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

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

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.

Excellences,

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.

My Journey Towards Greatness In CODE by Nkem Iroala

My Journey Towards Greatness In CODE by Nkem Iroala

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.

After Secondary School by Titus Tukurah

After Secondary School by Titus Tukurah

Some of our classmates have gone out of the country, some are now graduates, some have married, some have given birth, some are dead don’t forget that too, some are yet to be admitted into the tertiary institution, but you know that feeling when you meet your classmate and it seems like they have achieved their dreams and you’re not yet close to yours.

Yes, somehow feels like jealousy, it’s a normal feeling. But, you must not regret your life because all fingers are not equal. We all are different and our path to greatness is not same in distance. Some might reach before you, some might reach after you, some might not even reach, but whatever level you are presently please keep trying to break the limitations and move further. Celebrate the success of others, it’s an application for yours, rejoice with those that are rejoicing and mourn with them that are mourning. Your friend buys a car now, be happy with him. Remember when you get yours, theirs wouldn’t be the latest again. Life is not by competition but rather endurance.

Life is also a game that some might succeed while others might not. If not we all have been born into one family, one religion and same everything. The passion in you, never quench. The desire in you, keep it burning. The goal in you, keep pursuing it. What you pass through, the challenge you are facing don’t be intimidated rather write it down because one day the world would be ready to read it. There’s no height you cannot attain, just believe, define your goals and recognize distractions, spend time teaching yourself, because the things that mainly take people to the top is the things they devoted day and night and time to time to develop. Don’t be intimidated by your fellow’s success, the sky is too wide that the birds can fly without touching themselves.

9db2e1ee-01dd-4ddf-9554-9106663f8a88The mind is a dangerous thing and if you let it, it will kick you, beat you, and make you want to give up, quit, run for the hills and never, ever look back. Ever. In short, the mind can be a twist. It’s not easy to overcome the thoughts that trip us up. The self-destructive thoughts our minds come up with may be irrational, but when they’re raging inside of your head, well, they seem very real and very serious, and they can be utterly devastating.

Have you ever felt like such a fake as a writer that you wanted to walk away and never feel that way again? I never feel like a fake cause I know where i’m going to and where am from. Think positive, dream positive, Eat positive, Live positive and stop looking down on yourself or somebody but keep but to your dream, vision and goal.

Hope Restored As Remediation Begins in Shikira

Hope Restored As Remediation Begins in Shikira

We are extremely excited to announce that the Federal Government has finally bowed to public pressure and commenced the clean-up of Shikira, a small rural mining community situated in Rafi local government area, Niger State. One year and three months, after the devastating outbreak of lead poison that killed 28 childrenand left over 300 hundred others below the ages of five with high level contaminants in their blood.

This exercise is mostly profound in the sense that at the moment it is expected to prevent further exposure, open the door of opportunity for the treatment of those already affected as well as restore back the ecosystem and ensure livelihood sources.

IMG_20160711_123408Follow The Money Team, while celebrating this significant landmark in history of the Nigerian mining industry, also want the government to be transparent in carrying out this assignment and come up with a clear work plan showing the actual amount budgeted and a definitive time frame for completion of the project. It is important to mention that NGN 256,688,000 was appropriated in the 2016 budget for ‘Characterization & Remediation of Lead Poison Contaminated Communities’ that was signed my Mr. President. This is important, so as to enable us effectively participate in monitoring the process and provide the public with every necessary information they may require.

Also, it gladdens out heart to attribute a large chunk of our happiness to MSF/Doctors Without Borders for their relentless efforts and patience to the success of this noble initiative. Their willingness to render free medical services to the victims as soon as the clean-up is completed justifiably explains our accolade. We, therefore, urge the federal ministry of Health to work closely with MSF in fulfilling this critical task and initiate collaboration, especially in the area of knowledge transfer to strengthen her manpower capacity to handle such issues in the future.

The sad story of Shikira is just one in a million. It would be recalled that in 2010, 400 children lost their lives and over 1, 500 others were infected due to a similar occurrence in Bagega, Anka local government area in Zamfara State. And this is highly pathetic because the incident occurred long after the release of a report by OK International warning of an impending lead poison explosion in the affected communities including Shikira. So, we are calling on the federal ministry of Solid Minerals to revisit that report and ensure that its recommendations are followed in subsequent interventions and plans to avert any possible repeat of the ugly situation elsewhere in the country.IMG_20160711_123150

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is another key institution to recognize in this achievement. The passage of an outright legislation mandating the federal government to immediately clean up the impacted site, without further contemplation, in our assessment vividly demonstrate the hallmark of true leadership. Accordingly, we implore similar gesture and magnanimity from the lawmakers to also consider the review of the 2007 Mining Act to capture present realities in the industry, empower host communities and permanently address the challenges bedeviling large and small scale artisanal mining activities in Nigeria.

In conclusion, we will like to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for demonstrating the trait of a listening leader by adhering to public outcry. Amina Mohammed, the honourable minister of Environment, is another character of noteworthy; we are highly gratified over her visit to Shikira, an action that opened the mind of government to the depth of the epidemic which subsequently facilitated the commencement of the exercise. The greatest of our humility goes to the public especially those who added their voices and ensured that the right thing is done – They are the ultimate winner of this struggle, and this is so because, their actions have again revealed how the power of unity and mobilization can help sharp any government.

Thank you all and God Bless.

[PRESS RELEASE] Civil Society Coalition Launches Platform to Monitor Police Human Rights abuse on Citizens

[PRESS RELEASE] Civil Society Coalition Launches Platform to Monitor Police Human Rights abuse on Citizens

Connected Development [CODE], a non government organization whose mission is to empower marginalized communities in partnership with Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), a coalition of 49 Civil Society Organizations [CSOs] working on police reforms in Nigeria, on June 30, 2016 has lunched a real-time situation awareness platform at http://policemonitor.ng to document the human rights abuse by police on citizens and vice versa.

The Nigeria Police, as a pillar of democracy, has over the years, infringed on the human rights of Nigerians, with unlawful detention escalating everyday, and the rate of extortion of citizens becoming alarming, while all of this happens without documentation. “This is an open platform that will document several human rights abuse of the Nigeria Police on Nigerian citizen, it will be used in engaging the Nigeria Police and the judiciary to foster social justice for the citizens” said Oludotun Babayemi, the co -founder of Connected Development [CODE] during the unveiling of the platform.

The citizen driven platform will complement the Nigeria Police complaint response unit (CRU), which between January and March, was reported to have received and processed 1,054 complaints from across the 36 states and FCT, while 20 officers have been sanctioned. “We are not even sure that the CRU will survive in this new dispensation. It is hoped this new citizen – driven platform will compliment  it and remain the real citizens’ platform to report and monitor police abuses in Nigeria and to fight to ensure justice for victims and accountability by perpetrators” affirmed Okechukwu Nwagunwa, the National Coordinator of NOPRIN during the training for CSOs and the Media in Lagos,where the platform was launched.

Categories of human rights abuse that will be reported include police human rights abuse in Nigeria abuses such as arbitrary arrests,  and unlawful detention, extortion, police brutality, torture, extrajudicial killings,  and other acts of police abuse and police misconduct. Citizens can report on this platform by sending short message service [SMS] or a Whatsapp Message to 0708-000-4730

CODE is a Nigerian Non Governmental Organization, founded in 2012 to empower marginalized community by creating innovative ways of establishing feedback loops between citizens and state agents.

Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN Foundation) is a network of 49 civil society organisations spread across Nigeria, and committed to promoting police accountability and respect for human rights. It was established in 2000 to provide opportunity for civil society input to police reform, and the enhancement of safety, security and justice. NOPRIN carries out its mandates through monitoring, research, investigations, documentation and advocacy.

Images from the event can be downloaded at https://flic.kr/s/aHskCsHGno

For more enquiries contact the Programmes officer, Oladotun Fadeyiye at (roy@connecteddevelopment.org) or the Communications officer Amina Mohammed at (amina@connectedevelopment.org) or call us at  +234-929-1545

Would The Youths Be Given The Opportunity to Run in Nigeria?

Would The Youths Be Given The Opportunity to Run in Nigeria?

A Public Debate with Citizens on Independent Candidacy and Age Reduction in Nigeria’s Constitution.

The dilemma of youths being given the opportunity to run has been disturbing overtime, as such it is high time this question gets a concrete response with strong constitutional backing.

The timing for the “Not Too Young To Run Campaign” came just in time considering the state of the country at hand, the maturity of the democracy and the global context when it comes to sustainable development.

It is noteworthy of the fact that the youths in Nigeria are the most marginalized and segregated subgroup and on some certain set of people in the country irrespective of region, religion or tribal origin.

On Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at Barcelona Hotel, Blantyre Street, Wuse II, Abuja by 9:00 am stakeholders would rally around mobilizing and engaging citizens to air their opinions, both for or against the bill which has passed second reading at the house of representatives which is now with the Committee on Constitution Review.

In Nigeria with a vast population of over 60% youth, one tends to find out that the most popular duty of a young Nigerian is to vote while the older ones engage, advocate and of course contest and compete for political positions. Other  activities of Nigerian youth are seen around offices as Personal Assistant (PA) to political office holders.

Civil Society Groups canvassing for the Not Too Young To Run Bill at the National Assembly, perceives that this marginalization process has grown gradually, as it can be regarded  as deadly as cancer which does not kill immediately, but moves like a slow poison.

Inclusion and participation are twin principles that underpin constitutional democracy. These principles indicate democratic development in any given society. In other words, the vitality of democracy is hinged on the level and quality of citizens’ participation in the process. To this end, democratic processes or systems must be open and easily accessible for citizens to participate. Political alienation and marginalization is not only anti-democratic but a recipe for political instability.

If passed into law, the Bill will seek to alter the Section 65, 106, 131, 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 30 years; Governor 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25 respectively; as well as mainstream independent candidacy into Nigeria’s electoral process.

Fundamentally, the debate will seek to answer the following questions:

1)     Liberalizing the age requirements for contesting elections in Nigeria: A yes or No?

2)     Getting Independent candidates on the ballot in Nigeria: Hope or doom for the electoral system?

The public debate for #NotTooYoungToRun Bill will assemble seasoned panelists who will provide supporting and opposing arguments for the Bill. In addition, it will present two contrasting arguments for the Bill which is poised to decide the future of the country.

The Following Organizations are signing onto the Statement:

Youth Initiative Advocacy Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), Connected Development [CODE], Youngstars Foundation, Orodata, Mind Capital, African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPod), The Election Network,  Social Good Nigeria, League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN), Project Pink Blue, TechHerNG

Official Media Partners: Amplified Radio, Order Paper and Media Insight