The Connected Development (CODE), a non-governmental organisation, said that it tracked N193bn spent on government projects across the country in 2020, towards ensuring accountability.
The Chief Executive, CODE and founder, ‘Follow The Money’, Mallam Hamzat B. Lawal, said this Friday in Abuja, at the formal launch of the group’s 42-page annual report titled: “Empowering Communities in a Pandemic”.
According to him, the CODE also tracked about N96bn of COVID-19 funds at states and federal levels in Nigeria, using its social accountability tool ‘Follow The Money’.
“When CODE set out in 2012, it had the sole purpose of bridging information gap between marginalised communities and their government, so that people in the communities can access basic human needs that will improve their lives. For every project’s money tracked, communities got to have a good standard of living and enjoyed dividends of democracy.
“Each year at CODE, we take a moment to reflect on our work, and review insights from engaging with marginalised communities, our learning and accomplishments. The year 2020 was a landmark year where we saw the impact of our work tested in many ways.
“Since our establishment in 2012, we have relied on our ability to challenge the status quo and demand accountability from the government to drive social change in the communities where we work.
“Many of which have accelerated timely intervention in healthcare, water and hygiene services, education, environment and structural development in hundreds of low-income communities in Nigeria and six other African countries,” Lawal said.
He said that with rising levels of poverty, inequality and despair, orchestrated by the impact of the COVID pandemic, CODE’s work of addressing systemic corruption in government and poor transparency and accountability, had become increasingly crucial.
He said that the group tracked COVID palliatives distribution in 232 communities.
Lawal said during COVID-19 lockdown, CODE came up with COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability in Africa (CTAP) campaign which offered CODE an opportunity to take its knowledge to six other African countries.
..Malawi Minister sacked after CODE’s intervention
Lawal said that from CODE’s intervention in Malawi, the President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, sacked the Minister of Labour for diverting COVID-19 resources for personal use.
He said that in Kenya, citizens were able to reject government’s proposal to acquire more loan from IMF and the World Bank because the information they got on ‘Follow the Money’ showed that all previous loans collected by government could not be accounted for.
Lawal said with support from ActionAid, CODE was mobilising young people, transferring knowledge and most importantly, forming key policies and decisions making around gender responsiveness which government didn’t have.
He also said that CODE had enhanced the capacity of grassroots community activists and campaigners in six states and the governments were more sensitive to issues that concerned girls and women.
On her part, Senior Programmes Manager, CODE, Ms Lucy James, said that CODE worked to demand for the domestication of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) at the wake of increased sexual and gender-based violence during COVID-19 lockdown.
She said that CODE also worked towards promoting gender inclusion in all spheres of the society, especially in leadership and governance and that for the first time, women in Obodo-Ugwa in Delta, participated at the community development committee meetings.