#Ifollow the Money Storms ABU Zaria …..Sensitises Students on Accountability, Transparency in Governance

By Alex Uangbaoje, Zaria

As part of effort at ensuring accountability and transparency in all sector of development in Nigeria, “I follow the money”, the largest accountability network of citizens in Africa on Tuesday stormed Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.

The network which is dedicated to tracking government and international spending in Nigeria and Africa at large mobilised and sensitised thousands of the university’s community on accountability and transparency in running public office.

The initiative which being championed by an NGO, Connected Development (CODE) charged the students on projects monitoring in their respective communities and state.

The National coordinator of CODE and chief champion of I follow the money, Malam Hazat Lawal, who spoke at the event tagged: “Follow the Money Campus Tour”, stressed that the tour was more concern about how money meant for particular project(s) were being utilised in a judicious and transparent manner especially at the grassroots levels.

He said, “for us, we believe that the academic space plays a huge role in development and they have potentials because when you look at research around the world it comes from the academics.

“You can only get research and statistics from the academics and we believe that young people have a role to play in nation building, leadership and democratic governance.

“So, we started this initiative called “Follow the Money Campus Tour” with University of Jos and today we are here in ABU, Zaria.”

Lawal said the essence of the programme was to equip the young people with tools, information and organise them better on how to hold their government to account.

“And more importantly, to have a dialogue or conversation between students and lecturers, we have doctors and professors in our panel.

“Also to invite other Federal Government Agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Crimes Commission (ICPC) and National Human Right Commission just to share what they are doing as regulatory agency or enforcement agency.

“We can then collaborate more as students, when they leave the academic space they have a compulsory one year NYSC scheme, this skills and knowledge will be useful to them during the scheme to leverage on technology.

“For every young person today is on social media because they have smart phones, so how can they document voices at the grassroots where people cannot easily reach and send us low time information.

“So we can form policy and decision making so that Nigeria could be on the pathway of achieving sustainable development goals,” he said.

He said “Follow the Money Campus Tour” was restricted to higher institutions like Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, adding that they had identified ABU as the rallying point.

Lawal observed that for Nigeria to develop as a country, there was every need for the youth to embrace peace, tolerate each other, saying that the population of Nigeria remained the biggest resources for the country.

Meanwhile Ziliha Lawal, the Kaduna State Chapter Lead, said the programme was meant to spur young people to start taking ownership of social accountability space.

“We want the young people to hold government accountable, we want young people to accelerate sustainable development goals.

“Basically, the engagement is on social accountability and transparency and also the SDGs.

“We choose to conduct the programme on campuses because we have young people in campuses who are the leaders of tomorrow.

“So, for us, it’s time to make these leaders get prepare, it’s time for these leaders to know that they are leaders of now and tomorrow, so let them start taking ownership of the action now.”

According to her the ultimate goal of the entire programme was to have young people talk and hold their government countable for their words and actions with a view to accelerating growth and development.

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