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

Hamzat Lawal November 11, 2016 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Internship Experience So Far In CODE by John Paul

Hamzat Lawal October 31, 2016 2

Life has been good so far, but not very good when one has not yet experienced the real world before now!

The reality of life somehow depends on the level of experience one has acquired. These and more were discussions I was having with my brother about my plan to get the real experience that I need and he told me not to worry as he will introduce me to an organisation that will help me realize my dreams, I was very happy with this response from him, I was told to send my  CV together with a cover letter to the CEO of CODE, which I did and, excitingly, I got an email after some days together with a phone call telling to resume on Monday by 8am, that was the turning point of my life, as I was filled with joy.

On that very Monday, the weather was not very friendly as it was raining heavily but I did not bother as I could not afford to miss the opportunity I have been looking for a very long time. When I got to the office on that day, I got many things playing football in my brain as I met with encouraging and vibrant young people as against my expectations of meeting with Chiefs and Alhajis.

The most surprising part was when the CEO of CODE came in and introduced himself as Mr. Hamzat Lawal AKA Hamzy!, I was like is this the almighty Hamzat? Honestly, his name sounds bigger than his appearance, he quickly introduced me to the team at CODE and I was warmly received by everyone and immediately I joined in the team’s meeting, and after I was assigned to work with Mr. Tunde on the Grenade team (Data Mining). Honestly, working with him has been amazing as he’s teaching me everything I need to know about data mining and all about CODE’s work. He has never failed to answer any of my numerous questions or put me through in any difficulty, and, has inspired me so well.

One of the things that CODE has automatically changed in my life is the use of E-MAIL as an important means of communication. I have had many email accounts but only use it when I have something that phone calls or SMS can’t do. Now, I have been able to use one email for a whole month which has never happened in my entire life as I always find myself in the past, each time I want to check my mail, it would have been blocked because I am not very friendly with it as I have always preferred text messages and phone calls as means of communication, I am very happy that CODE has installed the use of email in me.

imag0591At CODE, I have been taught the use of Google drive which seems to be a big deal before I got here because I use to hear it from friends, I can remember when a friend asked me to pay him so that he can teach me, I am more excited today because I have learnt more than what he could have taught me, within my first one month in CODE, I can say that I have been able to develop a good working relationship with the team as I have noticed that everyone is committed in bringing out the best in me.

While I still work as an Intern here, I expect to gain writing confidence as I know that I love to write but have always doubted my ability. I strongly believe within my short stay at CODE, I will gain the ability of putting out strong, positive and constructive write ups.

Being too friendly has also been a challenge to me as I am not a very social type, but the CODE family has been of great support and help to me. As I continue as an intern in this great organisation, I intend to learn more than I can as working with CODE has been my best experience in life and i thank the management and staff of CODE for the opportunity given to me and all their commitments and efforts put in place to ensure I become a better person.

Memoirs of New Media, Citizens, and Governance Conference in Abuja #NMCG2016. By Olusegun Olagunju

Hamzat Lawal October 31, 2016 1

New Media, Citizens, and Governance Conference have come and gone but the memories will be with us for decades to come.

Hosted by BudgIT, EiENigeria and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria. The event encapsulated and gave a crisp dialysis of NEW MEDIA and the roles of CITIZENS.

The event which lasted from 26th to 27th October, 2016 has New Media, Citizens and Governance as its theme.

It was a pleasant experience for me, Tech savvy, New Media moguls, Motivational speakers, Men and Women of high repute, Journalists, Lawyers, Human Rights activists all converged from different parts of Africa to discuss “Rights and Responsibilities”

Kenya and Tanzania were represented and made the 2-day event a memory to convert and document.

There were so many top-notch moments in the event that lasted for 2 days. There was an increasing level of enthusiasm as many‎ of the speakers were introduced. This gave a strong signal that we were in it to have a real NEW MEDIA experience.

‎As we were launched into the segment of Rights and Responsibilities of citizens and Government in using new media in a mutually beneficial way, the Senior Economic Adviser, Africa Economic Development Initiative; Oby Ezewkesili explained to us why “you can’t retire from The Office of the Citizen of the Federal Republic”. She was elaborate and She made clear the obfuscated shifts in the minds of citizens about how our participation in Governance of our country should be. She said “Social contract forms the way that the Government and Citizens relate. There are roles, rights, responsibilities that support this.”

One thing that stood out as the high point of her speech is that “Majority of the adult #Nigerians never really understood the political system called #Democracy”

This led us to have a deep feeling of how coarse Nigeria is and the terrain too unjust for the timid youths. ‎She however gave advice and she said “My suggestion: Before the next NMCG, there should be a massive work by the populace at KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTION “. She advised that we apply strategy to our actions as “Hashtags are necessary conditions for effecting action but it are not sufficient” ‎ She buttressed her points and further stressed that “The knowledge is key barrier to the consolidation of the constitution of Nigeria” as in her words “I was called a Saboteur when I was in government”

Moving on, we had the Senior Legal Officer for the Africa Program of the Open Society Justice Initiative in person of Dr. Chidi Odinkalu and Representative of the Director-General of National Orientation Agency (NOA) discussed New Media and National Orientation. They threw light on role of Media in citizens’ education.
Chidi Odinkalu was particularly fluid and made his points as clear and straight as possible. He said “I do not think the Government has done enough in closing the gaps of geopolitics in terms of ‎Education” as”Education is over-parastatalized”. He gave very concise examples and related it to the ugly condition our Education has been relegated to.

He believes that “Education is the New Frontier”. He also gave a staunch note that “Nigeria has also changed positively and negatively on culture, one that has changed positively is Bigotry”. He however asked us to move away from dogmatism and embrace oneness and purge ourselves of all intents that lack spontaneity and originality.

Day one of the event also brought focus on how Citizens have taken actions on issues in their community on governance, accountability, and transparency to us. With Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development, Egghead Odewale who is the Chief of Staff to the Minister of Steel and Solid Minerals, Abayomi Akinbo of BudgIT Nigeria all speaking from different pedestals and giving insightful tips on how we should agitate for implementation of the projects the Government has earmarked in different communities.

Mr Egghead Odewale spoke in an elaborate fashion about how government senses our Social Media agitation.

Mr Hamzat was intricately debating on the Success himself and his team were able to achieve from #SaveBagega and other things involved using conventional media tools as well as new media tools. He stressed further that ‎”The good thing is we have FOI but it’s unfortunate that some of our governors don’t even respect this”.

The Last option for Day 1 was unveiled and we have a broad discussion on Effective and Efficient Law Making which was moderated by the Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) with inputs from Samson Itodo and Adeboye Adegoke of Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria respectively. These young men made long cases towards the process of raising the masses to some assigned power.
Extensive debate about the #NotTooYoungToRun bill ‎was made and it was properly lit.‎ Samson added that “We are yet to appreciate the concept of inclusion” and that “Democracy is all about inclusion”

Day 2 of the event was properly engaging with a wide range of topical issues to ‎debate.

Over the issue of New Media and Elections, we understood that New Media continues to play a crucial role in elections on the continent.
The speakers were able to pull the strings and gave strong points. Fatu Ogwuche was one of the panelists and she’s advised “We as Nigerians need to move from toxic conversation to engaging conversation” in the journey to democratic ascension. Moreover, she killed the motion that we can outright reduce the cost of conducting elections in Nigeria. To some people she says ‎”Election is an enterprise, people make a lot of money off elections” and “People like to spend money around elections”

Chuks Ojidoh of Governance Program of Community Life Project (CLP) said ‎”What else we need to use Social Media for is for Civic Education”

Captain Umar Aliyu of GoldWater & RiverSand Consults was the sole speaker on New Media and National security. He engaged the moderator, Gbenga Sesan on whether New Media is threat to National Security. He had a lengthy and articulate discussion, expressing himself easily and clearly on How New Media has influenced or impacted on Matters concerning security.

With concise analysis, he gave a brilliant speech each time a question was asked him. He started off by saying “Facebook is a global notice board and I use it to get Pulse shots”.

He went on further to say “New Media is a threat to National Security” and “There are challenges in our Security and the challenges, with New Media – can prompt our security to grow/explore” ‎
He exuded intellectuality and was on point as he held sway for the 1 hour he was on the podium. When a question “How do the Military get to engage with citizenry and Vice-Versa?” was asked from the audience. He was affirmative as he answered ‎”‎Military – Civil relations is just 3% awake in ‎Nigeria” and that “‎We‎ haven’t taken time to break the Ice as we have Myths surrounding the Soldier”

The Engagement Unusual segment was the talk of the 2-day event as Speakers from different sides of life divide were represented. Sitawa Wafula, Blogger from Kenya, Bobrisky the controversial internet sensation, Kunle Idowu aka Frank Donga and PR Expert Femi Falodun all came to the stage and gave a very good description of themselves.

Frank Donga showed brilliant brilliance, Femi Falodun had a lot to speak about and Sitawa Wafula gave breathtaking speeches that got us all drowned into the reality of life.

Sitawa Wafula gave a whapping story into her life about how she has decisively dealt with Epilepsy and has had to cope with the stigma that attaches to rape victims and survivors.

A short video clip of about 4:15 minutes was surprisingly beamed to the large screen as Sitawa Wafula explained how to tackle mental illness. This video clip titled “A Little More” got us all in awe and moved many to tears. She added dexterity and passion to her segment of discourse as she laid on stage to give few tips on how to restore an Epileptic patient back to normalcy.
Sitawa Wafula demonstrated passion and zeal – making sure the aura in explaining mental psychology to the listening participants captivated the whole auditorium.

The closing part of the event was most definitely the best. Media Aides of top guns in the Government of Nigeria came through to discuss Managing Social Media accounts for Public Officials. The discussion spans how public officials’ Social Media accounts reflects the thoughts of its owners and how they are able cope with intricate issues surrounding their roles.

Ifeanyi Aniagoh, media Aide of Anambra State governor said ‎”One thing you need to know is, Government doesn’t end on your desk as a Media Aide” ‎

Lesson learnt. It is important to us as Youths to harness and harmonize our strengths for a common goal and in pursuing this, we should be law-abiding.

Olagunju Paul Olusegun.


Hamzat Lawal October 24, 2016 0

The civil society mapping forum held on October 21, 2016 at Bolton White Hotel, Abuja, organized by DFID (PERL), basically brought civil society groups from various part of the country together to deliberate and share experiences of what they do and how they can work with other society groups that have the same thematic work area. To this effect, various civil society organizations were in attendance including Connected Development (CODE).

PERL is about service delivery and is divided into three aspects which are as follows: ARC work with government, ECP engage citizen with government and LEAP looks at the lessons from ECP to enable government use the lesson to achieve a goal.


Furthermore, there was a group interactive session that enables civil society groups to share what they do in details and the breakout sessions covering thematic areas such as good governance, corruption, budget, education, health, environment, agriculture using various approach like advocacy capacity building, publicity, research and to mention by a few, enable groups to identify and network with groups that have same objectives. In addition, effective ways for citizens to engage with government was suggested using the Freedom of Information Act to enable citizens hold government accountable and to promote transparency.


Why we visualize Information for Advocacy

Hamzat Lawal October 13, 2016 25

A good design for visualizing information for advocacy is one that achieves its intended purpose within a network of cultural, social and political interactions.

To use visual information for advocacy, we have to look at the base of interaction, that is the network of people who engage with the issue in different ways. The way it can be deployed through a network are also affected by the use of and access to technology.

There are four elements involved, information, design, technologies and networks. They should be considered in every visual campaign. Whether we are presenting a narrative of health, girl child education, violence against police or freedom of expression or even documenting trends of corruption, it best to use the available technology in order to deliver the necessary information in its appropriate form or design to the relevant networks of people. The combination will determine the communicative power of the images we create and ultimately, the effectiveness of our campaigns.


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

Hamzat Lawal October 4, 2016 24

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.


Nkem Iroala.team


Growing Insecurity In The State by Titus Tukurah

Hamzat Lawal September 20, 2016 4

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


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.


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.

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.

Goodwill Message at the National SDGs Stakeholders’ Retreat Presented on Behalf of the Civil Society Community by – Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive, Connected Development [CODE]

Hamzat Lawal August 30, 2016 2

On behalf of the participating CSOs at this very important retreat, we wish to acknowledge and respectfully appreciate the invitation of the CSOs to be part of this very important retreat on SDGs as it is coming at a no better time than now in line with the spirit of goal 17 on “Partnerships” and in the inclusivity of “Leave No One behind”.

Your Excellences, the Civil Society in Nigeria had been active players in the formulation and designing of the SDGs right from Rio +20 to the Open Working Groups (OWG) and have held key positions why playing very important and sensitive roles all through the negotiations leading to the adoption and signing of the SDGs.

Just as this promising African nation called Nigeria is clothed in rich historical apparel, signifying the process through which it evolved its democratic experience, the stellar role played by civil society in guiding both the needle and the fabric cannot be overemphasized.

The Third Sector, as some would like to call the Civil Society, is a potent molding tool with which Nigeria nurtures its conscience at every given moment.

As a testimony to the central role played by this sector in birthing a new Nigeria, it is instructive to note that some of our present leaders like Mrs. Amina. J. Mohammed, (Minister of Environment and former SA to the President on the MDGs) and Dr. Kayode Fayemi, (former Governor of Ekiti State, and present Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals), are products of the country’s vibrant civil society community.

At the dawn of the twenty first century, our dear country was privileged to receive the cooperation it needed in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While we met few, we backslide on some and many were unmet.  However, the lessons learnt are useful as we set out our implementation of the SDGs.

Therefore, as a sector we are convinced that today, and specifically, this distinguished forum, presents a great opportunity for the CSO community to candidly communicate our expectations, share our experience and hear fromgovernment and other critical stakeholders, on how we can jointly lay out the needed robust implementation plan forattaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.

As we all know, following the progress made under the MDGs which drove global development efforts from 2000 to 2015, the world determined that the SDGs for the period 2016 to 2030 would continue to fight against extreme poverty,achieve gender equality and empower all women and girlswould add the challenges of ensuring more equitable development and environment sustainability.

Hence, we must emphasize the need for Nigeria to follow the global trend by upscaling its capacity and sharpening its strategies for international best practices and norms. This basically means that we deploy lessons learnt from the MDGs for the implementation of the SDGs. But more importantly, it recommends a new paradigm shift in the partnership between CSOs, private sector and the government.

Civil society plays a fundamental role at the national and sub-national domestication and implementation of all international protocols and conventions. The trainings, outreaches, data mining, and various interventions of the civil society have helped immensely in ensuring that both national and international agendas are brought closer to the ordinary Nigerians. And in this way, we as a sector along with our stakeholders, the international community and our development partners are able to monitor the impacts of our interventions.

With the SDGs, there is a new, exciting challenge before us all. With our capacity as a sector and using our networks of citizens and citizen organizations, we have started popularizing the SDGs, 17 goals and 169 targets. And, of course, it is our duty to reticulate their impacts. It is also collective responsibility as participants at this forum to ensure that transparency and accountability remain the key words for all SDGs actors, the more reason why we ‘Follow TheMoney’.

The Nigerian civil society has already made some remarkable achievements right from the process of designing the SDGs. For instance, we were part of several consultations that led to the development of the SDGs from 2012 to 2015. We consulted with citizens all over the world through the ‘’my world survey’’ and brought citizens voices to bear on the design and negotiations that led to the development and adoption of the SGDs. We were well represented as active stakeholder’s at all high level events and intergovernmental processes including leading the African Women Major Groups at the UN processes and at the African Regional Consultative Meeting on the SDGs. It might also interest you to know that one of the outcomes of that forum, which was to vigorously utilize data collection, is already being implemented in Nigeria.

We were present as a sector in September 2015 in New York when world leaders including our President Muhammadu Buhari made history by adopting the 2030 agenda. The SDGs, it was agreed, presents a “key window of opportunity to improve the existing, haphazard approach to data collection and reporting”. It was also decided that civil society, private sector and citizens should collaborate with the government to evolve better strategies for strengthening statistical systems that can measure and incentivize progress across the goals.

We are glad to announce to you that Nigerian CSOs are already implementing this strategy in conjunction with the government, as agreed by the international community (Women Environmental Programme in conjunction with the National Bureau of Statistics just finished the first phase of their data collectors training for Nigerian youths).

However, we strongly believe that there are many more things to do for effective implementation of the SDGs, and many other strategies to adopt in order to ensure Nigeria performs better than it did under the MDGs.


Firstly, the government needs to exhibit more willingness to cross the line from average to perfection by creating the enabling environment for optimal multi-stakeholder participation in the framing, development and implementation of national, state and local government plans of action on the attainment of the SDGs. We anticipate a domestication of the SDGs within our national and states development plan.

We recommend seamless coordination between local, states and the federal government; and also between the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including synergies with the private sector and civil society sector which of course includes the media and the academia.

Secondly, we recommend a planned upgrade of institutional capacity in order to ensure service delivery and effective project implementation.

Thirdly, a coherent national data management system would be effective in mainstreaming the efforts and interventions of civil society, private sector and development partners while enabling all actors within the development space to carry out their task unencumbered. Strategically, capacity building on the Open Data concept targeted at those who will be implementing the SDGs is a major first step in realizing that at the review and progress of the implementation of the SDGs can only be measured through presentation of data.

We are confident that if collectively we remain positive, focused and determined, our country can achieve the SDGs goals before 2030 and other developmental aspirations we have.

On behalf of the CSOs, I urge our government to see us as allies and partners to achieving the Nigeria we want, with the SDGs, particularly around data at the grassroots to inform policy and decision making, leveraging on innovative technologies.

Thank you for listening and for this opportunity!!! God Bless You All and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

7000 People Registered For My First Training, So What?

Hamzat Lawal August 24, 2016 1

On this particular day, a guy came to my office and requested to have a training with our team on GIS for social impact.

I was so excited to attend the training, being the first training I will be attending since I was employed in the firm Follow The Money.

My chief executive said Tunde, talk to this guy (the trainer) so you both can make this happen — again, this is my first responsibility that will be involving an outsider.

I cannot afford not to work my best on this, I said to myself. I and the guy both exchanged numbers and he left.

The weekend after the guy visit, we all went for a colleague wedding and the outing was fun and interesting, my team bus took the first, that’s not the story by the way.

Shortly after we resumed back to work, I call the guy up (let’s call him T), we talked and exchanged emails. Which will be the next line of action.

On the next day after the exchange of the email, T sent me a mail with the agenda of the training and I had to copy my chief executive and the administrator officer so they can be duly informed of the email sent by T.

Hey man, next time — anything that had to do with planning has to pass through the admin, said the administrator officer, I felt dejected as it sounds as if am doing someone else work in which all I did was as directed.

Still after that, I still have to do all the planning, the invitation and all the rest on myself. I designed a Google form for the event registration, sent a mail to our Google group and pop, everything was set out.

I checked through the response on Google form and noticed only 17 people registered.

On the day, I woke up early and felt none responsive, I guess my malaria and the event turnout made me weak, but I still have to go. I can’t stand to disappoint those that registered already. I just have to let all shame go and face the reality.

Just as predicted, I was late, and even one of the participants got to the venue which I am to open up before me. I had to rushed things out and yeah, all was set.

I called, T and he said his team are already on their way. When they eventually arrived, I have 3 people in the venue. I started calling those who registered up and we doesn’t even remember registering for such course, some are far away from Abuja while some were acting like am calling the wrong number.

Well, at the end. Though, the turnout was not that good but we all have something to gain at the end of the training. I felt bad again, because none of my so called team showed up for the training. They made it looks as if I wanted it and I should face it myself.

I did faced it myself and I am glad I did. I met new friends, exchange emails and am totally glad I did it.

On that note, I am still looking forward to organizing another event very soon. As I will be leading a lab training for plusacumen. I learned a lot from this first experience as it makes me want to try out another one.

I wish I could be afraid of trying, but no — I can only try.

Great thanks to @xniyi for facilitating the training. And yes, to my boss. Though he’s not with me, but he gave me the opportunity to.

P.S: that picture is not all of us, some already went before our office assistant make this happen. I should commend him also, Titus, you are a rare gem.

Photo Credit: Titus

My Journey Towards Greatness In CODE by Nkem Iroala

Hamzat Lawal August 16, 2016 6

My father was sent on a diplomatic mission to South Africa, which availed me the opportunity to travel to SA, but I kept in touch with my home country. While abroad, I studied Bcom Financial Management at Varsity College South Africa. I have always wanted to gain my first work experience in my beloved country.

I was having a concise discussion with my sister about doing something that will keep me busy, and empower me positively when I return to Nigeria before I go for my National Youth Service. She then told me about CODE, and I was immediately drawn to the idea of working for CODE as I got more knowledge on the amazing work that they do. She immediately put a call through Hamzat Lawal who is the CEO of Connected Development and told him that I was interested in doing my summer internship with his organization, he replied by telling her I should send him my CV and Cover Letter. A week later when I returned to Nigeria, I sent my CV and cover letter to Hamzat, who replied with an appointment on Monday by 11am. I felt excited, so I went through the organization website and did some reading to get to know more about CODE before going for the interview. After going through the website, I felt prompt and ready for the interview.

The day of the interview finally came, I was excited but nervous as well because I didn’t know what to expect. While approaching the office, I met Rita, CODEs Administrative officer at the door way, I introduced myself to her and the first thing she said to me was “you are 15minutes late”. That made me more nervous but I had to put myself together, after which I apologized for coming late. She then took me into the office and as I came in I greeted everyone. I went to the conference table where I was introduced to the interviewer by the name of Dotun Babayemi who is the Monitoring and Evaluation Expert for CODE. While seated on the hot sit, Dotun noticed I was sweating a bit and decided to go put on the air condition for me, which I thought was really nice of him. He asked me what I knew about CODE and I told him everything. He made the interview more relaxing as we laughed about some comments he made. The interview finally came to an end and we said our goodbyes.

20151225_095514On my way home I felt I didn’t do quite well at the interview so I was really concerned that they wouldn’t employ me. I called my sister and told her about the interview and how I think I messed up but she told me to calm down and not overthink things.

A day after the interview, I kept checking my mail to see if I got a mail from CODE. And on a Sunday afternoon, I finally got the mail I have been waiting for, which notified me that my application was successful and that I should resume work on Tuesday, July 12 by 8am. I was excited that I will be leaving the house every day, no more days of lazing around the house, time to be productive. Although I wasn’t too happy that I have to resume by 8am but such is life, so I had to accept it, and looking back now, I have come to realize that pushing yourself is more rewarding than staying in your comfort zone.

July 12 came and I went to work. I met with the team, and I must say they are really friendly and welcomed me warmly. I didn’t really do much work on my first day, but the second day till now has been work, work and work.

I partook at the launch of CODEs Virtual newsroom. The product from the Virtual newsroom is set to engage and empower marginalized people in rural areas to enhance their livelihoods. I was the note taker for the meeting. For me it wasn’t just all about taking down notes but to gain an in-depth understanding of Follow The Money campaign and this new initiative.

Some of the responsibilities I have been allocated to are: writing down minutes of most meetings and sharing them amongst the team members, final auditing of CODE’S financial report before been sent to one of our donor – HBF, and partaking in the WhatsApp hangout with CODES community reporters, where I engaged with the reporters and answered some of their questions.

I was opportuned to follow the CEO himself Mr Hamzat to TVC Nigeria for a live stream to give an update about Follow the Money and #SaveShikira campaign. On our way I asked him “so am just going to take pictures right, while you do the talking”? And he said “No Nkem, it’s not all about taking pictures, it’s for you to gain experience and interact with people”. I took it in and when we went to TVC office, I interacted with their staffs, which was a good experience for me.

I represented CODE at the Public Consultative Forum with Civil Society Organization and the Organized Private Sector on the 2017-2019 Medium Term Fiscal Framework that was hosted by the Honorable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma. The conference was very interesting and gave me the opportunity to learn many issues and insights in regards to the budget. It was an enriching experience for me.

CODE held a press conference on the 26th of July, on their work in the past as well as future projects. I attended the conference and my primary role was to write down minutes, record the entire session and transcribe it. Transcribing an audio recording into text format wasn’t an easy task at all, it was time consuming and it required patience but at the end of the day I managed to finish and it was worth it.

I have always wanted to work for an NGO that reaches out to the less privileged. I believe in giving back to the community with my time and voice, and CODE provides that platform for me to do that.  

My experience at CODE so far has been an exceptional one. I am surrounded by skilled specialist with the main mission of empowering marginalized communities. Working with young experienced minds that are eager to make an impact in our society despite the economic conditions really inspires me. The experience and exposure I have gained in my short time at CODE has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to meet diverse groups of people and be inspired by the great work that is going on.

I look forward to entering a culture that is courteous and caring. Coming into work every morning where all interactions are heartfelt and genuine. It is almost like I am in a different culture from my typical experiences in the general public. Walking into work and being surrounded by the wonderful associates of CODE makes my work day much more enjoyable. More importantly, I am looking forward to making a change and contributing to the growth of CODE by doing my work with great efficiency and bringing new ideas to the table, that would enrich the lives of people in the society.