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Nigerian anti-corruption group tracks over N1.2billion meant for 69 communities

– Connected Development (CODE) has launched its 2018 annual report

– In the report, CODE emphasised its effort to spur stronger and inclusive growth for grassroots communities in Africa

– The report was launched alongside the presentation of Follow The Money’s award as the 2019 UN Sustainable Development Goals mobilizer of the year

Connected Development (CODE) has launched its 2018 annual report that highlights the impact of its social accountability initiative, Follow The Money.

Follow The Money has so far succeeded in tracking an estimate of NGN 1,289,579,737 (USD 3.6 million) budgeted for projects in 69 grassroots communities across water, sanitation and hygiene, primary healthcare and education sectors, in the year 2018.

In the report, CODE emphasised its effort to spur stronger and inclusive growth for grassroots communities in Africa by providing them with the resources to amplify their voices; creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building the capacity of citizens on how to hold their elected representatives accountable.

CODE’s chief executive, Hamzat Lawal, in his introduction speech at the launch of the report said: “It was a year of resilience and remarkable achievement.”

READ ALSO: Gov Wike sacks Rivers commissioner of power

He continued: “Our priority in 2018 was to track sub-national budgets and ensure that Federal allocations to States and Local Governments reached grassroots communities for socio-economic development.

“CODE activated Follow The Money for 9 local government projects and 41 state government projects championing 5 advocacy campaigns for improved first-mile health infrastructure and services, 60 advocacy campaigns for improved education infrastructures for children to learn in schools, and 6 advocacy campaigns for communities to access safe, clean water and we impacted 1,292,848 grassroots people in 21 states of Nigeria.

“To promote sustainability and ingrain ownership of the Follow The Money model, we trained community champions, religious leaders and individuals to organise community engagement activities in Yobe, Adamawa, Borno, Plateau and Kano states.

“In hindsight, it can be said that CODE has experienced yet another year of growth and influence. This is evident in the fact that Follow The Money is now the largest citizen-led socio-digital accountability movement in Africa, driving grassroots participation in mainstream issues and nudging critical stakeholders to hold governments accountable.”

The report also featured CODE’s tracking of spending in the extractive sector through its conflict and fragility campaign, aimed at mitigating human rights and conflicts issues to improve the livelihoods of grassroots communities in the Niger-Delta region.

CODE engaged policy makers, stakeholders and beneficiaries, on the effects of artisanal mining activities in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

It also features Follow The Money’s expansion to other African countries in Kenya, Liberia, Cameroon and The Gambia.

According to CODE’s chief operating officer, Ojonwa Miachi, the organisation faced key challenges including threats for exposing misappropriation of funds, poor access to data to enable tracking of government funds, security issues in north-east of Nigeria, and limited funds in reaching more grassroots communities.

The report was launched alongside the presentation of Follow The Money’s award as the 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals mobilizer of the year.

The presentation was supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, OSIWA, Oxfam Nigeria, Luminate and Indigo Trust.

Lawal dedicated the award to rural grassroots communities across Africa, the CODE team for their resilience in promoting the Follow The Money mission and donor agencies who contributed to actualising its mission.

READ ALSO: I’m not aware Saraki’s houses were seized by EFCC – Agency’s spokesperson says

Meanwhile, CODE recently commended the new policy by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) that seeks to grant Local Government Areas (LGAs) financial autonomy and address gross misappropriation, corruption, money laundering, and security threats at the grassroots level.

The NFIU recently released guidelines barring financial institutions from allowing transactions from State Joint Local Government Accounts (SJLGA), and approving that funds be disbursed to local governments’ accounts, strengthening the financial autonomy of the LGAs.

Reacting to this announcement, Lawal commended NFIU for the development, stating that the policy caters to the welfare of the people at the grassroots who are marginalised and discounted because funds meant for the development of their communities were diverted.

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