Connected Development, a Non-Government Organization (NGO), has disclosed that it has successfully tracked several capital projects in 181 communities across 25 states in Nigeria worth 113.6 million dollars, since 2012.
The organization added that their tracking exercise helped in improving over 4 million rural lives.
CODE’s Founder and CEO, Mr. Hamzat Lawal, made the revelation, during a press conference to mark the 7th year anniversary in Abuja.
He said CODE’s ‘Follow The Money’ initiative advocates and tracks Government/International aid spending in Health, WASH, and education, across many rural communities to ensure and promote open government and service delivery.
“Grassroots communities in Nigeria are constantly deprived of access to basic human needs like health care, water, and education, despite the fact that billions of naira of tax generated revenues are appropriated for the provision of health facilities, teaching aid, water and clean energy infrastructure in these regions. Most times, these funds do not reach the communities.
“Disturbed by this anomaly, CODE is providing marginalized communities in Africa with the resources to amplify their voices by creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building the capacity of citizens on innovative strategies to hold their elected representatives accountable through Follow The Money.
“With global expertise and reach, we empower communities, influence policies and build capacities. CODE carries out its mission with independence and integrity with the sole purpose of engineering social and economic progress. Our commitment towards participatory governance, capacity and community building, restructuring community governance, monitoring and evaluation creates effective and sustainable programs even within the most challenging and hard to reach rural environments,” he said.
Lawal, who also disclosed that their anti-corruption campaign tagged ‘Follow The Money’, recently emerged the winner of the 2019 ‘Council of Europe’s Democracy Innovation Award’, noted that the award should serve as a wake up call for Nigerian leaders to act more responsibly and improve inclusive public service delivery in the nation.
He 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 also ensure that government funds and International aid channelled towards constituency projects are appropriately utilized.
On her part, Kevwe Oghide, CODE’s Lead Communication officer, expressed worry that Government funds and International aids that are earmarked for developmental projects are mostly syphoned, a situation which deepens poverty and widens the inequality gap.
Her words: “In this era of democratic dispensation, citizens not only have the right, but also the power to petition government to implement development projects and deliver improved public service.
“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.
Highpoint of the program was the unveiling and launching of Follow The Money’s new corporate identity in line with its mission to track Government funds and International aid funding.