NGO mobilises youths as transparency, accountability champions in 100,000 wards

MR Hamzat Lawal, the Founder, Connected Development, an NGO, says the organisation is mobilising Nigerian youths as `Follow the Money Champions’ in over 100,000 wards in the country.

“The goal is to effectively track government public expenditure across the country to ensure transparency and accountability,” Lawal told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Kaduna.

He said that the NGO, with presence in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, would build the largest social mobilisation platform on transparency and accountability in the country.

“Currently, we are building the capacity of our young representatives in all the 774 Local Government Areas, and we will soon establish Follow the Money Champions in over 100,000 wards in the country.

“Most Nigerian communities do not have access to clean water, no quality healthcare service, no access to basic education and no access to good roads, while some have no communication network.

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“Therefore, having our champions in all the wards will enable us to bring more voices to the front burner and push the government to deliver quality services to the people and save under-five children from preventable deaths.

“We will also have a real-time update on government action or inactions, and put the information in the public domain to engage government to channel resources for the public good,” he said.

He also said that Connected Development, under its Follow the Money platform has commenced campus tour to equally mobilising youths in academic institutions across the country to document voices and hold the government to account.

He explained that the idea was to organise, educate and equip young people in academic institutions across Nigeria with the tool to document voices, amplify them using social media platforms and engage the government to act.

“This is because we cannot achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if young people do not talk to themselves and unify their voices to engage policy and decision-makers.

“Therefore, to achieve the SDGs, young people must take ownership of the goals, popularise the goals, engage in policy and decision making.

“We began the tour with the University of Jos, move to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and from there we will move to Bayero University Kano; proving a platform for young people to share ideas and information.

“More importantly, the youth will graduate and move to communities for the National Youth Service Corps. They will come across communities with no clean water, no access to basic education and healthcare services.

“We are training them on how to use their Smartphones to talk to the community, document their findings and amplify them on social media platform while engaging public servants,” he said.

Lawal pointed out that most public office holders, including ministries, departments and agencies were on twitter, facebook and other social media platforms.

“We believe that if we are able to provide the government with verifiable information, they will use it to inform policy and decision making, make budgetary allocation and releases.

“The young people can then track the money and hold the government to account; it will be win-win for everyone,” he added.

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