrade it to international standards after which she passed the baton to the Director of the Unit.

In her own words, the Director said that she has to be in the event since monitoring has been a thing of her heart as the motto of the Department is “Raising the Bar”. She gave a background to the present monitoring framework of the department and said it has been in existence since 2009 when it was first developed for monitoring of SDGs projects in Nigeria and further explained that they would love to review it so as to make it a tool that will be in tune with present happenings in the world.

On her endnote, she concluded by saying “our goal is to come out with an instrument that will meet international standards and can be used by all agencies and departments”.

In his word, Hamzat Lawal said this event will shape Education in Nigeria as the instruments will provide a framework for monitoring of the implementation of the Education funds meant for the schools in the grassroots and also, this will be a guide for other MDAs and also, it will be good for transparency and accountability in government projects in Nigeria.

The event lasted almost the whole day as each item and options were reviewed by all the agencies working on education SDGs in Nigeria. Some items stayed the same while significant others were reviewed thoroughly. After which the event finally came to an end.

I was awed by the action taken by the FME-SDGs as it shows how passionate some civil servants are with their job and the well being of the people they are working for given that the civil service space is filled with many misappropriations and negligence of work. Only if we can have more agencies like this in Nigeria, the government would function better and maybe corruption would be drastically reduced. These are my thoughts and I hope to see more of such happening in Nigeria.



Hamzat Lawal February 7, 2017 1

A wise man once told me that it makes little or no sense to sit back and bemoan the state of things, the best way to get real change is to go out and ACT! In other words, if you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.

This past year, working in the health advocacy circle has been a journey of some sorts. I remember taking the health campaigns for an increase in the health budget and the implementation of the National Health Act to one of the rotary clubs in Abuja and during the session, one of the club members asked a question that really got me thinking. He asked “say we eventually get all these monies we are asking for, how do we ensure that the funds will be properly implemented, the monies been allocated presently, how are they being utilized?”

It is no secret that we have a major problem of implementation in Nigeria; we are always among the first countries to ratify treaties and sign international conventions. But when it comes to implementation, naa-da!

The innovative ways CODE is tracking funds meant for capital projects in rural communities is an excellent way to ensure that Nigerians get what they deserve. What better way to eliminate extreme poverty from Nigeria and the world at large than ensuring that funds meant for the construction of Primary Healthcare Centers in rural communities are properly utilized so that people do not have to spend more money out of pocket to treat basic illnesses? Or ensuring that funds meant for the provision of basic amenities such as pipe borne water in rural communities are properly and fully utilized so that girls do not have to go long distances to fetch water and they can instead spend that time in school? Or ensuring that funds meant for providing basic amenities for education in rural communities are properly and adequately utilized?

It is important that in addition to advocating for increase in allocation of funds in areas of social development such as health, education and environment, we should also find ways to track how these funds are being implemented- this is what CODE does and I am excited to be part of the team.

In my first few days, I have come to understand that young people in Nigeria are becoming more interested in how they are governed and how resources are being utilized. You hear cases of young men (and women) spending multiple days in transit, all in a bid to reach the remotest communities to track capital projects’ expenditures. Some of these communities are almost forgotten by the general public and indeed the government. In fact, some lawmakers representing some of these communities do not even know that they exist talk less of even visiting them to know what their needs are or even ensure that they get what is due them.

These young people who are willing to risk their lives as a way of contributing to national development give us reason to hope and believe that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel as long as you and I do our parts in ensuring accessibility, transparency and accountability in capital projects’ expenditures.

Celestina is a Project officer at Connected Development. She spends her time writing and volunteering in organisations that work in development and health. She tweets via @Celna4all (https://twitter.com/)

What Next After Remediation of Shikira and the Minister Visitation?

Hamzat Lawal January 27, 2017 0

On 22nd of January 2017 our team was informed of the expected visitation of the Minister of Environment to Shikira community to access the work done so far. To us, it was a surprised at first because it was on a Sunday, but also we think this is how the government should work which the Amina Mohammed Administration showed to us that the government could follow the money themselves too rather than doling millions out on a project without clear monitoring and evaluation criteria to assess the situation of the project.

Indeed between our last visit in August 2016 and 22nd of January, we have seen some changes in Shikira Community as the first phase of the remediation is finished and the second phase which was the last stage would be kickstarted in a matter of weeks.

The first phase includes the removing of contaminated top soils and spreading of clean soils to restore the soil to the way it was before the lead poisoning saga. The removed top soil was dumped in a temporary dumping site which will then be buried with clay soil coating in a low water level soil.

Observation on Phase One

  • The lead-contaminated soil is in the dumping site for now and it will soon be buried at a site which will be identified in few weeks time after a deep geological test by the approved personnel.
  • The compounds and soils that were once tested lead positive have been remediated with 400 – 405ppm lead level which the US EPA standard is 400.
  • The children are already undergoing treatment by the MSF (Doctors Without Borders Team) and they have started playing around again; though the treatment is still ongoing.
  • The only medical facility in the community has been renovated and it now has toilets, water, and medical personnel though none was found on the job when we visited.
  • The MSF team and the State Ministry of Environment have started a safer mining training for the artisanal miners in the community.
  • The community engagement is ongoing so as to avoid reoccurrence of such event and how to take precautionary steps towards lead poisoning.

What the challenge of the community is 

They need water as they are presently fetching water in more than 20 miles away from their community and the water is not safer as it might likely be contaminated with lead too. Simba Tirima of the MSF said we cannot say we are remediating this community without providing them water as that was part of what cause the contamination in the first instance. If we are to be done finally with this remediation, we must provide water for them so they won’t have to go back to the water that was contaminated.

Lead Contaminated soil Waiting to be Buried

What is left to be done

  • The community with the state Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Solid Minerals & Mining is to provide a plot (50×100) of land with low water level for the team to bury the contaminated soils.
  • The site would be fenced with a restricted area inscription so that the people in the community won’t dug it up later after the contaminated soils have been buried.
  • The community would be provided with water source/s
  • There will be a geological test to identify a low water levelled soil to bury the contaminated excavated soils.

Our reaction

We are calling on the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed to consider handling the project to the hand of trusted officials as she will soon be leaving office so that the monies earmarked for the second phase which is as important as the first phase won’t go missing as there have been some cases of likely misappropriation of the fund by some cabals within the Ministry.

Also, the Follow The Money team is thanking the minister for her due diligence, professionalism and vigilance on the #SaveShikira Campaign, her actions gives us more hope that the government can be transparent and responsible when called on by the people. And we also congratulate her on her new position in the UN.


Hamzat Lawal December 20, 2016 0

Dear Honourable Minister,

I wish to use this medium to congratulate you on your appointment as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. It is an honour well-deserved. It is also an elevation that naturally stirs mixed feelings in some of us who are very much aware of what Nigeria stands to miss in your absence.

So far, you have distinguished yourself as not only a dynamic Minister of the Federal Republic, but a hard-working development worker for the people. At a time the nation yearned for deep understanding of its environmental challenges, you brought the insight and hands-on feminine balance that enabled this great country get back on its ecological track in order to retain its pride in the comity of nations.

As an adviser to the Federal Government on Nigeria’s implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the precursor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), you drove the programme efficiently and attained high points in critical set targets. This of course prepared you for your esteemed role in negotiating the seventeen SDGs under the outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and effectively stood you out as an asset to the development world.


Likewise, the passion and patriotism you have displayed in your duties as a minister, have now engraved your name in the annals of history. This is because the commitment you brought to the job is based on your inherent capabilities and ingrained capacity acquired over the years in your service to society.

Your stewardship is now evident. Nigeria has launched the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Ministry of Environment has also successfully launched the historic Sovereign Green Bonds – first of its kind; flagged off the Ogoni Clean-up Programme; and streamlined the Great Green Wall programme for a focused and sustainable implementation.

Dear Minister, in spite of the pleasure we find in celebrating your value and landmark achievements, we are still perturbed by the nagging fear that your efforts may yet be in vain if the solid foundation you are laying in the sector is not capped with a seamless transition to sustainable pillars of continued progress, as you move on to your new international office.

This is why we also use this opportunity to draw your attention to some real issues that when properly addressed, would spell the survival lines to this all-important sector, and to the country in general.

Firstly, we are conscious of the fact that your tenure as the Minister of Environment brought a lease of life to the energy efficiency sub-sector, and effectively cleared the foul and dark aura already engendered by the Clean Cookstoves saga. Presently, you have set a fresh course that promises to reignite hope in the achievement of the goals that inspired the project in the first place.

Therefore, we call on you to set a lasting template that would sustain the momentum of the clean cookstoves project, even in your absence. We hope your efforts would help ensure that government delivers on the statutory 15% from the Ecological Fund, while also inspiring the ambition and bureaucratic urgency needed to deliver on the project.

Secondly, we can never forget that your motherly intervention and tireless activism impacted positively on the success of the ongoing Shikira lead poisoning remediation project. However, having assessed the progress of the cleanup, we are convinced that the project has to go beyond just remediation, but also a sustainable structure for ecological management. This is in order to ensure that there is no future outbreak of lead poisoning in Shikira and in other communities involved in artisanal mining.

Thirdly, we are worried that if the proper systemic adjustments are not made in the ministry of environment, we may lose some of the critical milestones achieved under your watch. This is why we call on you to effectively utilize the remaining few months you have to work in Nigeria in strengthening the structures that would ensure that in the absence of a good driver like you that the vehicle does not crash into the bushes. We sincerely pray that things will never deteriorate to “business as usual!”

We wish to see that the ball you have set rolling maintains the momentum, because we are convinced that the environmental sector is the fulcrum of the development sector especially in a developing economy like ours.

For instance, Nigeria’s NDC is an ambitious document, which needs imaginative inter-sectoral engagements for its effective implementation. With the vast opportunities that lie within the NDC and the potential complications that could entangle our bureaucratic infrastructure, we are concerned that, in fact, not just any hands can take over the helms at the ministry of environment.

How we wish, you could groom your own successor! Fourthly, we also cannot forget the fact that two critical regions in Nigeria are directly affected by your present and future offices: the South South and the North East. The Ogoni Clean-up project which you successfully initiated needs a proper and sustained project implementation.

The social dislocation that has erupted as a result of the humanitarian emergency in the North East also waits for your intervention. We humbly call on you to use your esteemed position as the UN Deputy Secretary-General to redirect the eyes of the world to the region. This would not only entail getting the required international support for humanitarian aid, but most importantly in ensuring that transparency and accountability are mainstreamed in their disbursements.

Finally, conscious of the importance of your UN appointment not only to Nigeria but to Africa as a region, we are hopeful that you will utilize the platform to inspire a revived spirit of transparent democratic governance, which we believe is the only effective way to address the region’s development challenges. And, we are glad that your experience in the development of the SDGs will also give you the fillip to inspire a proper mainstreaming of its implementation process in Africa.

Then, ultimately, we hope that you spearhead Nigeria’s bid to becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We are convinced that you have a date with history, and would have stamped your name in gold in the annals of history if you could work with your new boss to reorganize the UN and make it more democratic by increasing the Permanent membership of the Security Council. History will remember you if Nigeria fills Africa’s slot in the new arrangement, in order to reward our great country’s half-a- century old contributions to the UN.


Hamzat Lawal
Chief Executive, CODE
Co-Founder, Follow The Money


Hamzat Lawal December 16, 2016 5

Global Rights organized a town hall meeting, which brought together stakeholders in Nigeria’s energy sector, including government, coal mining companies & their host communities, the media and civil society. The meeting was for a debate on coal in Nigeria’s energy mix considering the challenges the country suffers from energy deficit that is negatively affecting its socio-economic development and practically every other part of its national life. Because energy sources in Nigeria can no longer meet demand, the Federal Government, therefore proposed alongside with other sources to meet 30% of Nigeria’s energy local need demand from coal energy without considering the implication of utilizing coal as a source of energy in Nigeria.

Key Highlights from the Meeting:


Looking at an overview of global trend on coal energy, coal was accountable for emitting 14.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (C02). That is 44% of all energy associated carbon dioxide emissions and more than one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, no other energy source other than coal contributes as much greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, digging up coal to generate electricity stirs out emissions that escalate greenhouse effect and because coal is pure carbon, it is one of the enormous sources of climate change. However, coal is burned to manufacture heat and electricity that emits a lot of CO2 along with some quantities of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20). (Friends of the Earth International, COAl ATLAS 2015).

Usually, producing electricity from coal is harmful to the climate, most gas powered plants releases only half as much as carbon dioxide as modern coal-fired power stations. This is why most coal mining companies in advanced countries are shutting down because of the enormous effect it has on the environment and health of the people which in turn will adversely affect sustainable development.

(Okobo Community Traditional Rulers explaining the ordeal they are facing)

Nigeria really need to consider the concept of trade-off, looking at the cost of ownership which covers short term benefit and long term cost. As a coal mining company in Okobo community in Kogi State is already affecting the people and their sources of livelihood.

Nigeria’s proposed utilization of 30% of coal is definitely going to jeopardize our commitment to the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement. Focusing on coal as energy source will only give us short term benefit and long term cost, as a country we should look at other sources of energy which will benefit us more in the long run.

In addition, the Federal government of Nigeria could consider cleaner alternatives to coal such as windmill energy: which is dependent on available wind, has no impact on landscape and no emission of carbon dioxide, Biomass energy: from wood, crops, landfill gas, alcohol fuels and garbage. By using biomass in power production instead of fossil fuel, C02 emissions are significantly reduced. Hydro power plants have a long economic life with no fuel cost and lastly solar energy which is the fastest growing renewable energy source. All these are cleaner and achievable sources of energy which we could take as a country to meet our energy demand.


How I Designed my Way to ODP16

Hamzat Lawal December 2, 2016 0

Open Data Party (ODP) is a quarterly event initiated by Connected Development (CODE), meant to expose experts from different fields to gain hands-on experience on the use of data to make an informed decision. The last ODP took place in Kano on November 22 – 23, 3016 and I was  part of the team  to make things run smoothly.

“Don’t you think someone from CODE needs to be in Kano ahead of time to monitor the situations before the core team and other out-of-town participants starts arriving”, asked Oludotun Babayemi – I will go, that was my reply to him and he asked me more than 3 times if I meant my answer considering the fact that I just arrived  from the United States of America (USA) 3 days earlier from an assignment to observe the USA general election in Colorado.

I packed my bag on 20th of Nov which was a Sunday and head straight to Kano, my arrival was at night, I lodged in a hotel and reflecting on how to start the next day which is the eve of the event.

The week from 20th to 25th was a busy week for all of us at CODE as we are also having NASS event that same week and we have to split ourselves to grace all the event, also our finance officer fell ill  as she was on drug throughout the week, and I was left with some of her functions while also planning the event.

Monday 21st came so fast than I had expected, I rushed out of bed and went straight to freshen up before moving to eHealth Africa (EHA) Office in the ancient city of Kano where the event was slated to hold, I worked all day planning and strategizing  with the EHA staffs (energetic people like Ayodele and Olajumoke) on  logistics and accommodations before the participants will arrive  in Kano.

The first day of the event graced the most important session of the event with versatile facilitators from EHA and outside. I was more captivated by the session on mobile data collection by Nonso of Reboot as it does not just discuss data collection but design processes and thinking is a whole fraction of his session. I cannot believe I took the class twice.

“We are all designers” said Nonso at the beginning of his session, every participant was quizzed including myself at the beginning of the session but I got to learn more by the time he explained what he meant.

One way or the other, we all design our way to wherever we find ourselves, coming to Kano on 20th instead of rushing to come on 21st is a design well thought of by the team back in Abuja and it paid us in full by the end of the event.

The agenda for both days of the events is well thought of and it was one of the most efficient designs as both the participants and the facilitators are put into considerations which made the event a lot of successes with a turnout of more than 100 participants in both the 1st and the 2nd day of the event.

I end up connecting with more people and getting to meet physically with the community reporters whom we have always been meeting only but online. “Are you Tunde, you mean you are Sharru Nada?” those are the questions I was asked the most  of them.

The event ended with a mapping session by the EHA GIS department guys as we are all walked through mapping of Chibok in Borno State (I cannot believe we just mapped Chibok).

Tunde Adegoke Presenting the new iFollowTheMoney Platform to the participants

Tunde Adegoke Presenting the new iFollowTheMoney Platform to the participants


I also facilitated a session on our new platform which we aim to use as a medium to reach out to more people to follow the money together.

Though the platform is still in its infancy stage, the growth has been exponential since it was launched and our team is working more on using the platform to domesticate our follow the money project in the whole country with a vision to expand to other African countries.

The ODP16 is gone but the knowledge gain and the connections made are far expanding by the day, I cannot wait for the next 2017 version of it as I look forward to learning more as the year goes on.

With projects like School of Data Radio and ODP, I believe the challenges that follow #OpenData which is usability can be solved to some extent if organizations like CODE, EHA can work more on reaching out to more prospective data users and other organizations who are still sitting on the fence can leverage on the success of the event and build more capacity around data knowledge.

If you are interested in following the money, you can request an invites HERE

The Art of Electioneering in USA; The Colorado Experience

Hamzat Lawal November 28, 2016 14

On the 1st of November, the Connected Development [CODE] delegate for the United State of American election observation left for Nigeria for Denver, Colorado which I was part of.

The mission was sponsored by International Institute of Education (IIE) through a recommendation from Ford Foundation for the sole aim of using the experience to influence the Electoral Reform of the Country which was ongoing by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by making a recommendation about what was observed in the USA.

Colorado was chosen by our delegate due to the fact that the state is one of the 3 frontline states in the USA  using an All Mail Ballot System of voting which is an entirely new concept to our Democracy and Governance Unit.  CODE delegates arrived Denver on the 2nd of November by 05:30pm while still awed by the long travel and the ambience that was called the American dream.  

State of Colorado

From right, Colorado Secretary of State, Emmanuel Njoku, Tunde Adegoke and the Director of Election, Judd Choate

We met with the Secretary of State (SoS) of Colorado  on Thursday November 3rd to have a briefing Judd Choate, the Director of Election for the State and he walked us through all the processes of election in the state and took his time to answer all of our questions regarding elections  in the state of Colorado.

Planning is a very important part of the election in Colorado as the process is well thought of and every concern and loopholes were well solved even before the election as for them, it is more of everyday work to make sure all votes counts and all voices are heard in the state as there processes are grouped into 5 main parts discussed below.

After the meeting with the Judd, he gave us a letter which we are to present at any of the Election Division offices we wish to observe in, he later describes where the Denver Election Division office is in which we head straight to.

On reaching the office, we are asked to register first and we are introduced to the Senior Public Information Officer of Denver Election Division in the person of Alton P. Dillard II, he took us through all the offices and explained all the processes to us.

The Senior Public Information Officer of Denver Election Division, Alton Dillard II, taking our team on a tour of the Election Division Office

The Senior Public Information Officer of Denver Election Division, Alton Dillard II, taking our team on a tour of the Election Division Office

It is to be noted that Colorado started early voting even before we arrived the State, that made us witness the process of sorting, verification, tabulation and counting of the ballots as it is a continuous process.

The election division office who handle the election in Denver County has 5 processes which are;

  • Ballot Receiving: This is where the ballot is received by the election officers who went to the field to collect the ballots from the drop off points which Denver has 26 of and the workers comprises of 1 democrats, 1 republican and 1 non-party affiliates who are all paired together to take the ballots from the drop off points and the mailboxes in the county. It is to be noted here that the election division recruited the workers in which most of them have been working with the election division offices before. The team is paired for the purposes of transparency in the election process. This is not a practice common to only Denver election division but that is how it is being done in other counties too.
  • Ballot Verification: This is the next unit after the receiving room, they take care of the verification of ballots before it moves to the next stage and just like the first point (1), the workers here too are paired together too for transparency sake. This room has a bigger machine which takes care of the verification and it also contains workers who do some few manual verifications which the machine could not do. It is also to be of note here that what is being verified is the voters signature which was compared to what they have in the database of the election register database of the voters.
  • Ballot Preparation Room: This is the 3rd stage which the ballot passed through and there are more than 4 machines here and just as all other steps, there are also paired together and there is little human works here too.
  • Counting Room: This room is two in one as it also contains the Counting Room and the Tabulation room which is the last stage, this is where the ballot are being counted and it also contains some computers which take care of counting the results of the ballots. Here, there is a manual which was developed by the electoral team which helps them to reduce void votes to its barest minimum, if a ballot could not pass through this stage, then the voters can be called on to recast his or her votes. It is to be of note that all the systems in this room are hacker proof that none of the workstations is connected to the internet and perhaps an external device is connected to any of it, the whole workstations shut down immediately so as to repel any external system extrusion. The data was generated while counting is transferred to the next room which is why the room is a section of counting room.
  • The Tabulation Room: This room is only but a little part of the counting room and it is where the result come out as it is the last room which is where the result is being announced. The computers here get their feeds from the counting systems.

It is to be noted here that the ballots are being batched and sealed in each room before it moves to the next room and also, there is a copy physical copy of every electronic record so as to have a backup in case there is system breakdown in any of the processes. Also, each truck which are responsible for picking the ballots in each drop off points are being secured using cameras and there is also a security personnel in charge of it.

The fun fact here is that the database of the electoral board takes care of all the pressure and also the period of 21 days to vote makes it all simple to vote in Colorado.

The Registration Procedure:

The Colorado Secretary of State SoS office takes care of the election office as he is the one who hired the director of election and there is a plan in place which the SoS told our team that his aim is to make sure all that who are of election age all registered and get to vote during the election. They made the registration so seamless that the voters can register at their convenience online or at any designated voting centers across the state. You can register to vote in Denver County and vote in El Paso County. That makes it so easy to vote and made the aims of the office to come to fruition.

With only an ID, one who is of voters age can register and registration continues till the election day.

The Luncheon in Penrose House:

State of Colorado

Group picture of African Observers meeting with the El Pomar Foundation

Our Team was invited to a luncheon to Penrose House by the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs (El-Paso County) through the SoS office which was attended on the eve of the election day (7th of November). We met with the Chairman of the Board of the foundation with some of their team as well as some youths from Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa who all came to observe the election through a sponsorship by the foundation.

The event was fun and educative as I learned about giving back to one’s community and also get to meet with vibrant youths from other African countries too.

Just after we were addressed by the chairman, the secretary of state also address us too and also answered questions from us all and  briefed us about what their expectations were on the election day which is the next day. “We are expecting less than 700,000 voters tomorrow as we already have more than 2.5m votes who voted in the early voting period” confirmed the SoS.

After the event, we went straight to the El Paso County Election Division to see how things are being done too but we could not wait much as we have to catch a regional bus going back to Denver which we eventually missed and we have to take a Grey Hound back.

The Election Day

Election Day

A Voter Dropping his Ballot at the Drop Off point in Denver Election Division Office on the Election Day

Due to the experience back home, I was expecting to see the crowd on queues on this day. The crowd who came to vote, but how wrong was as the day was just like a typical day in Denver. It does not even look like there was any election holding as all were calm, no security forces everywhere, no queues, no touts and other vices that came with the election in Nigeria and other African countries. The Denver election division is open to media as they have a dedicated place for the media to plug their gadgets and cover the event live. We were told that media transparency is part of the processes of the election in Colorado and we are all given access to witness all the events as they unfold.

Election Day in Nigeria

Election Day in Nigeria

Despite the long 20 days already given to voters, some prefer to come to the division office to cast their votes which we all witnessed as they come in to do their voting.


Election and Instruction Materials are in 2 Languages - English and Spanish

Election and Instruction Materials are in 2 Languages – English and Spanish

The election materials are in both Spanish and English as they made sure that the two most popular languages in the state are captured and their votes counted. I was thinking out loud that why wouldn’t we have our election materials domesticated to our languages in Nigeria, and the thought of user-centered election material production came to mind. Well, maybe that could be future plans was what I finally concluded on.


  1. During the 2015 general election in Nigeria, it was all observed by the media in the country that the APC presidential candidates in person of Muhammed Buhari was being blackmailed and so much of hate publicity were leveled against him, and funnily – the same thing happened in the USA, the media was doing a wonderful work by painting the GOP candidate in person of Donald Trump black and so much hate publicity was also leveled against him. Some of his past words and actions were used against him and they kept on amplifying it on the media and that alone gave me so many concerns as I did understand that there is nothing as such a bad publicity.
  2. On arriving at the airport, the first guy we spoke with said “we do not know how both of them get the ticket to run for the election, you guys can take them both to Nigeria while going back as we don’t want them” also the guy who took us on Uber ride to Colorado springs said almost the same thing which was “both of them are disasters, I think Hilary is not real – she is fake and I just do not understand how she and Trump got the ticket, it seems we are all sleeping when they are doing their nominations for the party”


Just like in Nigeria election in 2015, the media made Buhari the winner as they kept on blowing his trumpet for him and as such the media made Trump the winner in USA election too. There is nothing as bad publicity they say, the more the media keep on mentioning his name, the more his message keeps sticking to the  subconscious mind of the voters and the more their brain is programmed with his name. As such, the will unconsciously vote for him and that was what happened as the decision process of who to vote for comes easily to them as what they have been hearing all along is Trump.


  1. The database is a very important component of the Colorado Election process as it acted as a shock absorber for all the election processes. And it aids the proper planning for them. INEC should work with JAMB, Banks (BVN) and other agencies who all have a  functional database to populate their own database and add more which they are not having to complete database of their own.
  2. Every county have their election division which is responsible for the election in their locality, the INEC should look to empowering all local government in Nigeria to be able to man their election themselves and INEC functions should be regionalised so as to create a hierarchical operating procedure for INEC so that the pressure would not always be in the Central office.
  3. The election is taken place in 21 days in the USA, INEC should try and be dynamic when it comes to election and stop trying to achieve everything in a day like it is being done. This will give all and sundry the time to cast their votes.
  4. Blue Book is produced by the Colorado Election Office which is a book which introduces all the candidates contesting the election. INEC should take the responsibility of publishing a book which will be introducing all the contestant which will inform the voters more about who they are to vote for.
  5. Election materials are domesticated in 2 languages in Colorado, INEC should make a pact or agreement with all other sectional offices who will domesticate the election materials to the languages of the people as they are the ones who will be voting.
  6. In terms of election education, more should be done to educate the voters so the process will be a more demystified one.
  7. Planning is a very important part of every election, each state should be responsible for voting activities in their individual state and state electoral laws should be encouraged in Nigeria so we can have a more transparent election.
  8. Ease of registration is very important, registrations should be placed in the people’s hand and locations and electors should not be limited by their polling units, everyone who registered in the same state should be able to vote in any polling units in the state.

The election  ended by 7pm on the 8th of November and the abstract voting results was called out by 9th which is not the official result as the united State of America has a rule that the canvas is the time which the election result will be made known to the public in which the canvas is to hold on 24th of November where all the election directors all come together to announce the election statistic in their individual divisions and the winner is not known until after the Electoral college vote which is usually by the party electoral college voters in each state depending on which party won which state.

Like in Colorado, there are 9 electoral colleges (EC) votes, Democrats won in Colorado and that implies that 9 EC is for democrats, and the representative of the democrats will be the one to vote in the electoral college vote come December. There are 538 EC votes in the whole USA, the candidates with 270 won the election which is usually being conducted after the general election.

The experience was a once in a lifetime event, and I am so grateful to all who made it possible, from the Secretary of State, the IRI, the Fords Foundations and the IIE. Without their support, this mission would have been a success.

We have started working on sharing the experiences we learned while observing the election and more posts will be published as a follow-up to this.

Nigeria Election Day Image Credit: Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

Earlier Post on The Exercise is Here

MARRAKECH COP 22: National Civil Society Consultative Forum at Heinrich Boll Hall, Abuja

Hamzat Lawal November 22, 2016 632

Climate change is a global issue that does not respect national border. Looking at the science behind climate change, we are not referring to weather; weather and climate change are not the same thing. Weather can change from season to season, even hour to hour and sometimes when you least expect it. In other words, weather reflects short-term conditions in the atmosphere while climate change on the other hand, refers to the average temperature and precipitation rates over a long period of time.

It was a wonderful time as several civil societies met at the Heinrich Boll Hall, Abuja to look at the way forward, since climate change has become an essential part of reality. Global warming is already having severe impact on our socio-economic development, human health, food, wildlife and ecosystems more than we can imagine. Furthermore, The Paris Agreement that was adopted last year during COP21 to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change comprises a landslide agreement in global efforts to mitigate climate change and also prepare countries through adaptive actions to reduce global warming below 20c.


The acting Director, Department of Climate Change of Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr. Peter Tarfa, gave a brief overview of what the Nigerian Government is doing to reduce the impact of climate change. He stated that government priority is on the issue of how to adapt to climate change impact, reduce deforestation and also create policy and strategies to help in reducing effect of climate change. National adaptation plan has been mapped out and the issues of capacity building, finance have been captured in the plan. However, Nigeria will observe annual knowledge fare on climate change by bringing expertise together with a theme that affect Nigeria; whereby everyone will bring out what they are doing in respect of climate change thereafter all will be put together to see how it can be used to address the issue.

In addition, government will also address the issues of assessing the global climate finance fund from international partners. In this regards, the Ministry of Environment climate finance desk have been given two years mandate to triple assess to global climate funds. However, Nigeria’s national climate policy requires policy intervention, it is due for review because it does not have current capacity to carry out the emerged climate change issues.


After the ratification of the Paris Agreement it became a commitment. The five major areas that are Nigeria’s priority are power, oil & gas, transportation, agriculture, and industry. Nigeria’s priority in COP22 are assessing the global climate finance, let the framework be available, to get international funding to loss and damages e.g. flooding and elements for Paris Agreement to be dished out. As we all know, the Minister of Environment mandate is to empower people, tackle climate change and protect the environment.


Press Release: Government Should Scale-Up Primary Health Care Service Delivery Nationwide

Hamzat Lawal November 16, 2016 0

A leading NGO Connected development [CODE] has called on government at all level to take up one of its responsibilities by ensuring proper facilities are put in place in various primary health care centers in Nigeria.

Following the release of $1.5million dollars from World Bank to the 36 states respectively including the Federal Capital Territory as part of the World Bank supported “Save One million Lives” the Follow the Money team of CODE visited 6 states respectively to assess the state of the PHCs to track the implementation of these funds. These states are Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kano, Kogi, Osun and Yobe.

Findings from the field visit to each of the states are appalling as most of the Primary Health Centres are facing several reprehensible and elementary challenges. Generically, most of them have no improved water supply, electricity, security, quarters for hospital staffers; there is no stationed doctor, and the toilet facilities are in a mess. Furthermore, because of these challenges, the PHCs do not operate 24/7, cannot admit or treat sick people and lack sufficient tables & chairs.

Some key Findings:

In Kano

Follow The money team visited Kantudu in Makoda LGA of Kano State. They found out that the PHC serves 2,500 people, all coming from 13 surrounding villages. The PHC was built 5-6 years ago as a senatorial project in Makoda LGA. The PHC has one male and female ward, which are not presently functioning. There are only three staffers with one community health worker who are not certified health professionals.


During the interactive section with the head of community Alhaji Muhammad Musa, and the community association said that they have reached out to the government of Kano twice on the state of the health centre in Kantudu, but there was no response. “We hope this campaign with ONE and CODE will make the government of Kano look at the plight of our health center so that our people can start using it” says Malam Ali, the medical head at the PHC.

In Yobe State

We were in Lantenwa, Yobe where a Primary Health Care is in a messy situation. The PHC in Lantenwa is in Lantewa village, Lantewa ward, Tarmuwa LGA. It serves a population of 13,400 under 5 yrs; 10-15 patients daily, 70-105 weekly. Speaking to the head community ,AuduLantewa, mentioned that the dispensary has been dilapidated for more than 7 years, he added that dispensary situation is critical and he personally reported the issue to local authorities several times. He further lamented that “Lantewa is the gathering centre of four neighbouring with approximately 7,000 registered voters, as such, we should get better things from the government” he said

In Kogi State

We went to the PHC to find out if the implementation of the fund is ongoing as well as to track the implementation of the N10.5 million earmarked by the National Primary Health care Development Agency for the rehabilitation of the PHC. On reaching there, there was no such intervention taking place. The Officer in Charge (OIC) said it was the first time she was hearing of such. The village head whom we paid a courtesy visit to also said he has never heard of such. We then went to the Operational Base of the NsitIbom LGA’s Health Centres and the Director of the base told us that she has never heard of such fund for the PHC’s rehabilitation30817372226_364e4ee1b1_n

In Osun State

Our team went on ground to track the $1.5m earmarked by the World Bank and the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Saving One Million Lives Initiative and all we could see while on the field is nothing to write home about. From our findings, the facility is meant to serve 11 villages which are: Gboore, Alajue-Logun, Asunmo, Ayegbami, Agbopa, Jagun-Odomu, Olodan, Aladie, Amosun, Seesa, Akiribiti amongst others. In total, the target population which the facility is meant to serve is 12,498. 498 of the population are children less than one year, the Primary Health Care Centre has a monthly target of 42 patients, but it ends up serving more than 400 on an average.

Consequently, a Freedom of Information letters was sent to the concerned government institutions and offices for a breakdown of the funds usage, implementation window and respective contractors, especially the governmental institutions concerned, to instantaneously start the implementation of these funds, ensure transparency & accountability in the funds’ implementation, and make government data open in line with the Open Government Partnership.

Follow The Money is a growing movement currently in 32 states of the country, held community outreaches to 10 primary health facilities in Kano, Yobe, Osun, and found out that all were in a state of dysfunction, even with the funds that have been released to the states to upgrade the primary health care “Most of the Clinic at the PHC in the 5 states that our community reporters visited were in an abandoned state, lacks basic healthcare amenities and needs urgent attention to serve people at local communities.” affirmed Hamzat Lawal, CODE’s Chief Executive & Co-Founder, Follow The Money.   

He stressed that annually, over 70,000 children below age 5 in Nigeria die due to poor access to healthcare and sanitation-related illnesses (UNICEF). Lawal urged government actions to serve the people by improving better service delivery while ensuring transparency and accountability.

More pictures can be found here https://flic.kr/s/aHskNiNznP