Shikira Community: When Will Remediation Begin?

Hamzat Lawal June 17, 2016 0

Over 300 children living with high lead level in their blood and needs urgent medical treatment

We are highly shocked over the Federal Government inability to announce a specific date when remediation of Shikira will commence one year after the LEAD contamination that ravened the small rural mining community located in Rafi LGA in Niger State.  And this is even more worrisome considering the fact that the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed recently visited the area and declared it a national disaster.

It is noteworthy to highlight here that the minister during one of her meetings with civil society bodies and other relevant stakeholders in the sector disclosed that the sum of N300 million has been included in the 2016 budget for clear-up of the contaminated site, but the truth is that time is running out as the rainy season has just begin and would disrupt the exercise and spread to other neighboring communities if remediation do not commence immediately.

Also, it is on record that Follow The Money team after discovering the epidemic in April 2015 alerted necessary pubic officials of the incident and called for urgent intervention to enable occupants of the community adapt to the ugly event that claimed 28 lives and infected over 300 children mostly those below five years old.

It is exciting that Doctors Without Borders, a specialized body that render humanitarian services has indicated interest to provide free health services but on the condition that the environment must first be cleared of any contaminant.


While we acknowledge the minister for the move demonstrated by visiting the impact site to assess the level of devastation, a sign that reinforces hope that work may begin soon, we are also very concern about when the funds would be released to commence the actual clean-up.


Furthermore, we want the government to be open, transparent and accountable on how the funds are expected to be utilized including a work plan specifying project timeline, data and concrete steps on execution of the exercise.

While we laud the Senate for swiftly passing a resolution compelling the Executive arm of government to urgently embark on total clean-up of Shikira following the outbreak, Follow The Money team is in addition calling the lawmakers who has recently committed to reviewing the 2007 Mining Act to ensure empowering artisanal and small scale miners so as to mitigate risks and ensure safety in mining practices in Nigeria.


We also want government to prosecute individuals who are out rightly reckless about their jobs and possibly put them behind detention to serve as deterrent to others and foster sanity in the system.

On our part as an organisation we will continue to pressure the government on the need to release the fund for the project and ensure that we provide the public with timely and accurate information of how the funds are been utilized to capture the voices of marginalized citizens.


Hamzat Lawal

Cheif Executive, CODE

Co-Founder, Follow The Money

Please feel free to contact me or my colleague Amina Mohammed for interview, more information or clarification ( or +2348033009722).

World Bank: CSO are relevant in social Assessment of power Sector Reforms

Hamzat Lawal June 16, 2016 3

The senior Social Development Specialist West Africa Social Development of world Bank, Edda M Ivan -Smith, has called on all Civil society organisations (CSO) to have full participation in various project.

Ms Edda, made this known at the World Bank Workshop titled “Social Assessment of the Impact of Power Sector Reform on Users.

“The Voices of CSOs are more like voices of an advocate,and so we are happy to work with CSOs,” she said.

Also speaking, the social Development Specialist, Michael Gboyega, called on CSOs to help support Bank project by dialogue with government  to tap into various projects.

He said that there are lots of opportunities for SCOs to get engaged in helping sending the necessary messages across to the people at large.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for a range of stakeholders to consider the social impact of electricity services. The workshop further presented preliminary findings and recommendations of a social assessment, undertaken by World Bank consultants.

The assessment further considered impacts on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, as well as the opportunities for electricity consumers to be heard and to hold organisations to account.

The workshop also identified how to maximize benefits to low-income electricity consumers, the population that currently lacks access to electricity, and socially disadvantaged groups.

The world bank supports the Federal Government of Nigeria in developing the power sector in Nigeria. World Bank supports is in the form of direct investment support and in the form of indirect support for private sector investment.


Senate urges FG to approve funds for #SaveShikira

Hamzat Lawal June 3, 2016 2

The Senate on Thursday, June 2, urged the federal government to urgently approve and release the needed intervention funds from the ecological funds office for urgent remediation to help #saveshikira and affected communities.
In a three paragraph motion read by the Niger East senatorial district representative, David Umaru, the Senate called on the key federal government (ministry of health, solid minerals and environment) to re-mediate the environment and promote safer mining programmes for artisan miners.
The motion  is titled: The urgent remediation of lead poisoning in Shikira community of Niger state.
Hence, the Senate also called on  the Senate committee on solid minerals to review the 2007 mining act to reflect present realities in the sector as it affects local communities and artisan miners.
While-making contributions on #saveshikira, Umaru said the Senate is shocked at the survey result of the Federal Ministry of Health, confirming that 149 children who were under age five were tested for lead.
He added that the Senate is worried that environmental testing of residential buildings during the same survey indicated that there was a severe contamination of the environment.
“That early childhood exposure has been linked to violent criminal behavior later in the early adult life,It is therefore estimated that childhood lead exposure is costing developing countries 992 billion dollars annually due to reduction in IQ’s and earning potential according to a new study published recently,”he said
He noted that “The potential of lead poisoning to irrevocably inflict long term neurocognitive deficits on generations, there is need to urgently address this issue of national importance,
“This is a community that is already living below poverty line. All the children are already infected by this epidermic,” he said.
Also speaking , Shehu sanni representing Kaduna central senatorial district said the nation should work towards establishing a nuclear act.
“What the senate can do is to take the activities of illegal matters seriously. We have seen foreigners and Asians siphoning our resources. We should take an action that will address the problem,” he said.
There was a lead outbreak epidemic that recorded 65 cases in May 2015 in Rafi local government, which killed more than 28 children below the age of five. Many of which have  died in Shikira village of Madaka district, Rafi local government area of Niger State.
The affected children suffered convulsion and weakness of limbs as medical examination proved that the children died from lead poising arising from illegal artisan gold mining activities in the area.

Communique for the Abuja Anti Corruption Summit

Hamzat Lawal May 13, 2016 0


(5th May, 2016) Corruption undermines growth, erodes trust in governments, fuels support for extremism and hinders the fight against poverty and inequality. Governments have a special responsibility to prevent, detect and punish corruption.

The basis of Nigeria’s fight against corruption lies in its domestic legal and policy instruments such as the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which include Asset Declaration and Verification, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, Advance Fee Fraud Act and Money Laundering Prohibition Act, the Public Procurement Act setting up the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). In Decemebr 2003, Nigeria ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption which commits Nigeria to taking necessary steps in the fight against corruption as shown by the various domestic laws enacted.

We, the representatives of the government of Nigeria, representatives of civil society and the media met on 5th May 2016 in Abuja and are committing to implement critical measures that will ensure that the space for corruption to flourish will be curtailed.

  1. Cross Cutting Issues

Flowing from the presentations and discussions, the need to address a number of gaps relating to the present effort at fighting corruption was highlighted. The gaps include:

  • The present effort at fighting corruption should not only pay attention to legal and institutional issues but also to the sociological issues which are the root cause of corruption.
  • There is need to approach the fight with a greater sense of urgency, including creating an effective partnership between the government, business and civil society.
  • Defining an overarching vision and strategy for the anti-corruption fight that takes into account the importance of society wide attitudinal change as a way to ensuring the sustainability of the fight.
  • Devising effective means of communicating this vision and strategy to the citizens, including those in the rural communities. This is to ensure that citizens are not disconnected from government efforts, thereby securing their continued support.
  • The need to fast-track efforts at legal and institutional reforms, including the enactment of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Repeal Bill, 2016 and the Mutual Assistance in Legal Matters Bill, 2016, which seeks to ensure effective prosecution of corruption, financial crime, kidnapping, trafficking in persons and trafficking in drugs, kidnapping, oil theft cases and all other forms of crimes referred to as “Predicate Offences” as long as it has a financial implication and that it eventually leads to the laundering of the stolen funds.
  • The need to strengthen anti corruption institutions and make them independent and less prone to political manipulation.
  • The role of the Auditor General of the AGF and the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly should be more proactive in generating reports of the financial dealings of the government in a timely manner and making these reports publicly accessible to enable citizens interrogate the financial dealings of the government.


  1. Stolen Asset Recovery

People who benefit from corruption need somewhere to put the money. All too often they want to spend that money in global cities – making use of secrecy in the global financial system to do so with impunity. We need robust steps to assist in the recovery of corrupt assets. Countries where these assets are held should expedite the process of repatriating these assets, without penalties, where they originate in low or middle income countries. There is also need to address the high legal cost of recovering and repatriating these assets. The countries to where these assets are being returned could commit to invest these assets in, among other things, healthcare, basic education, etc. To do this we should:

  • Support the enactment of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center (NFIC) Bill, 2016 and the Proceeds of Crime (POC) Bill. The NFIC bill seeks to empower the FIU currently located within the EFCC with additional powers of receipt, analysis and dissemination of intelligence to all law enforcement and security agencies.
  • Identify priorities for spending on public goods and ensure this spending is made transparent.
  • At the London Summit on 12 May 2016 , to commit to increase transparency in the management of returned stolen assets, to ensure ease of access in the recovery of stolen assets, to ensure that “illicit enrichment” or non-explainable wealth can be used as the basis for recovery of stolen public assets.
  • Support the President of the federal republic of Nigeria’s commitment to hosting a Global Forum on Asset Recovery in May 2017.
  1. Requiring companies to disclose who owns and profits from them

Anonymous companies, trusts and similar legal instruments play a central role in money laundering, concealing the identity of corrupt individuals and irresponsible businesses involved in activities including the trafficking of arms, drugs and people, the theft of public funds, and tax evasion. This robs governments of resources that could otherwise be invested in improving public services and stimulating inclusive economic growth. Public disclosure of beneficial ownership information would enable law enforcement, journalists, and citizens to easily access and use this information to follow the money and root out corruption and would help businesses know who they are trading with. To do this we should:

  • Support the passage of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Repeal Bill, 2016 and the Mutual Assistance in Legal Matters Bill, 2016 which has incorporated the definition of ‘beneficial owner’ that captures the natural person(s) that ultimately own(s) or control(s) a company or trust.
  • Implement publicly accessible central registries of beneficial ownership of legal entities including bulk access to open data.
  • As a first step this should be taken forward for the extractives sector as already committed under EITI.
  • Advance these issues at the London Summit, including securing a commitment from Prime Minister Cameroon to enforce Public Registers for the Beneficial Ownership of companies throughout UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
  1. Ensuring budgets are available for anyone to view in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can see how public funds are spent

Budget transparency is critical for enabling citizens to hold their governments to account for the use of public resources in order to ensure that funds are managed efficiently and effectively on things that citizens want and need, such as quality health care, education, infrastructure and social services. We will work to ensure that budgets are publicly available and easily accessible so that citizens can see how public funds are being allocated and spent. To do this we will:

  • Support the publication of key budget documents in standard open data formats and creating accessible interfaces to display budget information, including but not limited to the Executive’s budget proposal, the enacted budget, a year-end report on budget outcomes including all off-budget revenues and expenditures, and an end-year audit report.
  • Work to link budget, project planning, procurement and spending data.
  • Increase public participation in budget formulation and execution, including holding public hearings during the budget process.
  • Work to disclose budget data at the federal, state and Local government level.
  1. Opening government public procurement and contracting and publishing contracts

Public procurement is critical to economic growth and development. It is also government’s number one corruption risk. It sits at the nexus of revenue generation, budget planning, resource management and delivery of public goods. Openness in contracting also encourages entrepreneurship, a fairer business environment, and a thriving small business sector. We will ensure that all our public contracts are awarded and managed openly and fairly, supporting business & civic oversight and providing open data on public contracting activities.  To do this, we will:

  • Support the disclosure of information across the entire chain of government contracting and procurement from planning to tender, to award and to the contract itself (including publishing contracts by default) to implementation to closure.
  • In particular, disclose all existing oil and mining sector contracts between the government and companies, including those governing exploration and production activities as well as other important deals, e.g. the crude oil for product swaps.
  • Share all this information as open data with unique identifiers to aid analysis, sharing, reuse and interoperability (using the Open Contracting Data Standard).
  • Adopt tools and methodologies for market analysis and monitoring to fix problems and ensure better solutions for public problems, across government, business and civil society and throughout the contract cycle.
  • Require that the beneficial owners of companies bidding or receiving government contracts be publicly disclosed.
  • Work together to establish common information set for contract debarment.


  1. Extractive Industry Transparency

In Nigeria, it is estimated that over $400 billion has been lost to ‘oil thieves’ since the country gained independence in 1960. All-too-often, opacity enables corrupt actors to divert these funds away from development promoting activities. Transparency of payments would enable citizens to hold governments accountable for the effective use of natural resource revenues. Commodity trading contributes substantially to state revenues. In recent years, up to 70% of Nigeria’s total government revenues came from sales from the state oil company, largely to oil traders. To remedy this situation, we will:

  • Seek to improve transparency and oversight in the sales of crude oil by the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by publishing sale-by-sale data.


  1. Follow up and international cooperation: The Open Government Partnership
    • Strongly urge the Nigerian Government to follow through with its publicly declared commitment to join the Open Government Partnership without further delay. Joining the OGP will help Nigeria improve transparency in the management of natural resources, and public funds as well as citizen participation in governance.

Insitutional Participants:

Government Institutions

  • Federal Ministry of Justice
  • Office Of The Head Of The Civil Service Of The Federation
  • Min Of Finance
  • Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency
  • Securities And Exchange Commission
  • Central Bank Of Nigeria
  • Bureau For Public Procurement
  • Nigeria Extractives Industries Transparency Initiatives
  • Code of Conduct Bureau
  • Office Of The Vice President – Rule Of Law
  • Ministry Of Foreign Affairs
  • Of Budget & National Planning
  • Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption

International Partners and Embassies

  • Department For International Development – Nigeria
  • African Development Bank
  • European Union
  • The World Bank
  • Ghana High Commission.
  • High Comm. Of Canada
  • Australian High Com.
  • Us Embassy – INL Office

Civil Society Organizations

  • BudgIT
  • ONE
  • Open Society Initiatives Of West Africa (OSIWA)
  • Freedom Of Information Coalition, Nigeria
  • Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Socio Economic Rights Initiative
  • Centre For Public Private Cooperation
  • Human Rights Writers Association
  • Federal Public Administration Reforms
  • Centre For Leadership And Strategic Development
  • Publish What You Pay, Nigeria
  • Civil Society Network Against Corruption
  • West Africa Non Government Organization Network (WANGONET)
  • Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ)
  • Enough Is Enough, Nigeria
  • Amplified Radio
  • Afri-Dev
  • Fenrad
  • Trust-Inc
  • West Africa Civil Society Forum
  • Center For Social Justice
  • Center For Women And Children
  • Amplified Radio
  • Public Private Development Center
  • Connected Development
  • Trust Africa
  • Center For Democracy And Development
  • Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Say No Campaign/YIAGA
  • Action Aid, Nigeria

Tighten Your Belt!

Hamzat Lawal February 15, 2016 0

As the winds of austerity blows, Nigerians eagerly await the 2016 Budget Approval

February brings with it arguably the most celebrated day of love, Valentines, but that love might not be extended to the federal government of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as many Nigerians are soured at the current state of affairs.

February 15, counts 262 days i.e. 10 months since a new government came into power for Africa’s most populous nation, 10 months, that many argue hasn’t transpired to “change”.

The current increase in electricity tariffs [45%], a possible increase in VAT, declining oil prices, the exchange rate of the naira on the forex and most importantly, the 2016 budget that is yet to be approved, has the masses wondering where the country is heading.

We present to you a timeline of some events shaping Nigerians reactions and Buhari’s tenure: –

Well, it is necessary to note and give credit to the National Assembly for spotting errors in Nigeria’s 2016 budget as seen below:

  • Lai Mohammed, Minister for Culture flatly rejected any knowledge of N368 Million in the budget item of the Ministry of Information for the procurement of computers;
  • Ministry of Solid Minerals To Update Website With N795 Million;

Some other funny [well suspicious] figures most Nigerians will be watching to see if they get approved include: –

  • The State House Rent – N30.8 million [is the Aso Rock for rent?]
  • Office Furniture for Ministry of Power, Works & Housing HQ – N1.2 billion
  • Purchase of Photocopying Machine by APCON – N6.5 million

Whether it’s the revised version, Minister’s version or Budget Mafia’s version that is finally approved, we do hope for immediate action as many local communities who most likely would not read this post live in abject poverty. Families are living a hand to mouth existence, with no electricity, water, nor adequate health facilities.

If 10,000 Primary Health Centres are provided …

Hamzat Lawal February 5, 2016 0

If the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, and his Ministry complete the building and upgrading of at least 10,000 Primary Health Care Centres [PHCs] across the entire 774 local government areas of Nigeria in the next one year, millions of Nigerians living in communities will reduce approaching secondary and tertiary health institutions with common ailments like headache, malaria, cough and catarrh.

If the supporting announcement by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, for the ambitious project across Nigeria ensures its achievement, then overcrowding at the tertiary hospitals would reduce.

Ehanire said that the architectural plan of healthcare in Nigeria were 4: Preventive, Promotional, Curative and Rehabilitation.

The preventive aspect entails safe water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and immunisation which many local communities lack and existing infrastructure are not working.

Getting down to it …

The Total Proposed Health Budget stands at 257.7 billion naira from 221.7 billion [a 16% increase]

Out of which the total proposed for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency [NPHCDA] is 17.7 billion naira [It is the assumption of the author of this article that the NPHCDA would be have a major stake in this project]

Well, according to the budget for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, there is no proposed spending for the upgrading and building of the PHCs as capital spending revolves arounds developing a national logistics supply; and procurement of vaccines and devices.

Visiting the website of the agency [], reveals no information about Primary Health Centres, which should raise a few eyebrows given that the project is supposed to be completed within the year 2016.

So I return to where I began this post “If

Also, if the funds are eventually released [from who knows where] and you want to probably get involved to support the completion of the project, you could activate us to track spending.


For Further Reading

2016 Appropriation Bill – Budget Office of the Federation

News article – FG to build 10,000 PHCs in 774 councils – Minister

[PRESS RELEASE] Why Buhari Should Probe the NGN 9.2 billion Clean Cookstove Scheme

codepress October 16, 2015 0

(28 September 2015), After over six months of frequent engagement with stakeholders both in private and public sector on the implementation of the N9.2 Billion National Clean Cookstove Scheme (NCCS), we are today calling on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Environment and Integra Renewable Energy Services Limited, the official contractor handling the project in order to reinforce the objective of the scheme.  

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in November, 2014 under the reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan approved the above sum of (N9.2B) as an intervention fund to procure 750,000 clean cookstoves and 18,000 Wonderbags to mitigate the environmental as well as health hazards caused by the use of wood to generate energy for cooking food which according to World Health Organization accounts for the death of over 95,000 women annually in Nigeria. This is the third highest killer after Malaria and HIV.

The Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal stated that ‘Our latest assessment report on the execution of the exercise titled – “When State Agents Becomes Kleptocratic Women Are Deprived of Alternatives!,” vehemently oppose the intrigues that led to the contractor institutionalising a court case against the ministry to protest plots to terminate the contract’.      

The 15 page document urges President Buhari to find out exactly where the money is, and how it was spent.  

“It’s already over 256 days since this announcement, and 120 days after some of the funds were released to the Federal Ministry of Environment, the fate of 750,000 rural households that were supposed to enjoy from the benefit of this project still remains hanging,” our report revealed, Lawal Stressed.    

Lawal who is also the Co-Founder of Follow The Money noted that the Ministry of Environment confirmed receiving the sum of N5 billion after series of campaigns on the importance of the scheme in curbing the incessant felling of trees to generate fire for cooking and also reduce the quantity of smoke that poisons food as well as pollutes the atmosphere.     

‘While responding to our Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) letter, the contractor confirmed that it received 1.2 billion Naira from the Ministry of Environment to procure clean cookstoves, although the clean cookstoves exhibited were not newly procured from our findings, 3.7 billion Naira was confirmed by the Permanent Secretary, Fatima Mede to be in the account of the Ministry of Environment, while we could not ascertain how the  Ecological Funds Office has utilized the remaining 4 billion Naira’.

It is noteworthy to state at this point that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Nigeria’s agent of horizontal accountability has been an ally since we started monitoring the execution of this programme, and they have every bit of information concerning it.

While kicking the status quo from its point of equilibrium using various strategies to ensure that this initiative doesn’t toe the part of others, we are still hoping that the ICPC will take pro-active steps after being part of the processes we have initiated to address the uncertainties beclouding the successful implementation of this exercise.    


For more information or any clarification, kindly contact:

In Abuja, for CODE, Oludotun Babayemi (English)  or

In Abuja, for CODE, Ojonwa Miachi (English)

or Call – +234-09-291-7545

Editor’s Note:


Follow The Money is an initiative of Connected Development [CODE] that advocates, tracks, and visualize funds meant for local communities. The Team is made up of Researchers, Data Analysts, Campaigners, Journalists, Legal Practitioners, Activists, Information Managers, Students, and Academia & Development Consultants.


Connected Development [CODE] is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. We strengthen local communities by creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building capacities of marginalized communities which ensure social and economic progress while promoting transparency and accountability.