What We Took from Mindset 2.0

What We Took from Mindset 2.0

Oludotun Babayemi, co-Founder of Follow The Money, an initiative of Connected Development was invited to speak at Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE), held at RockView Hotel Royalé.

SACE is a governance project funded by USAID to support civil society to advocate for reforms that improve transparency and accountability and increase inclusive governance in Nigeria.

Working nationally and in the Niger Delta, the project works with 16 core partners (in clusters and collaborative initiatives) reaching over 200 CSOs  –  strengthening capacity, supporting advocacy engagement and public awareness work by the core CSOs on key issues.

The project will support increased engagement and efficacy of civil society to be able to influence public institutions whose function it is to serve citizens’ interests. SACE explicitly aims to engage marginalized populations, such as women, youth, and the disabled in the process and emphasize the importance of leadership and innovation which is also part of the core mission and theme of Connected Development.

Still in line of these components, it’s envisaged that this project will bring Strengthened partnerships between CSO-led coalitions and networks and targeted Government of Nigeria institutions and key stakeholders to advocate for and monitor select democratic reforms aimed at strengthening transparency, accountability, and responsiveness of government institutions.

It was now very apparent why the likes of Oludotun Babayemi who is widely travelled and well-rooted in grassroots activations, Omojuwa; Social Media Commentator, Maryam Uwais; Human Rights Lawyer and Activist were representatives of their respective organizations to share thoughts with the group of CSOs present at the event.

Japheth Omojuwa, a Nigerian blogger, public speaker, socio-economic and political commentator and social media expert gave doses of advice for Social Media folks. He said “One of the fastest ways of reaching people is perhaps through Social Media” but, a caveat was labelled on to that “We have to take responsibility for the platforms we consume our news from”.

The 2016 Best Twitter Personality Of The Year said Part of what drives our movement towards achieving success with Social Media is that, “the citizens now have the power to drive change via new media but because we are now in the era of masses; Mass media, mass production, mass movement, we have move from the stage where organizations say something and we follow”.

Oludotun Babayemi, the co-creator of Follow the Money, Nigeria; School of Data Fellow and CrisisMapper Fellow shared essential information about how FollowTheMoney – the largest grassroots movement, designed to track and visualize government funds in Africa was formed.

He said “Passion drove us to Zamfara State to link what was happening but we never thought of sustainability; however sustainability is an essential component of building effective public campaign strategy.” Speaking more on how passion drove their activity, he said “the first time we journeyed into Zamfara State, Bagega wasn’t even on the map”.

He also intensively debated that “No country has been able to move from underdevelopment to development without Education”.

The Stanford University Centre for Development, Democracy and the Rule of Law fellow enthused further that “We decided not to be conventional in our campaign but to leverage heavily on the media in innovative ways.

We started Follow The Money campaign by tracking government funding on health, education and environment and we constantly leveraged on champions to drive the Bagega Campaign such as Omojuwa as key ‘influencer’, as it is always sane and reasonable for long-term sake that “NGOs should focus on their strengths and have one thematic area of work to remain relevant and in sync with the public because originality, people and technology are key to success”.

Babayemi advised that “knowledge based advocacy is important in having focused campaign” to be able to have strengthened public awareness, discourse and support for key democratic governance issues such as transparency, accountability and good governance.

As part of the Objectives of the 2.0 Mindset series which is to share lessons learned based on the achievements and challenges of CSOs in TAGG engagement.

Mariam Uwais, Special adviser to the President on Social Protection plan made cases for how we can effectively manage some social vices and curb them, in line with focus. She was quick to relay to the audience that “persistence has reward”.

Mariam Uwais, Special adviser to the President on Social Protection plan made cases for how we can effectively manage some social menace and able to curb them, in line with focus, she was quick to relay to the audience that “persistence has its own reward”.

“Identify our audience well”  because she said “Working on Child marriage in the North, we targeted the turbaned and bearded.” Because “It’s always important that you stand for something; build network and reach out to people”

The seasoned lawyer and activist also tasked the audience that in carrying out the functions, we must “be kind, be compassionate, put yourself in the others shoes and always keep the bigger picture in view”.

More so , as the program also seek to provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to have in-depth discussion on the expectations and way forward in optimizing CSOs role in policy dialogue and reform. She enthused that “We’re enlisting 3rd party monitors to track social investment because it’s important to hear the other party’s’ voice.“Every beneficiary of social protection program of the Federal Government has BVN and their names in register” she added.

As this event was the 8th edition of the 2.0 Mindset Series since it was launched in December 2016. The platform has focused on various themes including: Effective Advocacy, Strategies and Tactics; Collective impact – what works; Understanding the Open Government initiative and much more.
Also as this initiative seeks to complement the project’s subsequent dialogues on fostering and strengthening public discourse and support for key democratic governance issues. We hope to reach out again next time around. In the meantime, join our movement via ifollowthemoney.org and be part of the people who will drag positive change into the country. #FollowTheMoney

Olusegun is the Social Media Strategist for Connected Development & FollowTheMoney. He’s a Social commentator and Social Media expert.

But Who are You? The Global Media Forum in 2017 focusing on Identity and Diversity

But Who are You? The Global Media Forum in 2017 focusing on Identity and Diversity

Put seven people from the different continent in a room, and let them share experiences of how growing – up looks like in their various continent. You will get different perspectives. Ask same people, how they think their growing up could have been made smarter, I am sure they will not give you the same answer. So, do we think we have general solutions to today’s world problems? Are we living some people behind, especially in the post-cold war era? Whether it’s populism, liberalism, or extremism – it seems there is a new world order, and marginalized communities are starting to feel they have a voice, and they really want to leverage on this voice to make a certain statement!

“It is not really about liberal democracy, it is about identifying what works for your community, for your people, and what makes you tick as a nation” a resolution from a heated debate that ensued between myself, a Chinese, a Cameroonian, and an Ethiopian while passing through the border control at Frankfurt, Germany. It’s another edition of the Global Media Forum in Bonn, and I will be attending the Forum again for the second year in a row – this time to join in the discussion about Identity and Diversity. The Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum is an international congress that provides a platform for more than 2,000 media representatives, and experts from the fields of politics, culture, business, development and science.

At the end of my Junior High in 1993, Samuel Huntington published an article in the Foreign Affairs on The clash of civilizations and he reiterated his hypothesis that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Fast forward to 2017, the world is facing the challenge of democracy decline in developing countries, alignment between groups that find common goods amongst themselves – Qatar, Iran, Syria, China and Russia; the new revolution in France – Le Marche, which is either Left or Right; the Isolated North Korea; the British exit from the European Union; and not to forget the emergence of the blockchain technology that breaks the monopoly of powerful central banks and government agencies in maintaining single entities.

As a matter of fact, the media is not immune to this change in world order. It is becoming difficult for the media to decipher fact from lies! Cultures can decide to have their own media and share with the world, for some people – Twitter and Facebook have become their media, and as the world evolves from the 24-hour news stream, it is becoming more challenging for the media to communicate solutions. For the next three days (June 19 – 21), I look forward to engaging with delegates at the Global Media Forum to designing interdisciplinary approaches for meeting the challenges of the new world era, and explore how the media can play a central role in this post – factual time.

To follow the conversation at the 2017 Global Media Forum 2017 in Bonn, Follow The Official event Twitter handle – @DW_GMF; Official Event Hashtag #dw_gmf; and also our Twitter handle @connected_dev 

Oludotun Babayemi is the co -founder of Connected Development [CODE] popularly known for its Follow The Money Project in Nigeria, and now in other countries in Africa. You can schedule a meeting with him by commenting on this blog post, and via his Twitter handle – @dotunbabayemi

THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

Last week was one of my best and a good one for democracy as I had the opportunity of participating in a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) training organized by Cloneshouse Nigeria. Pre this training, I had a contracted knowledge of the M&E process (also referred in this piece as The Process) albeit I was quite aware that its skills are amongst the most requested of, in the non-profit development space. The only thing I could remember on M&E was one of my International Economics professor’s comments that inadequate M&E frameworks are one of the problems facing governance in Africa. As someone passionate about knowledge, outstandingly so when it concerns development, my interest and expectations from the training were hyper-raised.

What I did immediately was to seek permission from my boss to attend the training and scan through most of my Masters’ education briefs in International Economic Policy Analysis to probably get a deeper insight into what The Process was all about. I also went online, trying to have a briefing about the theme. Summary of what I picked was that The Process is a key component of policy processes and comes timely in improving and assessing performance of programs, projects, institutions and policies.

The first day of the 8-day training proved to me that I was in the right place. It was held at the Boardroom, on Ganges Street, Maitama, Abuja, and in participation were 9 colleagues in the development space from the British Council’s Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme and PACT Nigeria. The training started by introducing The Process and accentuating its very importance in the implementation of projects. ‘The essence of M&E is to achieve results in programs implementation and for measuring the extent and impacts of  open government, open governance etc. in project implementation,’ said Oludotun Babayemi, one of the facilitators. So, The Process is for enhancing topical and future management of outputs, outcomes and impact of a program. The monitoring component of The Process helps in tracking the program activities so as to adjust deficiencies, while the evaluation component helps to assess the program’s performance after 2 – 5 years of its implementation.

From these were further lectures on the 12 components of an M&E system. According to Oludotun, ‘this is the engine of The process.’ The components encompasses organizational structure for M&E system, human capacity building of M&E staffers, carrying all relevant stakeholder partnerships necessary, communicating processes and performance of the program to relevant stakeholders, M&E plan, costed work plan, routine monitoring to improve performance, periodic surveys, data auditing, database system, evaluation and research, and using information to improve results.

What caught my attention was the configuration of an M&E plan which has the logical framework, data source matrix, budget, information product matrix, information dissemination matrix, managing partnerships between stakeholders and when the M&E system and plan will be reviewed. The logical framework, which remains one of the most important component of the M&E plan and process interested me the most, as it contains the result chain [inputs, activities, outputs (routine monitoring), outcomes and impact (evaluation)]. All of the result chain elements have indicators for measuring them. These indicators have baseline (situation before program implementation accessed during baseline assessment) and targets (quantifiable goals of the different components of the result chain – what the program intends to achieve at each stage).

The evaluation component of The Process was unpacked highlighting the core focus of such, such as efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, sustainability and impact. The evaluation report is prepared through the segmentation and population of the themes and so wise the preparation of data collection tools. According to one of the facilitators, ‘Before you design an evaluation plan, you must study the program framework very intensively to understand roles and partnerships. In addition, collecting data for evaluation report should be from the implementing agency and beneficiaries, and within the themes of Evaluation.’

Data collection for periodic monitoring, surveys and evaluation are exceedingly vital in The Process as it presents the sources of data, publication dates, who does what, budget for the data collection or access and methodology of data collection etc. In addition were exposures to monitoring information system, logical framework, checklist for evaluation planning etc. From this were lectures on the data collection and analysis component of evaluation in M&E – how programs are evaluated. Google forms were used to simplify the preparation of data collection tools, electronic data collection, and it automatically gathers data and input in a database (Google Spreadsheet). The Spreadsheet was so handy for data analysis. We were also exposed to the Kobo tool box for mobile data collection. Microsoft Excel was also used for data analysis. Altogether, as someone that has been battling with using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for elementary data analysis, the applications/software helped to demystify data analysis.

At the end of the training, I presented an M&E plan for a pseudo program. The plan was for an international nonprofit 2 year program which intends to improve literacy rate in a certain Shikira community from 25% in 2017 to 35% in 2019 through improving primary school enrollment in the community and improving teachers knowledge and teaching skills. The community, with a population of 1,000 with 60% being under 14 children has one of the poorest literacy rates in a State with poor primary school enrollment rate, inadequate number of classrooms and teaching equipment, and lack of skilled teachers. Please find the M&E plan/assignment here. The plan was supposed to make sure the results and objectives of the program were achieved.

This was a phenomenal training and wonderful exposure to M&E for me. Having stated that I started the training with no single knowledge of The Process, I am still surprised about how fast I learnt and how meaningful and interesting the training was. Perhaps, the expansive knowledge of the facilitators, their quality teaching skills and the various M&E System templates used and shared guaranteed this. This was so beautiful to me and I look forward to having the knowledge gained become relevant as I move forward career wise and academically. As someone passionate about economic development and interested in the development sector, I was really impressed. This was beautiful. This was SUPER. M&E really interests me and remains one of the best initiatives or processes in the development sector.

I think M&E training is necessary for everyone in the development space, both in public and nonprofit organizations. Organizations also have to send their staffers for such training. The dynamics of the training are expansive and cuts across the normative operations of organizations. For human capacity building, monitoring and evaluating performance and achieving results in programs and projects, as well as for enhanced organizational productivity, such training is exceedingly important.
Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Addressing Citizenry Extensive Concerns on the 2017 Budget Proposal

Addressing Citizenry Extensive Concerns on the 2017 Budget Proposal

On 23 February 2017, the Director-General (DG) of the Budget Office of the Federation choreographed a media briefing on several issues surrounding the 2017 Budget Proposal. The DG also used the briefing to make certain clarifications on public outcries over several budget items on the proposal. Most of these outcries were on many frivolous items (especially on electricity and utility bills of MDAs; several humongous expenses on the state house budget on utensils and feeding, electricity bills, travel expenses etc.); repetitions of budget items; budget cycle crisis; the budget preparation expenses; lack of details on some of the items; budget padding etc.

In attendance at the briefing were the media and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). In responding to some of these concerns, the DG took his time to counter some of the claims:

1). He stated that there was no sort of budget padding on the 2017 budget proposal.

2). That there were no frivolous items. That most of the extensive increments such as state house proposed expenditure on utensils and utility bills; electricity bills, security and cleaning services payments in MDAs etc. were either as a result of arrears of such bills/expenses or because funds were not later provided for them on the 2016 budget (meaning they were not implemented.)

3). He stated that there were no repetitions on the proposal, unless the repetitions being referred to were budget items on the 2016 one that re-reflected on the 2017 proposal, which was as a result of the fact that funds were not provided for such items on the former.

4). He reassured the audience of his liaison with the National Assembly to ensure that budget cycle would be from January – December of every year, which was clearly stated on the constitution, as against the culture of having a previous budget being implemented in another fiscal year.

5). He also explained that the details-deficit on some of the budget items were as a result of the perspective to keep the budget simple, for public consumption. That however that his agency would ensure further details on budget items when preparing subsequent budgets.

Representing Connected Development (CODE) at the event, I further engaged the DG and raised concerns over the NGN305/$ calculation on the budget proposal (while $1 is valued at NGN 520 at the contemporaneous market); if there are extensive plans for enhanced transparency and accountability in the 2017 budget implementation; our expectancy to lay hands on the 3rd and 4th quarters’ reports of 2016 budget implementation; his plans to ensure that revenue realization deficit would not frustrate the 2017 budget implementation drawing on the country’s experience with the 2016 one; and getting access to an extensive version of the budget that had further details on some of the line items. For the latter, I mentioned the ‘Talking Sanitation’, as well as ‘Afforestation’ and ‘Tree Planting’ budget items on the proposal, under the Ministry of Environment, which all lacked details such as where and how. Lack of such specific details has frustrated the works of CSOs that are into governmental capital expenditure tracking.

In addressing my concerns, the DG made commitments that were all in line with Nigeria’s commitments on the Open Government Partnership. He stated that the 3rd quarter 2016 budget implementation report would soon be in public domain while the 4th quarter’s would soon be out too. He further stated that there would be increased transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in the 2017 budget implementation. On this, he cited plans to have a digital platform for 24/7 citizen engagement on the budget. He also mentioned that there would be a breakdown on project basis subsequently when funds are released to MDAs. In addition, he promised a quarterly media briefing on the 2017 budget implementation. These were all good news and great outcomes for nonprofits that are into Open Governance advocacy. He mentioned categorically that the revenue realization plan on the proposal is quite realizable and that the FOREX regime crisis would not affect the budget implementation.

This media engagement is a step in the right direction as bringing all stakeholders involved and addressing public concerns on the budget proposal have boosted citizen participation in governance and also provided a platform for clarifications on several portions of the budget, as well as for stakeholders to make suggestions. It is hoped that the Director keeps to all the new commitments he made at the briefing and ensuring extensive open financial governance in the budget implementation. From our part, we are sending an FOI request for an extensive version of the budget, which he promised CODE would be provided with. And before I forget, he commented that he likes our name, ‘Follow The Money.’

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Program Officer at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

REVIEW OF CONSTITUENCIES DEVELOPMENT CATALYST FUND BILL

REVIEW OF CONSTITUENCIES DEVELOPMENT CATALYST FUND BILL

A one day public hearing on Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund  Bill, which was sponsored by Senator Buhari Abdulfatai  was organized by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) in collaboration with the Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation. The objective of the public hearing was to provide a platform for public discussions on Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) through a proposition of  a legal framework that seeks to address concerns that the CDF is a tool for the embezzlement of funds rather than an intended vehicle for development. The Bill attempts to address the democratic-deficit in citizen participation in governance by encouraging economic development and participation at the grassroots and also create a legal framework for Constituencies Development Funds.

In the public hearing, Senator Buhari, remarked that there was an urgent need for the bill to be adopted as it will help bring about transparency and accountability thereby ensuring that the constituents get a feeling of the commonwealth. He stated that Zambia has been operating it since 1995 while it is also being implemented in Ghana.

The CDF bill tends to apply to all Federal Constituencies in Nigeria. The Clause 4 establishes a Constituency Project Development Board to administer the funds allocated for Constituencies. Charges and expenditure from the fund shall be made in accordance with financial regulations, the Public Procurement Act as well as other provision in the bill. The Minister of Finance –Under clause 17(1) of the bill, the Council Planning Officer is to submit annual returns to the minister of Finance no later than 60 days after the end of every financial year. Allowable projects under the bill were not specifically indicated or listed, but the bill provides that they should be community based development projects with benefits that would be available to a wide section of inhabitants of the area in question.

It was such a rich and engaging deliberation as  fundamental observation and questions were raised which includes that the objectives of the Bill does not explicitly state the percentage of the annual budget that will be allocated to the Constituency Development Catalyst  Fund and merely refers to a portion of the Federal Annual Budget.  Also the composition of the Constituency Development Catalyst Committee in clause 10(c ) mandates that one of the councilors in the committee should be a woman. What happens where no woman has been elected as a counselor in the relevant Constituency? There is also no indication in the Bill on how all of the bureaucracy created by it will be funded. Lastly the currency for the fine in clause 28 (1) should be changed from shillings to Naira.

It is also imperative  to know that there is a similar Constituency Projects (Budgetary) Provisions Bill, 2016 sponsored by Sen. Stella Oduah that passed second reading on 8th December, 2016 and also a Constituency Development Fund Bill Sponsored by Sen. Ali Ndume that has passed first reading on 9th November, 2016. Similarly, in the House of Representatives such Bill exists which has apparently passed second reading and I ask “can’t these Bills be consolidated to have one Bill”?
I sincerely hope that the questions and recommendations made during the public hearing would be considered, as the Bill if enforced, its mechanism is likely to enhance citizen participation in the administration, management, monitoring and evaluation of funds that could bring about socio-economic development, empowerment, transparency and accountability in the constituencies.

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka

 

Begining The Year with a Bang!!!

Begining The Year with a Bang!!!

A new year presents a sea of new possibilities, especially for our works, lives and careers. It’s a time for making resolutions and setting goals. To kick-start our work for the year at Connected Development (CODE), an internal mentorship class was organized between January 16 – 20, 2017. The training was conducted to ensure that the team is guided at the work to be done and learn more about the inner workings of the organization that aren’t often spelled out in the organization chart and policies and also provide us a chance to attack our work with new vigor and passion.

The first day began with Oludotun Babayemi who was our mentor taking the first session on the concept of creativity, he highlighted the things that influence creativity. The session established that a project must challenge the statuesque as the most successful ones do not live on default and that there is also need for having the right attitude, gaining actual knowledge and connecting and combining with people or network for a project to run successful.
After the break, he took us on what Problem statement, mandate, scope and stakeholders analysis were, after which he asked that the team be divided into groups, with each person identifying a project he/she would want to carry out and state their goals, objectives, problem statement and scope of it.
Following the presentations and debrief, the training class was closed for the day.
Day 2 began with a presentation on Action plan which is an activity carried out throughout the project lapse. He also stated that it is measured by number of people carrying out the project, timeline and roles of people executing the project. He also did not fail to let us know what strategies, activities and execution of a project entails.

The focus on the morning of Day 3 was analyzing the funding ecosystem and coming up with budgets for projects. The team was then identified to present short summaries of what had gone on in the first two days of the training-workshop where we were all asked to work and pitch and pitch a project at the end of the training.

The fourth day which happened to be the last day of the training class happened to be the best day for me. We were asked to write what we would like to see on our tombstones. Tunde a colleague went overboard and said he wants to be” remembered as that who was able to solve world challenges” this got everyone interested to know how he intend to do that when identifying activities, input, output and outcome towards achieving that. Another outstanding experience was Chambers, who I believed was going to awesomely do well owing to the fact that he is our amiable office professor, unfortunately he was given the lower belt when it was clear that he didn’t understand the task given.

The day came to an end with Dotun reminding us of our presentations the next day. The presentation day offered us all an opportunity to review what we learnt the past days and where the strength of each member lies.
I am most grateful to the organization for giving us such a wonderful start for the year, through the training, I was able to get a clear understanding of a grant proposal and what each activity entails. Now is the time for me to define not just long-term goals but also short-term milestones that are both aspirational and achievable within the organization.

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka