By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: Connected Development (CODE), on Thursday, marked its 7th year of empowering marginalized communities across Africa; providing citizens, especially grassroots communities with access to credible information and building their knowledge on how to demand improved services from elected representatives.
Following this, the organization also unveiled and launched a new corporate identity for its Follow The Money initiative, in line with its mission to track government funds and international aid funding.
The Follow The Money initiative advocates and tracks government/international aid spending in health, WASH, and education across grassroots rural communities to ensure and promote open government and service delivery.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on the Follow The Money’s third quarter milestones, recognition and progress, the Executive Director, Hamzat Lawal, noted that since 2012, CODE has tracked an estimate of USD 113.6 million (in budgeted sums for projects) across 181 communities in over 25 Nigerian States, improving over 4 million rural lives.
He also stated that CODE has in no small measure influenced government policies to accelerate social change, adding that through this, the Federal Government has earmarked $5million and a 5-year roadmap to take a huge number of out-of-school children from the streets.
According to him, “In a country where corruption thrives and government accountability is reprehensible, with intervention funds for grassroots communities being mostly diverted, our work through Follow The Money becomes increasingly significant. We are making sure elected representatives are held to transparency standards
“We are strategizing our processes, expanding our reach to ensure every community, even in the remote areas of Africa, have access to credible information about their rights to basic human needs and are able to hold their government accountable for the delivery of constituency projects”, he said.
He also revealed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has expressed readiness to partner Follow The Money, in the fight against corruption at the grassroots level and ensure that government funds and international aid channelled towards constituency projects are appropriately utilized.
Lawal added that the EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu noted that the Commission will assign a desk office for CODE to manage communications and ease of communication with the Follow The Money Chapter Leads across the States.
For her part, the Communications Lead, Kevwe Oghide, while explaining the new Follow The Money’s corporate identity, said it articulates Follow The Money’s focus to promote transparency and accountability in governance as well as mobilize citizens by building their capacities on how to track and monitor government projects and international aid funding.
“The keywords associated with the logo are citizens, mobilization, tracking, government, transparency, accountability. projects and construction. The logo represents a tracking instrument that follows through with the implementation of public services in rural communities.
“The word associations depict community, citizen-engagement, a group of people bound by a cause, purpose or drive. The project depicts development, a symbol for function and advancement while the compass is a symbol of direction, leadership and integrity—representing the trajectory that Follow The Money seeks to attain”, she ended.
Also, the Community Engagement Manager, Busayo Morakingo, while speaking on the FTM annual convening, said that it gathers feedbacks, work processes, challenges, lessons learnt, knowledge sharing and peer review sessions.
He also said that one of their sustainability plan was to spur a citizen-led movement, to provide citizens with the Follow The Money methodology and allow them identify and track government projects in their communities, adding that there were 306 entries, shortlisted to 123 and 3 winners emerged.
The three winners from Osun, Akwa Ibom and Yobe States, were awarded the Follow The Money Medal of Honour for their commitment to improving public service delivery in their localities.
One of the winner from Akwa Ibom, Ukeme Anwan who tracked a health post project donated by the European Union, said that the contractors did a haphazard job and so, he mobilized citizens on what they should know about the project and through that they called for proper construction of the health post.
He dedicated the award to Akwa Ibom state and called on the government to ensure that contractors do their work properly.