Quest for good governance at the three tiers of government in Nigeria is compelling young people to be proactive in their agitations for equity and fairness in the polity, which are some of the major ingredients for sustainable democratic system anywhere in the world. #NotTooYoungToRun, a recently launched campaign, an initiative of Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) is currently taking the lead in correcting the several archaic notions and popular misconceptions that young persons in Nigeria are unfit to hold political leadership positions, and as such they are not to be given important in space in the corridor of power.
Speaking at Public Debate held in Abuja yesterday, Samson Itodo, Coordinator YIAGA and the initiator of #NotTooYoungToRun said the campaign is aimed at ensuring that young persons in Nigeria (above 18 and below age 35) be given opportunities to run for elective positions in government through #NotTooYoungToRun Bill. Itodo added that the Public Debate is targeted at stimulating public discourse on the rational and general principles of the Bill. “The debate will enlighten citizens on the role of the legislature, constitution review process and strategies for engaging state and federal legislators” he explained.
Honourable Tony Nwulu, Representing Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency 2 of Lagos State, who has also been the major sponsor of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill which according to him has just passed the second reading in the hollow chamber of 8th National Assembly said “Young people in Nigeria have great potentials to be great leaders just like their counterparts in developed nations but it is quite disheartening that plethora of challenges are militating against them, the biggest challenge being lack of legal framework and constitutional backing for them to run for elective offices before age 35.
“It contravenes the fundamental human rights that any young person above 18 who has the right to vote, right to get married and be responsible for his or her family to be asked to wait for another twelve or fifteen years before he could be allowed to run for elective positions” he posited
Nwulu added that there is urgent need for constitutional review to ensure that these young intelligent Nigerians are given their space to run for political offices come 2019 and if possible before then. He further added that through this campaign young Nigerians are giving the older generation leaders a lifeline.
Jude Iloh, Country Representative, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) who also gave an insightful speech at the event said older generation of leaders in Nigeria have completely made a mess of the government. “Old politicians in Nigeria only get energised when it comes to the issues of partisan politics, doing everything within their powers to overshadow the efforts of younger political aspirants contesting for political offices, thereby preventing them from making meaningful contributions at the decision making levels and government policies.” Ilo further encouraged the Nigerian youths not to relent in their pursuits in getting #NotTooYoungToRun Bill passed into law.
Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who has been one of the major influencers of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched late last year in New Yok has reiterated her stance on SDGs once again at the inaugural town hall meeting tagged ‘Buharimeter’in Abuja yesterday.
Amina posited that the role environment plays in actualising each of these Global Goals (SDGs) cannot be overemphasised hence it’s important that all Nigerian citizens get involved in its implementations so as to accelerate and maximise its impacts on our nation’s overall economic growth. ‘We cannot leave everything for the government to do, Yes, Ministers are public servants and it is a privileged to be one, but things would only work perfectly if we can earn your cooperation and work together in achieving all these goals. She stated that this administration would ensure that its delivers on all its promises at addressing security issues, ensuring steady infrastructural development and revamping the economy.
The Minister, who had earlier visited the lead poisoning affected communities in Niger State like Shikira, mentioned that the emergency response to remediation of these communities would commence as soon as the fund for the remediation is approved by the Federal Government. “In collaboration with Ministry of Solid Minerals, we will commence the remediation of these affected communities in Niger State’ she alluded.
The Buharimeter Townhall Meeting was organised by Centre For Democracy and Development (CDD) aimed at assessing the one year in office of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) government. The event had five federal Ministers in attendance namely: Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture), Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works, and Housing), Audu Ogbeh (Agriculture and Rural Development), Amina Mohammed (Environment), and Udo Udoma (Budget and National Planning).
Leading Youth Organisations in Africa such as Connected Development (CODE) in Nigeria, Youth Environment Network (YEN) in Zambia as well as other youth organisation in Malawi, Zero Waste Centre for Africa and No Excuse in Slovenia have agreed to synergise in the fight to save our planet earth by signing up to promote ‘Project #SwitchBags’, a campaign on the ban on single-use of plastic bags in Zambia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The urge to synergise in saving our planet earth became imperative at the last Sustainaware Regional Partners Meetings (RPM-Africa) in Lusaka, Zambia. The meeting which was scheduled to be a two-day roundtable meeting on Global Partnership towards attaining speedy implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at various countries of Africa and other Europe, Asia and across the globe, which is part of the objectives Sustainaware seeks to achieve, gave African youths opportunity for dialogue on the action plan towards addressing myriad of challenges confronting the continent.
Project Coordinator for #SwitchBags, Luwi Nguluka while speaking during her presentation at the meeting said the campaign also seeks to educate people across the globe on the hazardous impacts of plastics waste (non bio degradable) to our immediate environment, with the intention to ultimately cause reduction in the use of plastics bags that are non-bio-degradable and encourage the use of biodegradable bags.
Tomaz Gorenc, Sustainaware Coordinator and Team Lead for No Excuse, a youth campaign organisation based in Slovenia, who applauded this initiative coming from young people in Africa said “the impacts of young people would never be felt until platforms and opportunities for global partnership such as Sustainaware are being made available to them”. He added that the Sustainaware project having being funded by the European Union (EU) has, in the last five years focused on how young people across the globe can be the agents of change within their various continents by providing solutions to emerging challenges in the 21st Century.
Hamzat Lawal during his presentation on SDGs
Billy Lombe, Founder and CEO of YEN said, YEN has since its inception single-handedly led several campaigns on environmental sustainability, Gender Equality and Human Rights issues in Zambia. “YEN has a mandate to mainstream Gender Equality and women empowerment in all programmes and projects”. He alluded further that YEN workds to uphold this mandate: facilitating inclusive development, catalysing the achievements of the SDGs.
Chief Executive, CODE, Hamzat Lawal who made an excellent presentation on SDGs highlighted the roles of the youths towards actualising each goal. He said the role of young people cannnot be overemphasised in the implementation of SDGs whether in Africa or Europe. “ it is our future and until we realize the need to work in partnership, we may never be able to achieve much” citing several impacts of Follow The Money and other CODE’s projects in Nigeria as major contributions any youth organisation could offer its country.
In commemorating this year World Environment Day, Connected Development has once again taken the lead in advocating for safe, green and habitable environment by organising tree planting event in some schools in Abuja. One of the beneficiary schools was Abuja Children Home in Karu, FCT which was also one of the schools that benefited from similar tree planting project put together by CODE in 2015. The event which was supported National Orientation Agency (NOA), having sent a representative to speak to students, also had in attendance, Hour With A Book representative, a project that seeks to promote the reading culture in Nigeria.
According to Dotun Roy, Programme Officer, CODE while educating the students on the importance of tree planting to human existence. “Climate Change is the major enemy of environment and we must endeavour to seek ways to fight and protect ourselves from the negative effect associated with it by planting more trees in order to create more shades and trap the CO2” He shared how planting more tress could help in mitigating the effects of climate change in Nigeria and parts of the world. These students, out of curiousity and inquisition asked several questions about climate change and its relation to soil erosion, flooding and global warming. “How can we solve the problem of erosion?” asked abdulmalik one of the curious students.
NOA Representative, Mrs Stella, who spoke to the students on how their attitude to their environment could either bring about either good or bad consequences on their health, education and their mental development, said the pupils should endeavours to inform their parents of how beneficial it could be for them to desist from those activities/practices that may compound the effects of climate change in Nigeria, such practices as indiscriminate cutting of trees, dumping of refuse in the waterways, canals and drainage, excessive use of generating sets and burning of used tyres.
Mr Ismaila, Coordinator, Hour With A Book, who donated “Climate of Change” a novel written on climate change to the students, expressed his concerned about the devastating effect of climate change in the country. “High temperature caused by excessive heat from sunlight is causing a lot of discomfort for people at night causing them sleepless nights and during day” He said this climatic condition is becoming unbearable for people particularly those living in the far Northern part of the country.
The event was concluded by planting of trees and naming each tree after few students for them to take ownership of the trees and give them proper care necessary for their survival.
Sequel to our past findings and reports on the challenges militating against the #WaterBachaka, Follow The Money (Bikudi) Team once again visited Bachaka community to engage the people on the progress so far and whether GGW Agency has eventually looked into the issue of inadequate provision of Water for the dry crops and Orchards within their community. The responses we got from them were documented below:
The Head of the community who is also the Maiyaki of Bachaka Community spoke us first. “We are just waiting for them to complete what they started, they came callings on us to make the GGW project a success by getting our women and youth involved, yet they are the ones that have messed up the project themselves because most of the trees and plants in the Orchard are dying off due to unavailability of water source to wet them”. he explained.
Alhaji Barmu Liman, Head of Farmer in Bachaka bore his mind on the plight of GGW water project, “I even persuaded my wife to support the project since inception when they came. During the launching they brought two tractors that have tank for watering the Orchard, when the Orchard were at still nursery stage. But after sometimes we didn’t see them again. We later discovered that those tractors are still within a nearby community close to Bachaka. They have been abandoned there, he explained.
Speaking as the head of farmers in Bachaka, he said their annual yields and farm produce have dropped since they do not have water to support their plants and crops. “we have to wait for raining season for us to plant any crop because without adequate water supply they might dry up” he affirmed.
“Myself and other women within the community were given some portion of the Orchard which consist of varieties of plants at the nursery stages such as oranges, watermelons, mangoes, tomatoes, Dongoyaro trees to wet and nurture till they grow big, but they have refused to build more water sources to ensure the success of these project. They promised us that we wont lack water to wet those Orchards since there would be several water sources for us, till now we are yet to see those water sources” said Hajia Hauwa Barmu Liman.
She added that Bachaka women suffer to access potable water on daily basis, we have to spend more than N1,500 monthly to buy water. Our fear is what if the only borehole we fetch water from suddenly pack up what will become our fate?, she lamented.
Hajia Barmu Liman, Bachaka Women Leader
GGW Local Supervisor in Bachaka, Yayah Mohammed in his comment said, GGW States Representatives had come with good intention at the beginning but refused complete it. “We were given quite a lot of assignment to do but they wouldn’t compensate us” They promised to provide us with accommodation close these Orchards for effective and proper monitoring, they are yet fulfill it. he affirmed.
Saliu, who is an unskilled labourer, has a different story to tell, he said, himself and other community youth were employed as labourers and as securities at the commencement of the project, but they have not paid their entitlement and wages till now.
We are appealing to the National Agency for Great Green Wall in Kebbi State, to come and fulfill their promise to Bachaka, and also to save these Orchard from drying up” Currently the only source of water is solar powered water tank which is not enough to cater for these Orchards, another major barrier is transporting the water to Orchards to the nearby communities to wet the plantations. No vehicle is available to do this said Salihu, APC chairman Bachaka Community.
FOLLOW THE MONEY TEAM EFFORT
Having engaged the Bachaka community previously to know the efforts that GGW Agency in Kebbi state has made towards reviving the dead Water Sources for the GGW projects within their community, we further engaged the major stakeholders of the GGW projects in meeting at Modiyawa Hotel in Birni Kebbi on the 25th May 2016. The meeting commenced exactly 10am. We had representatives from Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Water Resources, more than five representatives from Bachaka Community and Media houses such as Kebbi TV and NTA Kebbi.
The stakeholders meeting was interactive session aimed at getting the Kebbi State GGW Representatives to interface with people of Bachaka and also to suggest possible way out. Engr. Aminu Umar from Kebbi State Ministry of Water Resources, who gave vivid explanation of the involvement of Kebbi State Ministry of Water Resources in GGW project. “Ministry of Water Resources was never part of GGW project we only came in to help built borehole and water Tank for the project at the initial stage of the GGW project, which we later got compensation from GGW” In other words, we were paid back the money spent in building the borehole at Bachaka Community.
When asked whether he is aware of the condition of borehole, he said, he knew the borehole got spolit later when the GGW project began, “Initially, it was built and powered by solar but some unscrupulous people stole the solar panel, till now we couldn’t find the culprit. In spite of this we were able to provide them with small generator which they to pump the water for use, yet they refuse to fuel it.
Representative from the Ministry of Environment, Alhaji Umar B. Diggi, he is the Head of Forestry and also double as the Spokesperson for GGW project in Kebbi State, commenting on the issues of #WaterBachaka, “We knew from the outset of this project that such incidence of vandalism and theft may occur that was why we made the project a community owned project, giving them sense of belonging in GGW project,”
When asked the efforts of GGW to revive the water source, he said, “I want you to know that GGW doesn’t have an office in Kebbi, it is just a programme that is being run under Ministry of Environment, so there are still many challenges confronting this project, “There is institutional challenge for GGW project in Nigeria”. Although GGW is gradually becoming an Agency on its own, despite this, at state level we are still struggling.
He also gave some spending analysis on 10 million Naira that was released for the project in Kebbi state. He said the money were divided according to the communities that are beneficiaries of the GGW project. “We did water projects in several other communites in 2 Local Governments, namely:(Arewa LGA) which includes Koro Ango, Bachaka and Tsulawa; (Dandi LGA) which include Agwa Hassan and Tukuruwa amongst others.
Diggi stated further that there are plans on the part of the Federal Government to collaborate with the 11 frontlines states in the North where GGW project is ongoing. “There is a deliberation on the collaboration between the 11 states involved and National Agency GGW for counterpart funding agreement, albeit yet to implemented still in the pipeline” We are hoping that this collaboration yield good results he said.
Boiling with anger, Head of Women in Bachaka, Hajia Barmu Liman, asked the State Ministries in Hausa what have they been using the funds meant for the GGW for? “What have you been using all the money government has been releasing for GGW for? Who is eating the money? We cannot continue to use our money to fuel the generator after giving our lands to support the GGW projects” She said.
There was an intense interactive session between the people of Bachaka and State Ministries Representatives, however they recommend that People of Bachaka could form a committee that would manage the borehole and Water Tank by raising funds to buy fuel to power the generator to pump water temporarily, pending the state government and possibly GGW Agency’s intervention.
Regarding the non-payment of securities and labourers they said they have disengaged them temporarily because of the issue of funding. And promised to pay them as soon as it is resolved.