REPORT FROM THE SAVING ONE MILLION LIVES PROGRAM FOR RESULTS (SOML-PFORR) CSOS ROUND TABLE

REPORTONTHESAVINGONEMILLIONLIVESPROGRAMFORRESULTSSOMLPFORRCSOSROUNDTABLE

In 2012, the Nigerian Federal Government initiated the Saving One Million Lives Program For Results (SOML PforR). The program intends to rollback child and maternal mortality in the country and saves an estimated 900,000 women and children that die each year from preventable causes. In 2015, the World Bank approved $500 million credit for the program. Subsequently, in mid-2016, the World Bank provided $55.5 million as part of the credit to the Federal Ministry of Health who then gave $1.5 million to each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

In line with Connected Development’s work in ensuring an open government in governmental expenditure in rural communities and in our three thematic areas (which includes health), we immediately got interested in tracking the implementation of the funds across the country. On learning about the $55.5 million approval from the Bretton Woods Institution and in the last quarter of 2016, we started tracking the implementation of the $1.5 million at Primary Healthcare Centres across rural communities in Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kano, Kogi, Osun and Yobe States. Subsequently, we arranged and had meetings with the World Bank and Federal Ministry of Health SOML PforR program team for information sharing and to share our experience in tracking the fund implementation. One of the key outcomes from these meetings is the importance of Civil Society Organisation’s involvement in the PforR implementation. It’s on this note that this CSOs roundtable was organized.

Download the Report Here

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AN OPEN LETTER TO MRS AMINA MOHAMMED, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT

AN OPEN LETTER TO MRS AMINA MOHAMMED, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT

Dear Honourable Minister,

I wish to use this medium to congratulate you on your appointment as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. It is an honour well-deserved. It is also an elevation that naturally stirs mixed feelings in some of us who are very much aware of what Nigeria stands to miss in your absence.

So far, you have distinguished yourself as not only a dynamic Minister of the Federal Republic, but a hard-working development worker for the people. At a time the nation yearned for deep understanding of its environmental challenges, you brought the insight and hands-on feminine balance that enabled this great country get back on its ecological track in order to retain its pride in the comity of nations.

As an adviser to the Federal Government on Nigeria’s implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the precursor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), you drove the programme efficiently and attained high points in critical set targets. This of course prepared you for your esteemed role in negotiating the seventeen SDGs under the outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and effectively stood you out as an asset to the development world.

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Likewise, the passion and patriotism you have displayed in your duties as a minister, have now engraved your name in the annals of history. This is because the commitment you brought to the job is based on your inherent capabilities and ingrained capacity acquired over the years in your service to society.

Your stewardship is now evident. Nigeria has launched the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Ministry of Environment has also successfully launched the historic Sovereign Green Bonds – first of its kind; flagged off the Ogoni Clean-up Programme; and streamlined the Great Green Wall programme for a focused and sustainable implementation.

Dear Minister, in spite of the pleasure we find in celebrating your value and landmark achievements, we are still perturbed by the nagging fear that your efforts may yet be in vain if the solid foundation you are laying in the sector is not capped with a seamless transition to sustainable pillars of continued progress, as you move on to your new international office.

This is why we also use this opportunity to draw your attention to some real issues that when properly addressed, would spell the survival lines to this all-important sector, and to the country in general.

Firstly, we are conscious of the fact that your tenure as the Minister of Environment brought a lease of life to the energy efficiency sub-sector, and effectively cleared the foul and dark aura already engendered by the Clean Cookstoves saga. Presently, you have set a fresh course that promises to reignite hope in the achievement of the goals that inspired the project in the first place.

Therefore, we call on you to set a lasting template that would sustain the momentum of the clean cookstoves project, even in your absence. We hope your efforts would help ensure that government delivers on the statutory 15% from the Ecological Fund, while also inspiring the ambition and bureaucratic urgency needed to deliver on the project.

Secondly, we can never forget that your motherly intervention and tireless activism impacted positively on the success of the ongoing Shikira lead poisoning remediation project. However, having assessed the progress of the cleanup, we are convinced that the project has to go beyond just remediation, but also a sustainable structure for ecological management. This is in order to ensure that there is no future outbreak of lead poisoning in Shikira and in other communities involved in artisanal mining.

Thirdly, we are worried that if the proper systemic adjustments are not made in the ministry of environment, we may lose some of the critical milestones achieved under your watch. This is why we call on you to effectively utilize the remaining few months you have to work in Nigeria in strengthening the structures that would ensure that in the absence of a good driver like you that the vehicle does not crash into the bushes. We sincerely pray that things will never deteriorate to “business as usual!”

We wish to see that the ball you have set rolling maintains the momentum, because we are convinced that the environmental sector is the fulcrum of the development sector especially in a developing economy like ours.

For instance, Nigeria’s NDC is an ambitious document, which needs imaginative inter-sectoral engagements for its effective implementation. With the vast opportunities that lie within the NDC and the potential complications that could entangle our bureaucratic infrastructure, we are concerned that, in fact, not just any hands can take over the helms at the ministry of environment.

How we wish, you could groom your own successor! Fourthly, we also cannot forget the fact that two critical regions in Nigeria are directly affected by your present and future offices: the South South and the North East. The Ogoni Clean-up project which you successfully initiated needs a proper and sustained project implementation.

The social dislocation that has erupted as a result of the humanitarian emergency in the North East also waits for your intervention. We humbly call on you to use your esteemed position as the UN Deputy Secretary-General to redirect the eyes of the world to the region. This would not only entail getting the required international support for humanitarian aid, but most importantly in ensuring that transparency and accountability are mainstreamed in their disbursements.

Finally, conscious of the importance of your UN appointment not only to Nigeria but to Africa as a region, we are hopeful that you will utilize the platform to inspire a revived spirit of transparent democratic governance, which we believe is the only effective way to address the region’s development challenges. And, we are glad that your experience in the development of the SDGs will also give you the fillip to inspire a proper mainstreaming of its implementation process in Africa.

Then, ultimately, we hope that you spearhead Nigeria’s bid to becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We are convinced that you have a date with history, and would have stamped your name in gold in the annals of history if you could work with your new boss to reorganize the UN and make it more democratic by increasing the Permanent membership of the Security Council. History will remember you if Nigeria fills Africa’s slot in the new arrangement, in order to reward our great country’s half-a- century old contributions to the UN.

Sincerely,

Hamzat Lawal
Chief Executive, CODE
Co-Founder, Follow The Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before I could realize it, my three months internship at Connected Development has unfortunately come to an end.

After three months of exciting and unforgettable time at CODE, I can say it has been an awesome experience. I would like to take a moment to remember and cherish our times together. It has been great interacting and knowing each and every one of you. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with you all. During my stay at CODE, my associates gave me support and through their encouragement and guidance, I have been able to excel at the tasks I was assigned to.

The atmosphere there was awesome, peaceful, with good hearted and thoughtful people around. For an introvert like me, CODE presents a culture shock, almost everyone is an extrovert. I got acquainted with people who have devoted their lives for the betterment of the society; with no self-gain or greedy motive behind it. They chose social work as their profession because they wanted to do it, not for gaining publicity or making money but for the satisfaction of joy of giving.

nkem-w-hamyI’m part of the data mining team for Follow The Money. As a coordinator, I enter money figures of capital projects meant for rural communities in the area of health, education and environment into the bulleta word we use in our innovative virtual newsroom. Looking for these figures and filling them into the bullet wasn’t an easy task but once I got into the routine, I started to enjoy every minute of it.

I’ve had a brilliant time at CODE and honestly it’s a shame it had to end. I will greatly miss the team.

I want to use this opportunity to Thank  Hamzy! For his full support. I’m so thankful that you are my boss. You are not just a leader to me but an inspiration. Your hard work has been my inspiration since i joined CODE. Working for you is a pleasure, an experience that i will truly treasure. Thank you.

I look forward in the near future for an opportunity to work in CODE and contribute the little I can give.

Cheers,

Nkem Iroala.team

 

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.

#NotTooYoungToRun Bill: Young People in Nigeria taking their destinies in their hands!

#NotTooYoungToRun Bill: Young People in Nigeria taking their destinies in their hands!

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.