“Follow the Money” Empowers 1,292,848 Rural Dwellers with Knowledge on how to Track Development Funds

……builds Capacity of Champions in Kaduna

By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna

Follow the Money, an accountability and transparency project of the Connected Development, also known as CODE, said it has reached about, 1,292,848 rural lives in 69 communities, in 21 states across Nigeria with knowledge on how to track funds met for development in their communities in 2018 alone.

The United Nations recently gave the SDG Action Awards to the organization as global mobiliser of the year for advancing the global movement for the Sustainable Development Goals in the most transformative, impactful and innovative way.

In his presentation at a one day capacity building training for Follow the Money champions in Kaduna at the weekend, Mukhtar Halilu, CODE Community Engagement Assistant, said they also reached 523,000 rural dwellers in 21 communities in 17 states in 2017.

According to Mukhtar, “Follow the Money” was born out of the idea to empower marginalized rural communities, so they can stand up and ask their government various questions regarding their development.

He said people mostly regard rural dwellers as villagers who are dump, even when they are being ill treated, this he added that they CODE found out they are not truly dump, adding that their handicap was because they don’t really have knowledge of what to do.

“They are not really dump as you think, if you empower them with knowledge, they will take charge of their community on how government and other development agencies funds met for their community are spent.” He added.

He explained that part of what the organization do for citizens is to promote access to information, encourage participation in budget processes, building capacity on how to hold government accountable, promote transparency, amongst others.

Mukhtar further said at the end of the day, the organization expects that corruption would have been fought and reduced in the system. And public officials held accountable.

On his part, CODE Project Officer in Kaduna, Kingsley Agu, said in following the money, 16 projects were tracked in the state in the 2014 Universal Basic Education (UBE) Action Plan and 7 projects from the 2015 Action Plan.

He explained that the UBE project aim is to strengthen the capacity of School Monitoring Teams which comprises Community Based Associations (CBAs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Parent Teachers Associations (PTA), Nigeria Union of Teacher (NUT) and the Schools Based Management Committee (SBMC) to conduct high quality tracking of the UBEC spending in 70 schools in Kaduna State within a span of 3 years.

The goals according to him, is “enhancing citizen’s participation by establishing a School Monitoring Team responsible for ensuring effective service delivery to increase demands while setting citizen’s monitoring framework using data from the ground.

“Strengthening of existing monitoring agents and stakeholders such as community based organizations and associations to be directly linked to reports on State Universal Basic Education spending on basic education.

“Strengthening project Linkages between the government, citizens and investigative reports from media organizations (The Cable, Sahara Reporters, Premium Times), civic tech organizations like BudgIT, and Procurement Monitor.”

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