All posts by socialdevelopmentnews

I am Funmi Falobi, Development Journalist, PR professional, Social Entrepreneur and lead contributor/Editor, Social Development News. Beyond journalism, I am also passionate about advancing social causes and empowerment, especially for children, youth and women.

Strengthening fight against corruption with ‘Report Yourself’

By Funmi Falobi.  

 

In order to strengthen the fight against corruption in Nigeria, the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria in collaboration with BudgIT, a non-governmental organization has launched ‘Report Yourself’, a web-based platform that leverages citizen engagement to fight corruption in the country.

 

The project which is on http://www.reportyourself.org/ is the initiative of religious leaders in the nation as their own contribution towards curbing corruption among the citizens. The platform was developed with the support and guidance of the Religious Leaders Anti-Corruption Committee (RLAC), the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), The Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), with the support of the U.S. Consulate in Lagos State through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. The web platform was developed by BudgIT.

During the official launch ceremony in Lagos, U.S. Chargé d’ Affaires, David Young explained that ‘Report Yourself’ puts the power to report corruption in the hands of the Nigerian people.

 

“I hope that Report Yourself starts a new movement in citizen engagement and I hope every Nigerian who is affected by corruption will feel empowered to share their experiences.  The tide will turn against the culture of corruption when Nigerians recognise that they must fight as one to stamp out this scourge that has hampered development and stifled prosperity,” he said.

David Young urged Nigerians to demonstrate their commitment to the fight against corruption by making use of the innovative online platform which seeks to address the daily instances of corruption faced by millions of Nigerians.

‘Report Yourself’ offers Nigerians the means to instantaneously report corruption, bribery, and graft with the option of filing an official complaint with the Nigerian Police Force Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit.

“Through the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, we are working to increase the capacity of Nigerian law enforcement agencies and the justice sector,” remarked Chargé Young.

Accordingly, Bishop Emmah Isong, National Publicity Secretary, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) said Nigerians who have encountered incidence of corruption should speak out and report it on the platform. “Corruption thrives in silence. The inclusion of religious leaders in the fight against corruption in Nigeria is important because we control the population. After citizens have finished work from Monday to Friday, 99 percent find themselves in churches, mosques. Adding to voice of corruption is very important. What the government fight on hours of the day, religious leaders fight on the pulpit. And the truth is that many respect their religious leaders,” he said.

Imam Shefiu, Chief Imam, the Islamic Platform and Director, Strength in Diversity and Development Center said there is need to fight Satan in Nigeria which is corruption. “Religious leaders are working with other NGOs to report corruption. We must come up and say it. If you can’t say it, report it, if you can’t report it, pray about it. We want to ensure everyone of us has the platform to report corruption. He explained that religious leaders would go round churches and mosques to enlighten people to use the platform. According to him, once a month, religious leaders would preach about corruption in churches and mosques.

Also, Felix Morka, Executive Director, Social and Economic Rights Action Centre, SERAC, said that our tolerance of everyday bribery encourages corruption. According to him, ” we, the people must enlist in the struggle against corruption. We must shun bribery and challenge these practices at churches, mosques, on the streets. People steal millions in the offices. We all must be bothered. This platform makes us massive soldiers to fight corruption”. He said.

Stanley Achonu, Manager, Operations, BudgIT, declared that there is grand corruption in Nigeria. “You heard about billions being looted, it started from petty corruption. If you have had experience in getting drivers license, international passport, marriage registry, or experience with police at checkpoint, you would have experienced corruption at low level and religious leaders can mount pressures on the authority. It is not about religious leaders but collectively we can join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari to fight corruption. Petty corruption kills, it deprives people access to amenities.”.

On his part, Head, Nigeria Police Force, Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit (NPF PCRRU), Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP Abayomi Shogunle, urged the media to help the public know that there is a complaint unit at the police force, PCRRU where they can complain and get justice. He added that the reports that concern the force on the ‘Report Yourself’ platform should be forwarded to the force.

“The fight against corruption is what everybody should key in. One controversial issue is bail and it’s free. PCRRU is for ordinary Nigerians not people that can engage the services of lawyers”, he noted.

During the event, participants received a guided demonstration of the ‘Report Yourself’ platform. In addition, religious leaders, members of law enforcement, and civil society representatives renewed their commitment to fight against corruption.

David Young said, “the cost of corruption comes down on people, it should not be measured in money but on people. Corruption harms millions of Nigerians. It is not measured in money but daily pains it cause the citizens. In Nigeria and the world, corruption is not only about the millions stolen, but impact it has on the millions of people.”

U.S. Supports Children Orphaned by HIV/AIDS with Micro-Grants

The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria is to support the economic well being of 50 women caregivers, particularly the vulnerable children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in five local communities in Apapa local government area of Lagos with a N2.9 million micro-grant. The support is under the U.S. Ambassador’s PEPFAR Small Grants Program.

According to a statement from the Public Affairs Section (PAS). U.S. Consulate General, Lagos, 27 local organizations have received funding under the U.S. Ambassador’s PEPFAR Small Grants Program in fiscal year 2017, one of which is Blissful Life for Women and Children.

 

“Under the U.S. Ambassador’s PEPFAR Small Grants Program, a local non-governmental organization, Blissful Life for Women and Children, will provide training to the beneficiaries of the micro-grants in the areas of business and vocational skills and trade mentorship, and will receive trade articles and supplies. Ten older orphans and vulnerable children whose parents are living with HIV will also benefit from the training”, the statement stated.

 

At an event held in Lagos and attended by senior local government officials, health, and community leaders, Acting U.S. Consul General Will Steuer said, “The people and government of the United States continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria and Nigerian families in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

“Today’s event highlights the importance of supporting families, especially children who are affected by HIV/AIDS through programs that not only support treatment for the infected, but also to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of families affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as the PEPFAR Small Grants Program seeks to do.”

Beneficiaries of the various training programs are expected to empower themselves and their families by building small businesses that will create more reliable income flows and improve their standard of living.

The U.S.-Nigeria partnership on HIV/AIDS began in 2004 through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). From 2004 to 2016, United States support for HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support programs in Nigeria has totaled more than 4.3 billion U.S. dollars in support of the Nigeria HIV/AIDS response.

 

 

Celebrating Ogwezzy-Ndisika, first female professor, UNILAG Mass Comm

> By Funmi Falobi <

History was made as the Council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), recently confirmed Mrs. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika as the first female professor, Mass Communication department.

Ogwezzy-Ndisika whose specialization straddles Communication for Development, Public Relations and Advertising was confirmed on Monday, June 5, 2017 making her the first female professor of the department in a record time spanning a 16-year stint as a lecturer in the Mass Communication department of UNILAG.

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Prof. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika

According to her, “It’s like a dream, I am still in disbelief, but it’s a reality now to be at the peak of one’s profession”. While admitting that it has not been easy, she said, “lots of hard work passed through the grill. At every stage in the university, you must meet a panel of experts. It’s a big relief I won’t meet it again. It’s a big relief and above all, it is the Lord’s doing.”

Commending the people who have been part of her feat, she said, “The university management should be commended. If you do your work, and meet the criteria for promotion, you will be promoted. I appreciate all my teachers. It has been through the grace of God, hardwork and the good people around me”, she said.

Recalling her journey through the years as a lecturer in the Mass Communication department, Ogwezzy-Ndisika who had previously served as Head of Department, alluded her feat to God.   “I was not born when the department was established but now, I’ve made history in the department. You will know that it’s the finger of God”, she said.

Commenting on her feat, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Director, International Press Centre (IPC) noted that her confirmation into the professorial status was ‘very welcome’, describing her as a ‘thorough bred academic and professional’. “She has made enormous intellectual contributions to media professionalism and development,” Arogundade said.

Comments from former students were in unison that she is hardworking, diligent, persistent and intelligent and so “she deserves it”.

Mr.Biodun Elugbaju, a graduate from the department and a journalist with Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), said, “She has all it takes, she has the charisma and that’s the basic background for anyone in academia. She’s brilliant.”

“I am happy for her. She has worked to deserve such a position. I am not surprised at all.   I respect Prof. Ogwezzy,” said Dr. Kehinde Oyesomi, a graduate of the department and lecturer at the Covenant University.

On next step now that she is at the peak of her career, she told sdnonline: “my task now is to push other people under me up!”.

Professor Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika holds a B.A. in Linguistics and Communication, University of Port-Harcourt; PGD, M.Sc. in Mass Communication, University of Lagos, M.A. in Gender and Development, University of Sussex, England; and PhD, in Communication Arts, University of Ibadan.

Furthermore, she is a recipient of ELF Petroleum Coy Ltd and British Chevening scholarships; laureate of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA); laureate of the African Association of Political Science, (AAPS)/Harry Frank Guggenheim (HFG); and 1991 best graduating student in Department of Linguistics and Communication, University of Port Harcourt.

In addition, she is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (MNIPR); Associate Registered Practitioner of Advertising (arpa); member, Association of Communication Scholars &Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN); African Council for Communication Education (ACCE); Association of Women in Development (AWID); Association for Promoting Nigerian Languages and Culture (APNILAC); and International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR).

She is also a member of the editorial board of a leading national newspaper; has attended various local and international conferences; and published articles and books locally and internationally. She joined the services of the University of Lagos as Lecturer II in 2001.

 

… As WACC/IPC bridge poverty conditions in Lagos grass root communities

IMG_20150703_142133>By Funmi Falobi<

It is a fact that Africa is endowed with huge mineral resources and human capacity. However, in the midst of plenty, a great number of the people of the continent wallow in abject poverty, lacking basic amenities and infrastructures to make life comfortable. One of the reasons for this state is due to the fact that most political leaders in the continent are not doing enough in the development and provision of basic infrastructure to ensure that the citizens have quality standard of living.

Nigeria, the acclaimed giant of Africa is also affected by this as poverty rate is on the increase and citizens live below one dollar ($1) a day.  Citizens, especially those in the grass root communities do not have access to basic infrastructural development and social amenities that will make life comfortable for them.

Though there are a number of policies by the political leadership and government agencies to address the poverty conditions of the citizens, implementation of such policies are often not citizens-driven, reaching the very poor, but focused on the urban areas, which invariably is for the benefit of the elite.

While government alone cannot provide all the basic needs, it is expected of those in power to provide basic amenities for the mass of the people, majority of who are in the grassroots communities, facing a number of poverty conditions due to the lack of basic social amenities such as portable water, roads, conducive schools for children, etc, as is befitting to give them a sense of belonging as citizens in their own country.

It was as part of bridging the poverty conditions faced by rural/ grassroot communities and to ensure that grass root communities in Lagos State, the commercial nerve centre and most populous city in Nigeria are given a facelift and benefit from government’s social provisioning, that the International Press Centre (IPC) through a project with support of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) worked with some journalists to interact with local community stakeholder groups in eight communities in the State on how to get government attention to provide basic amenities.

The eight communities, which served as a pilot for the project include: Erejuwa- Makoko and Isale Iwaya in Yaba Local Council Development Area, Otumara in Lagos Mainland Local Government  Area, Obele Oniwala in Surulere Local Government Area, Offin/Lajo/Oreta in Ikorodu Local Government  Area, Boshoa Community Development Association in Shomolu Local Government Area, Itu-Agan Waterside in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area and Iyagbe in Oriade Local Council Development Area.

Outcomes from the project, which involved a number of activities including capacity building for journalists and parley with community members working together to demand provision of social amenities from government agencies, saw the government attending to some poverty conditions in the communities by providing basic amenities like clearing of blocked drainages and road construction, rehabilitation of schools, provision of street lights, etc.

Speaking at the public presentation of Summary of Highlights and Outcomes of the IPC/WACC Solution-driven/Poverty reporting project, Nigeria, the Secretary General, WACC Africa Region, Lekan Otufodunrin commended the efforts of IPC and urged journalists to embark on more community reporting that will impact the lives of the grassroots.

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“It’s one thing for grants to be given and it’s another thing for the project to be done or carried out. WACC sees Human Right as everybody’s rights that should be guaranteed and so it supports organizations to carry out various projects across the world”, Otufodunrin said.

Commending the outcomes achieved, he added: “This project is a welcome one. Poverty is real in Africa, in Nigeria, people live under one dollar a day. Beyond this, people should get back to the community and ask questions and hold the government accountable on their development needs”.

Similarly, Francis Abayomi, Executive Director, Peace and Development Project, enjoined journalists to be more community driven in their reports and play desired role to bring it to the fore burner. “When you engage the grassroots, you give them a voice. We can have more of these programmes in order to leverage on this in the country. Other stakeholders can also take it further.”

On his part, Executive Director, Journalists for Democratic Rights, Adewale Adeoye, said one major problem of the media is that most the times, “we report about the elites and the rich in the society, but this publication reflects the echoes from the valleys.”

Adeoye, who reviewed the publication on the summary of outcome of the project noted: “Over the years, the Nigerian media has witnessed its worst decline. … The travails, pains and pangs of the poor, the downtrodden, the marginalized majority are left unattended to. Even when stories of poverty are reported, the media only scratch the surface. Pictures about poverty follow the trend of opportunism instead of raising critical issues of underdevelopment”.

He added that the outcomes of the project as captured in the publication, “redefines the current role of the Nigerian media by making a conscious attempt to draw back the missing sheep. The publication captures the strategic role that the media can play in advancing the cause of   the people at the lowest layer of the ladder.”

Speaking on behalf of the communities, a representative of Boshua community in Shomolu LGA, Adewunmi Moses while commending the initiative said two roads – Apata and Bolaji Omupo in the area  had received government attention. “Apata is being graded while Bolaji Omupo is at the level of completion”, he said.

Tajudeen Bello, representing Obele Oniwala, in Surulere LGA said the over 40 years old Municipal School in Obele Odan which was in a dilapidated condition is now refurbished and fitted with modern fixtures for learning. Adding, “solar street lights have been provided by the Lagos state government to the area. Michael Ogun and Durjaiye roads have also been done. We urge journalists to be visiting communities, which speeds up development”, he noted.

Infrastructural deficit, knowledge gap, impede open access governance in Nigeria

By Funmi Falobi

The Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies (NIALS), Professor Adedeji Adekunle has identified infrastructural deficit, inadequate man power and knowledge gap as hurdle to open access governance in Nigeria.

This was disclosed at a stakeholder’s forum on open access, organised by the Creative Commons, in partnership with the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies (NIALS). The programme, which focused on creative, common and access to content, brought together government agencies, members of the academia, lawyers, analysts, students, business owners, technological start-ups and social media experts.

Adekunle, who was represented by the Director of Studies at NIALS, Prof Anmi Awah, said although infrastructure development is key,

“we will not wait until we have a wide spectrum of infrastructure before we follow the rule guiding use of materials online which should be followed to the letter.”

 Consequently, Head of Regulatory Department of Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. Michael Akpan, said that the Federal Government will amend the Copyright Act to make it more digitally-compliant.

According to him, the country’s new copyright system, like similar regimes, reflects key fundamental policy thrust.

He said the system was designed “to strengthen the copyright regime in Nigeria, to enhance the competitiveness of its creative industries in a digital and knowledge-based global economy; to effectively protect the rights of authors to ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts while also providing appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works, encourage cultural interchange and advance public welfare.”

Akpan noted the new draft bill for the protection of intellectual properties in Nigeria expanded the scope of limitations and exceptions to make allowances for more free uses of creative works particularly in the context of educational and non commercial activities.

He stressed that the task of shaping copyright for the digital network environment should not be restricted to the legislative dimensions of copyright law, but must take into account, how copyright is managed in practice.

He added that the reforms of the copyright system should be beyond new legislative provisions and that, changes in policies, copyright culture and practice may in fact be more relevant than changes to the legislation.

He said that open access is important to the growth of the information society as information and knowledge has become the greatest building blocks for societal development.

 

“Nigeria is a developing country at the throes of maximizing its huge human and natural resources. One of the roads to achieving this is the platform provided by open access which provides free online access to information which anyone may require,” he said.

He added, “Nigeria is endowed with a population predominantly made of youths with undeniable creative capacities who can utilize this platform to gain knowledge and how that will eventually change the fortune of our country”.

 

Technical Lead, Creative Common Nigeria, Mr. Kayode Yusuf said that the forum is set to create awareness and support for open access among stakeholders in Nigeria.

“For a country in the process of reforming its copyright laws to align with current requirements of the digital age, the concept of ‘open’ cannot be ignored”, he noted, adding, “that it is clear that the philosophy of ‘openness’ in any form of knowledge governance is still a strange phenomenon in Nigeria. The level of awareness and scale of implementation of the different models of openness in knowledge governance in the country are insignificant in proportion to its size, needs and population.”

He said the concept of open access has a lot of potentials for Nigeria as it will open more access to data, information and education that are needed to galvanize development.

“We will continue to engage the various stakeholders and entrenched the merits of open in addition to the fact that it is in perfect alignment with digital technology as the principal means of knowledge production and dissemination today. The philosophy of ‘open’ in knowledge governance and its merits can be seen in both the public and private sectors in education, research, governance,” he said.

Safeguarding journalists rights, vital for sustaining democracy-Ubani

By Funmi Falobi & Tobi Oyetunde<

Nigerian journalists have been commended for roles played in the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria even as the media is urged to do more in the area of enlightening the people.

Speaking at a recent roundtable of the Nigerian Journalists’ Safety Initiative on the theme, “Safeguarding Press Freedom and Safety of Journalists among Rising Conflict”, former Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Monday Ubani said journalists have done so much but they still need to do more to educate the society.

In safeguarding press freedom and safety of journalists in the country, Ubani called on the Federal Government to enact modern and robust laws that will help safeguard journalists. He also urged the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to ensure that there is adequate and strict compliance to journalism ethics by professionals in discharging their duties.

Ubani, who was represented by Barrister Evans Ufeli  at the event, organized by the International Press Centre (IPC) Lagos, with the support of Open Society Foundations (OSF), pointed out that the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria does not sufficiently give room for press freedom. He noted that a strong freedom of the press,  ensures informed, active and engaged citizenry, and therefore called on journalists and media groups to work for the enforcement of Chapter 2 of the Constitution for them to be able to perform their function as the fourth realm of the estate.

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“Strong freedom of press is essential to ensure the safety of journalist and eradicate impunity. Section 22 and 39 of the 1999 constitutions (as amended) guarantees freedom of expression but in spite of all these constitutional provisions, there is no clear indication of strong and special forms of protection for the press to carry out its constitutional obligations without interference, threat to life or extra-judicial repercussion”, he said.

“Section 45 of the same Nigeria constitution curbs the freedom given by Section 22 and 39. This kind of curtailment is abundantly manifested in Nigeria media environment with draconian legislations and decrees like the Sedition act.” He added.

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Lamenting the various attacks on journalists where some have been killed, he reiterated the importance of maintaining true press freedom in the country. “The special protection that strong freedom of the press should provide journalists and media workers should be holistic to include preventive, protective and pre-emptive measures.”

He therefore urged government to make the environment conducive and safe for journalists to discharge their duties of holding the government accountable to the people.

Mr. Tive Denedo, former Campaign Director of Media Rights Agenda and CEO of Sunfair Communications also decried continuous assaults of journalists and beckoned the pen pushers to position themselves to ensure Nigeria attain the state where there will be true press freedom in the country.

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“No government official will offer you freedom, you must fight and take it forcefully. Journalists should not keep quite when under threat but must always open up on any threat they face from anybody as they go about discharging their duties”, he said.

How grassroot members can engender development via budget tracking and monitoring

-By ‘SANMI FALOBI & TOBI OYETUNDE

Community members from Lagos grassroot communities have been told that they can use budgetary provisions to engender development in their communities. This was the outcome from a 2-day budget literacy and monitoring training organized for leaders of community based groups from Boshoa, Orile Shomolu, Araromi Odo, Bashua and Bajulaiye areas in Shomolu local government, Lagos.

The two-day training which had experts on specific subject matter speaking to enlighten participants on what to know about engaging in budgeting process and monitoring the implementation of social provisioning targets in the budget at local and state levels was organized under the Strengthening Citizens in Electoral Processes (SCEEP) project being implemented in Lagos state by the International Press Centre (IPC) across six local government areas; Shomolu, Lagos Mainland, Surulere, Ifako Ijaiye, Ikorudu and Amuwon Odofin. The SCEEP project is with the support of Actionaid Nigeria and the UKAID/DFID.

According to the organizers, the broad objective of the training aims to broaden the knowledge of targeted community leaders/activists on the whole gamut of the budgeting process so that it can be used as an instrument of making government provide social facilities and development.

“Budgets can show if a government is pro-poor or pro-rich, based on what the budgeted money would be spent on which may have vary effects on different population groups. For example, a government that budgets more money for education, health care, roads, etc can be said to be pro-poor or pro-people”, Lanre Arogundade, Director, IPC stated.

“Budgets are factors in politics and political participation. The people have a right to be involved in the budgeting process, that is why overtime, trade unions, businesses, industries, civil society groups and other interest groups have always sought to be involved in the process and that is why this budget literacy training is being designed in such a way that community representatives can be in a position to make inputs into the budget of our local government or the state, and also be able to follow up the implementation, through monitoring and tracking”, he added.

“In summary, we want to be budget literate, to be a budget tracker and to be a budget monitor so that we can hold our government and leaders accountable and ensure good governance, by making sure that governments do what it says it would do in the budget, which is what accountability and transparency is all about”, he charged.

Taking participants through the rudiments of the budgeting process, Lere Oyeniyi from the Institute for Media and Society shared perspectives on the key concepts in budgeting and features/characteristics of a good budget, how to prepare budget using case studies of household budget, organizational budgeting and government budgeting processes, understanding the functions of budget as a tool for control, management, planning and social provisioning and the process in developing simple budgets to draw lessons on the inter-relation between allocation and utilization of resources in social provisioning, amongst others.

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“Budgeting takes place in a human environment and it affects people’s behavior, depending on a number of factors such as: the way budget was drawn up, involvement in preparation or lack of it, manner of communication, education and training and the manner of implementation” he said. “A good budget should be motivating, challenging, based on Realistic Assumptions, prepared bottoms-Up & not Top Down, be detailed, measurable and assignable, be practical to implement, be attainable and be reviewable in the light of changing circumstances or reality”, he added.

In his own presentation, Micheal Awopetu from the Centre for Ethics and Cultural Orientation took participants through understanding the importance of budgets and how budgets are used in the planning of government administration including highlighting the different stakeholders in the budgeting process, with emphasis on how citizens can engage with the budget processes, viz-a-viz the key entry points for citizen’s engagement, as well as the concept of participatory budgeting, shared good practices from a rights-based approach for community engagement with all stages of the budget process.

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“We should engage the budget at different levels and not just stay aside as if it does not concern you. When you speak out, your representatives can take your issues further, but when you don’t, they spend the money the way they like on your behalf” he said. “You can use the annual report by respective ministries to look at what is allocated to your community and how the budget affects you. Engagement with relevant officials and your representatives, lobbying, community participation through counter funding and physical inspection and monitoring of the stages of ongoing projects are tools that you should use to ensure that your community is not left out. You should not just rely on your representatives only, their personal aides and legislative assistants as well as other officers or appointees in government can be very instrumental in changing things” he added, amongst others.

According to Stanley Achonu, Senior Manager Projects of BUDGIT, there is a great need for citizens to engage the budgeting process to ensure effective execution.

He said, “you have to be involved in budget planning because it makes you participate in how government and tax payers money are being spent in a way that it will be beneficial to you. You have to stop complaining because complaining doesn’t solve any problem rather you should start acting and the action should be a peaceful and engaging one. The budget of a country is a law and it’s our duty as citizens of a country to inquire from our legislators to know what is allocated for our communities inside the budget.”

In addition, he made the people know that budget participation is a continuous process starting from budget planning to completion of the project.

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“Budget involvement is a continuous thing, you start by engaging the Councilors and legislative members representing your constituency. Create and maintain a working relationship with your representatives, because they are the ones representing your interest both at the state and federal level. List your community needs in order of priority and present it to those representing you. Hold regular meetings with these people especially your counselors and these meetings should be peaceful and void of fight and riots.”

Participants at the training lauded the organizers in bringing the training to the grassroots,as it is a form of exposure and making the people know their right and how to be involved in budget process.

According to Peter Uche, a participants from Bajulaye: “the training is a very good one as it expose us to how to analyze and trace government budget. It also opened our eyes to knowing what to do as citizens when it comes to budget and also helps in enlightening other members of the community”.

Another participant,  Toyin Badmus from Orile Shomolu, urged other participants in the training to always speak out whenever they are in need of anything from the government and they should channel their actions in the right way that the government will know they need certain infrastructures in their communities.

Media, CSOs partner to report abandoned corruption cases

– By Funmi Falobi –

As Nigeria intensifies the fight against corruption, a select of media professionals and civil Society Organizations (CSO) across Nigeria are partnering to bring to limelight, abandoned and hibernating high profile corruption cases under an initiative entitled,   “Reporting Until Something Happens (RUSH)”.  The  initiative which recently commenced with a 3-day CSO/Media case tracking and judicial performance oversight workshop in Enugu aims to increase reporting on hibernating high profile corruption cases  in order to engender public demand for speedy completion and as well get the government to prioritizing the cases in its anti-corruption agenda.

Speaking at the workshop organized by the Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by the British Council,  Emmanuel Uche, Anti Corruption Programme Manager, Justice for All (J4A) said that since the inception of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), only eight high profile cases have so far been convicted, adding that out of the eight,  one was upturned by the court making it only seven convicted, thus there is the is need to bring to the front burner these cases that are either hibernating or gone to sleep in the country.

“Most of the cases with the EFCC are either been stopped, hibernated or swept under the carpet. This can only be so on sheer impunity”, he said. He noted that there is need to empower the media and civil society organizations to take up high profile corruption cases as well as for the judiciary to be up and doing.emmanuel

“For the anti- corruption campaign to be successful, the judiciary must demonstrate independence, impartiality, integrity, accountability and transparency to sustain the rule of law.

“Judiciary is arbiter of not only democracy but political, social and economic development. Nobody will come to the economy where there is no rule of law, respect for rights. For there to be government of the people, by the people and for the people, there must be a rule of law in place, if not, forget political development”, he added.

According to him: “Judicial systems need to provide timely access to fair and impartial judicial services and uphold the rule of law consistently.”

emekaSimilarly, Emeka Ononamadu, Executive Director, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) called for synergy between the media and the CSO in the fight against corruption in the nation.

walterAlso speaking, Dr. Walter Duru, Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) urged the media to sustain reportage of corruption and humanize effect of corruption in the society in order to engage citizens in the fight against corruption.