Blog

19 Feb
0

Win Free Music Production at Waliyanne Studio, Senegal!

Download the instrumental of “Music as a messenger of democracy” album via the link in our bio. Write your own verse and record a one minute video using the instrumental. Share Video on Instagram and tag @yiaga using #MusicForDemocracy hashtag as Caption.

Video with the highest likes gets free production at Waliyanne Studio Senegal.

TERMS & CONDITIONS
There is no entry fee for this competition.
All contestants must be following Yiaga Africa on @yiaga on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
All contestants must be 18 years of age by 1st January 2020 in order to participate.
All contestants under the age of 18 (eighteen) years must have permission from their parent or guardian to enter the competition.
Secondary school (high school) students and students of tertiary institutions are welcome to participate in the competition
This competition is based in Nigeria but is open to all Africans in West African countries.
The Music as a Messenger of Democracy allows soloists, duos, trios and groups to compete in the Challenge.
The Music as a Messenger of Democracy Challenge is designed to provide positive and encouraging performance experience for everyone. We ask competitors and friends to support us in maintaining this positive environment at all times.
You formally approve Yiaga Africa, World Movement for Democracy and the African Movement for Democracy to use your name, image and audio to promote both yourself and the Music as a Messenger of Democracy Project while you are involved in the Challenge and any time after the challenge. This promotion can take place on any marketing mediums which achieve exposure for both parties at any time in the future.
Additional prizes and categories may be added at the organizer’s discretion.
You hereby warrant that such composition(s) is wholly original to you, and are not subject to any third-party rights or encumbrances for the Challenge and the performance and inclusion of such as part of the competition do not infringe the rights of any third party nor any statutory rights in any material
The Challenge organizers decisions are final.
Anyone disrespecting this will be asked to remove themselves from the event. Entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions
Contestants/Acts who fail to abide by the Challenge Terms and Conditions may be disqualified.

Notification
The Challenger winner will be notified on Yiaga Africa social media accounts and a Yiaga Africa staff will personally call the winner.

Transfer and utilization of Prizes
Prizes are non-transferable, and where applicable

DOWNLOAD DEMO

Read More
19 Feb
0

De-registration of Political parties and next steps for electoral reform – Moshood Isah

The deregistration of not less than 74 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission may not have gone down well with some stakeholders especially those political parties that fell by the side in what can be described as massive retrenchment of political parties but overall it seems to be an action in the right direction. After a comprehensive review of the 2019 general elections, the commission revealed it had no choice but to register those political parties because they breached the requirement for registration of political parties under section 225 of the Nigerian constitution.

None of the 74 parties won at least 25% of the votes cast in one state of the federation during the 2019 presidential election neither could they win a single local government in a state during the Governorship elections. This basically means the Presidential candidates in all those 74 political parties (if indeed they all have presidential candidates) could not even secure a quarter of the votes in their own states. Similarly, governorship candidates in those deregistered parties could not deliver at least a local government area during election, not even the local Government Area or the ward they came from. One can be bold enough to say that many of these candidates could not even deliver their own polling units for themselves during the 2019 elections. Thus, there is also no gain saying that these parties could not secure either a state assembly seat, chairmanship or councillorship position in the cause of their existence.

Although the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) asked the electoral umpire to rescind its decision to deregister the parties due to pending court action instituted by 33 political parties but then filing a matter in court alone without restraining order could not have restricted the commission’s decision. To be frank, these amongst many other reasons are indeed enough ground dispatch any association that seem to be taking space in not just the ballot paper but time and logistics in the entire electoral process. Among those that lauded this decision include chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano), who said the   development would make life easier for Nigerians during elections. He said the target of his panel was to further, trim down the number of political parties in the country to a reasonable figure of either five or eight.

As a matter of fact, the majority of these political parties didn’t play any major role in enhancing competitiveness of the electoral process. Instead most of them are mere platforms waiting to adopt grieving candidates or endorse a popular candidate. This development not only provides opportunity for citizens to build a stronger political movement but also provides opportunity for those affected to team up and build a formidable party.

Beyond deregistration of irrelevant political parties which is no doubt a huge step in sanitizing the ballot paper, electoral logistics and ultimately plans for elections, the call for electoral reform should now lead the fore ahead of upcoming off-circle elections in the country. Thus, constituting of a 56-man Steering and Constitution Review Committee may not have come at a better time.

Tops among the list of issues calling for constitutional review is the electoral act begging for assent even before the 2019 General elections. The challenges of the just concluded Kogi and Bayelsa elections will provide the committee an opportunity to revisit the electoral act to infuse critical issues like the legalization of the use of card reader as the only means of accreditation and electronic transmission of results amongst other critical issues.

While the number of political parties may be considered a sizeable, the lack of internal democracy within the major political parties remains a major conundrum to candidate nomination and selection process. Similarly, the fact that our elections has recently become a subject of litigation means electoral justice delivery should be core in electoral reform. Recent controversial supreme court judgement has again raised more questions than answers with regards to electoral justice delivery and again reignited more reasons why the judiciary should not be the ultimate electoral umpire.

Other issues around electronic transmission with manual process as back up, trust in the judiciary to deliver electoral justice are key issues to electoral reform with citizens participation remains the most fundamental aspect that legitimize the entire process. The fact that Nigeria is finding it hard to hit the 50% voter turnout mark for elections is not only worrisome but a huge threat to electoral democracy. This further depicts that citizens are either losing confidence in the electoral process or the entire democratic system. There is need to invest and build citizens consciousness to inspire citizens political participation especially in the electoral process, so that only the vote of Nigerians will determine who holds the position of authority. With this, citizens can be assured that they have the power to vote out or even recall representatives that are not delivering dividends of democracy.

Moshood Isah is the media Officer of Yiaga Africa

He tweets @moshoodpm

Read More
08 Feb
0

Yiaga Africa marks 13 years of civic activism, community organizing and democracy promotion

Today we celebrate 13 years of civic activism, community organizing and sustained advocacy for participatory and representative democracy. From a student association at the University of Jos, Yiaga Africa is evolving as a powerful movement of active citizens and changemakers who are positively disrupting the political space and pushing the needle on democratic accountability and governance in Africa. This is made possible through purposeful leadership, dedicated and hardworking staff, strong organizational governance practices, stakeholder support and a culture of learning and reflection. We appreciate all partners, friends, mentors and members of our community for the solidarity, support, guidance and unshaken faith in our dreams and the promise of democracy. You all are our greatest asset.

As we turn 13, we are reminded that our vision of a democratic Africa where citizens assert their sovereignty beyond voting during elections is far from being achieved. Although citizen satisfaction with democracy is dwindling, we are emboldened by their continued preference for and commitment to democracy as exemplified by the courage and resilience against poor governance, shrinking democratic space and depreciating quality of elections. We commit to harness this resilience in our quest to fix the fractured relationship between state and society. Democracy must deliver development to the people and it begins with fixing our elections, recruiting high quality public leaders, strengthening democratic institutions and empowering citizens to hold public leaders to account.

As we look to a future defined by intentionality, resilience and civic activism, we count on your support, partnership and solidarity.

Signed.

Samson Itodo

Executive Director

Yiaga Africa

Read More
03 Feb
0

Democracy Brief On Youth And Elections: Call For Articles & Papers

Yiaga Africa Initiative invites researchers, academics, civil society actors to submit original unpublished articles or papers for publication on democratic trends, youth and elections in Africa as a contribution to the discourse on the future of democratic elections in Africa. 

The conduct of elections in Africa is gradually adopting a visible role in defining the trajectory and state of democracy in Africa. With more countries accepting elections as the legitimate process of transition of political power, stakeholders have raised questions on the quality of these periodic elections and, its intersection with the institutionalization of democratic principles. Also, the growing youth population and the increasing role of young people in shaping Africa’s democracy begs for deeper introspection. 

The open-source Democracy brief on Youth and Elections in Africa is published to inspire a culture of research and scholarship amongst young Africans. It is a modest contribution to the body of knowledge on youth and elections and an attempt to amplify the voices, views and contributions of young Africans on issues of democracy and electoral integrity in Africa.  This edition of Democracy brief is focused on Youth and the Future of Democratic Elections in Africa, with a connecting theme of political inclusion, democratic development and peace in Africa. Case studies should focus on recent elections in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Congo and South Africa

Interested contributors are invited to submit manuscripts in the following sub-themes;

  1. Youth, Political Rights and Political Participation
  2. Young women and Political Participation in Africa
  3. Youth, Elections and Technology in Africa
  4. Youth and cost of politics
  5. Youth and party politics
  6. Youth and election management in Africa
  7. Leadership transition in Africa
  8. Elections and Electoral Violence in Africa 
  9. Electoral integrity

NOTE.

  • All submissions must be original, unpublished and relevant to the sub-themes
  • All submissions will be subjected to a review and selection process. 
  • Manuscripts must be typed, double- spacing with a minimum of 4000 words and maximum of 5000 words with references. 
  • References must be in numbered endnotes. 
  • Full-length papers must include abstract of no more than 200 words and a brief biography of no more than 100 words. 
  • All submissions should be sent electronically to democracybrief@yiaga.org as email attachment formatted in Microsoft Word. 
  • All papers must be submitted in English.
  •  Research papers or articles submitted by young women and young researchers of African descent will be given priority consideration.

Deadline for submission of manuscripts is 7 March 2020.

All questions should be forwarded to: 

Efemena Ozugha ( eozugha@yiaga.org )

Program Officer (Governance & Development)

Read More
31 Jan
0

Nigeria’s New Tribes: Marlians, Movements and Music By Ibrahim Faruk

 The year 2019 was a watershed moment in Nigeria’s history as it marked 20 years of uninterrupted democratic rule. However, beyond the elections, series of events held the attention of Nigerian citizens at various moments as the elections faded into memory.

In the months and weeks leading to the election, the political class, especially the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 General Elections built communities of supporters and a wide fan base, more popularly called ‘Buharists’ and ‘Atikulated’ respectively

Despite the importance of the elections, the most notable movements in 2019 did not occur in the political arena. They happened in the music or entertainment industry. The rise of the artiste Naira Marley’s fan base called the “Marlians” is probably the most notable ‘new community’ and citizen or fan movement in the country, probably closely followed by Big Brother Naija Tacha and her Titans fan base or the increasing conscious Alte Movement in the music industry.

Since his arrest for seeking support for internet-related advance fee fraud, also known as ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ Nigerian rapper Azeez Fashola who is popularly known as Naira Marley has become a phenomenon not just in Nigeria, but around the world. He also became a social media darling since his arrest, albeit a controversial one. After his career breakthrough in 2019, the tag name given to his fan base “Marlians” became a household name. Citizens who identify as Marlians are springing up in homes, schools and offices (rumor has it that 80% of my colleagues are Marlians) across the country. Marlians have remained united in their love and support for Naira Marley, will move mountains in support of their ‘Supreme Leader’ and the ideology they share.

Naira Marley uses music which plays a central role in communicating the needs and interests of the public.  Music is a transcendent force that shapes culture and allows musicians’ access to the grassroots, political elites, and the mass public.  An examination of the ‘Buharists’ and ‘Atikulated’ campaigns reveals that none of the candidates were able to leverage on music or seek endorsements from these emerging Movements.

An estimated 4.5 – 5 millions Nigerians turn 18 (the constitutional age of electoral franchise) each year. This translates to between 18 – 20 million potential ‘new voters’ from the 2019 General Elections to the 2023 General Elections. This age cohort is popularly known as Generation Z (or Gen Z), the demographic born between 1996 and 2010. The eldest member of Generation Z — is just 24, and yet the group’s dominance is already being felt (suspiciously many Gen Z’s are also Marlians or part of the growing Alte movement as well). Members of Gen Z are true digital natives: from earliest youth, they have been exposed to the internet, to social networks, and to mobile systems.

Political parties and civil society organizations can no longer afford to ignore these new tribes either in seeking to increase their political education or their engagement with the state. Similar new tribes (not individual organizations, but by movements) have over the past years engineered sweeping social change. While these new tribes might speak a different ‘language’ from the traditional forms of engagement, we cannot afford to lose these new tribes and the lessons we can learn from engaging with them.

Ibrahim Faruk is a Program Manager with Yiaga Africa’s Governance and Development Program. He can be reached on fibrahim@yiaga.org. He tweets via @IbrhmFaruk

Read More
30 Jan
0

Learning Visit: FUOYE Students Evolving Beyond Walls of Classroom

Members of National Association of Political science students (NAPSS) from Federal University, Oye Ekiti are evolving beyond the walls of their classrooms with their recent effort of expanding the scope of their knowledge beyond theories. This was the mission when the students took a huge leadership responsibility by paying a learning visit to Yiaga Africa’s office in Abuja. The students who are largely final year students from the University were able to update their knowledge and experience the practicalities in the area of democracy, governance and development.

Led by the President of the Association on Tuesday 28th January 2020, the students were given a tour of the facilities and departments within the premises of the Yiaga Africa office and they had the opportunity to learn about the activities of the election programs, youth programs and legislative engagement. The students were exposed to various aspect of democracy and governance learning firsthand issues around political inclusion, credible elections and legislative engagement. Similarly, the students learnt how they can build a sustainable campaign and movement to inspire the desirable change.

The elections department lead by Paul James was on hand to receive the students and he had a frank conversation with the on the impacts of citizens participation via election observation and political education on the integrity quotient of all the elections conducted since the return to democratic rule in 1999.  The students responded by making intelligent contributions especially in their understanding of the perennial issues that have crippled our elections.

He encouraged them to participate in the electoral process saying, election is all about inclusion and accountability. He said this, while also exposing the students to the various roles they can play in evolving the electoral process saying students can become champions of electoral reform by mobilizing fellow students.

Similarly, Director Yiaga Africa Center for legislative engagement, Dr Ernest Ereke congratulated the students on the effort saying he  considers their visit a worthy one as it provided an opportunity to further explain the various activities of the organization especially the numerous engagements in the year 2020, where some of them will be required to play some roles either as interns, enumerators, etc. He said “it further gave us an opportunity to expand the community of change makers as the students indicated interest in either elections related activities, legislative engagement, political mobilizing, etc. Moreso, we had the opportunity of equally donating various knowledge products to the students and their departmental library.”

Read More
28 Jan
0

CALL FOR EXPRESSION OF INTEREST FROM EXTERNAL AUDITORS

Location of Assignment: Abuja, Nigeria

Duration: 

Nature: Consultancy

Background:

Yiaga Africa Initiative in accordance with its internal financial policies and internationally accepted standards of practice is accepting proposals from competent and reputable audit firms to carry out an audit of its accounts for the year ending 31st December 2019. In line with this, interested firms are advised to apply.

SCOPE OF THE ASSIGNMENT:

The audit will be conducted in accordance with the International Auditing and Assurance Standards (ISA) and Board of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), with special reference to ISA 800 (Auditor’s Report on Special Purpose Audit Engagements) and relevant YIAGA Financial guidelines. In conducting the audit, the audit firm will amongst other tasks pay special attention to the following;

  1. The conduct of financial transactions in accordance with relevant general conditions, financial agreements and donor requirements, with due attention to economy and efficiency
  2. Goods and services procured in accordance with organizational policies, relevant general conditions and financing agreements
  3. Necessary supporting documents, records, and accounts kept in respect of all project ventures including expenditures reported via project reports or Audited Financial Reports if used as the basis of disbursement, or Designated Accounts (DAs). Clear linkages should exist between the accounting records and financial reports.
  4. The accounting records have been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and practices and relevant YIAGA policies and guidelines, and give a true and fair view of the financial position of all projects as at financial year-end and of the resources and expenditures for the year ended 31st December 2019.
  5. Review the compliance on each of the financial covenants as per the donor Agreements to ensure compliance for the conditions under which the funds were released.

AUDIT REPORTS
The auditors will issue an audit opinion on YIAGA’s financial standing. In addition to the audit opinion, the auditor will prepare a “management letter,” in which the auditor will:

  1. Give comments and observations on the accounting records, systems, and controls that were examined during the course of the audit;
  2. Identify specific deficiencies and areas of weakness in systems and controls and make a recommendation for their improvement;
  3. Report on if any, non-compliance with each financial covenant in relevant financing agreements;
  4. Communicate matters that have come to their attention during the audit which might have a significant impact on the operations of the organization; and
  5. Include management’s comments in the final management letter.

REQUIREMENTS
The Consultant should be an internationally qualified auditor (and members of the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) and Association of Chattered certified accountants (ACCA) or its equivalent) with experience in donor and grantee accounting and financial management and should have a minimum of five years’ experience in the field with experience in statutory and project auditing. The Firm should have strong knowledge and experience (minimum of 5 years) in donor account auditing. The firm should have specific experience in the World Bank, United Nations, European Union, DFID and USAID Accounts auditing.


APPLICATIONS
Please send (via e-mail) expression of interest, Proposals (both technical and financial), and comprehensive resume of the audit team members and firm’s profile document to:

The Executive Director, Yiaga Africa (YIAGA); Email: vendors@yiaga.org.

The email subject should read – Expression of Interest: External Auditors. The application deadline is 4th February 2020. 

Only shortlisted firms will be contacted. 

Read More
25 Jan
0

Yiaga Africa deploys 114 observers to observe rerun elections as INEC, Police face integrity test

Introduction

Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) will on Saturday 25th January 2020 deploy 114 observers to observe the elections in four (Akwa Ibom, Imo, Kano and Sokoto) out of eleven states where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct court-ordered rerun elections. Observers will be deployed to observe the conduct of the elections at the polling units and the results collation process at LGA results collation centres. Of the total number of deployed observers, 100 will be stationary in selected polling units, while 14 will serve as mobile observers.

These elections will be the second set of court-ordered rerun elections conducted by INEC since the 2019 general elections. The Kogi West Senatorial district and Ajaokuta Federal constituency rerun elections were the first set. Election tribunals ordered the rerun elections due to election irregularities, violence, and disqualification of candidates for filing fake academic credentials.

Yiaga Africa notes that the rerun election serves as another test of the integrity and commitment of INEC, Police and President Buhari to free, fair and peaceful elections. This rerun election is conducted against the background of recent marching orders given by President Buhari to the Police to ensure elections are conducted in an atmosphere devoid of violence, intimidation or malpractice. INEC also warned that it would not conduct elections or collate results where the security of election materials and personnel are not guaranteed by security agencies, especially the police.

Pre-Election Environment Observation and Emerging Issues

Yiaga Africa deployed citizen observers to monitor the pre-election environment in some states. Our pre-election observation reveals the following;

  1. INEC Preparations: Yiaga Africa received reports from observers in Isiala Mbano, Okigwe and Onuimo LGAs in Imo State; Bebeji, Doguwa Kiru and Tudun Wada LGAs in Kano State; and Sokoto North and South LGAs of Sokoto State indicating high level of preparations by INEC for the election as early as the second week of January 2020. Save for Akwa Ibom, all the other states provided stakeholders with information on the recruitment and training of adhoc staff for the election.
  1. Poor Voter Engagement and Potential for Low Voter Turn-out: Based on reports from WTV observers, voter education and mobilization was low in all states especially in Akwa Ibom, Imo and Kano state. Yiaga Africa predicts poor voter turnout for the elections based on our interaction with voters who expressed concerns with the paucity of information on the elections. Across the 11 states with rerun elections, there are a total of 1,322,929 registered voters.
  1. Threats of Violence and Insecurity: Based on reports from WTV observers, there is increasing tension in Imo state following the ruling by the Supreme Court on the governorship election. Citizens are worried that this tension could linger until the elections and has the potential to escalate to physical violence if adequate security is not provided and deployed security personnel fail to act responsibly and professionally. In Kano, there is a possible security threat to corps members in Kiru LGA due to alleged involvement of a corps member in the death of a child. INEC has indicated it will refrain from deploying corps members as adhoc officials in Kiru LGA.

For a successful conduct of the rerun election, Yiaga Africa expects effective coordination and information sharing between INEC and security agencies, especially the police. Security deployment goes beyond the number of personnel deployed, but also includes the ability of deployed personnel to effectively prevent and respond to violence or disruption of the electoral process. Yiaga Africa calls on security agencies to ensure adequate security of election materials, personnel and voters across all states, especially in Kano, Imo and Akwa Ibom. INEC should ensure adequate and timely deployment of personnel and materials to all polling units. The Commission should strengthen its oversight to ensure strict adherence to its guidelines, particularly the use of the Smart Card Readers for accreditation and results collation.

Yiaga Africa also calls for effective coordination with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to efficiently address issues of vote buying and selling on election day.

In conclusion, Yiaga Africa calls on eligible voters in the respective states to come out in their numbers with their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to cast their votes for their preferred candidates. In our quest to deepen electoral integrity, we will continue to observe the electoral process and provide real-time information and data on the conduct of the rerun elections.

The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!

 

Samson Itodo
Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA

 

For media inquiries please contact:

 

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: misah@yiaga.org

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.org or on Twitter @YIAGA.

Read More
23 Jan
0

Bounce Corruption: Building Community of Citizens Demanding Accountability 

BC changemakers from Nasarawa, FCT, plateau, Kogi Kaduna and Adamawa states

It is no more news that young people are taking leadership responsibility to demand for government accountability especially in the areas of budget tracking, implementation and social audit to ensure that budgets are channeled to benefit citizens at the local government level. As a matter of fact, young change makers are recording successes in demanding accountable leadership at the local level, and ensuring sustainable development in their communities.

It is a known fact that a large percentage of young people in Nigeria know little about the federal and state budgets but when it comes to the Local Government level, they are either not aware of its existence or how it translates to the development of society at the local level. It becomes imperative for citizens to mobilise themselves and take the lead to demand accountability by tracking fiscal policies and asking the right questions on their implementation. Young change makers have taken the primary step of social mobilisation, which allows people to take & understand their situation, organise and take action using their own initiative and creativity.

 YIAGA Africa team and ICPC Representative during Bounce Corruption Accountability Lab in Nasarawa

For instance, Young change makers in Bauchi state are officially recognized by the Bauchi state universal Primary Education Board and the Local Government Education Authority as third party monitors to track the construction and renovation of classrooms in Dass LGA and send reports on its implementation before final payments are made to the contractors.  The contributions of citizens in various communities cannot go unnoticed with major strides in ensuring the contractor of an abandoned health care center at Shelleng Local Government area of Adamawa state returns back to work.

Another batch of 36 young change makers from 18 Local Government Areas spread across five states of Adamawa, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau and Abuja joined in carrying out oversight functions towards open & accountable governance in the fight against corruption. Thus more Young people have taken up responsibility to intensify the fight against corruption through social audit, budget tracking and implementation.

With capacity training support from non-state actors like YIAGA AFRICA’s Bounce Corruption and support of state actors like Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), community of youth tracking budget spending is expanding. As captured by Hon. (Mrs.) Hannatu Mohammed, Pharm, Board Member of ICPC, “well-meaning young people of today have shifted to the fast lane of positive change, they have simply placed themselves on the platform of relevance in the corridors of impact”. 

Similarly, citizens have been advised to identify and engage with existing structures in the community to build trust and shared commitment. Speaking during the second batch of capacity training, participants were also reminded that Social accountability is basically, organising the community for impact to the benefit of the people because individuals can only draw attention to issues, but change-making takes community efforts.

For change makers to effectively analyse the budget, they observed trends over a period of time, compared cost of implementing the project/initiative while understanding the population and allocation base on LGAs including per capita income. The team during the training was also reminded by Yiaga Africa head of Governance and Development that, to ensure good governance & development, we are building stronger community engagements & change makers such as yourselves to champion these objectives in your local community. He said, sustainable development is anchored on collaborative efforts and support to government institutions.  “To ensure good governance & development, we are building stronger community engagements & change makers such as yourselves to champion these objectives in your local community”, he charged the young change makers.

Read More
08 Jan
0

2019: CSOs, Media Thrive in Daunting Shrinking Civic Landscape – Moshood Isah

The year 2019 was an interesting year for Civil Society Organisations who constantly interface directly or indirectly with relatively unwilling state and non-state actors in a bid to entrench democratic values in every facets of governance. Ranging from advocacies on credible elections, political inclusion and transformative leadership, accountability, and social justice, CSOs through various tools of campaign and movement building, made appreciable impact during the year.

One major impact was the appreciable increase in the number of young people who contested for various elective office after the historic passage of the age reduction bill into law. This is despite a lot of political parties’ conundrum and bottlenecks which young people must navigate in the process. Today, we not only have 103 under-35years old who are occupying elective offices, Nigeria can boast of four state of assembly speakers who are below the age of 35. This would not have been possible if not for consistent advocacy by CSOs led by Yiaga Africa who not only pushed for age reduction but provided technical support for young candidates in the run to the 2019 elections.

More recently, SERAP secured a landmark judgement ordering the Federal Government to “recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly. The court also directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.”

For democracy to thrive, government must be accountable to the citizens. This informed series of capacity building drive to see that citizens take the lead in demanding accountability via tracking of fiscal policies and asking the right questions on its implementation. Initiatives like FollowTheMoney by Connected Development, BounceCorruption accountability lab by Yiaga Africa, tracka by BudgIT amongst other effort have successfully tracked budget implementation and demanded accountability from government especially at state, local government, and legislative constituency level.

Similarly, in a bid to ensure that lawmakers across Nigeria are accountable to their constituencies, CSOs conducted a comprehensive assessment of the 8th National Assembly which provided facts and figures giving pointers on how the assembly fared in legislations, representation, and oversight. The assessment provided a pathway for improved functionality of the legislative arm of government making the people as priority.

Citizens across the length and breadth of Nigeria are demanding electoral integrity at all phases of electoral process having been mobilised by concerned non-state actors. The 2019 elections came with a high expectation for all election stakeholders and CSOs lived up to it. For instance, With a nationwide structure across all 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, WatchingTheVote project of Yiaga Africa became a reference point for credible and accurate election information and recommendations for electoral reforms. The deployment of citizen pre-election observers across all 774 LGAs in Nigeria provided comprehensive data across the country which successfully predicted electoral tendencies, provide early warning signals amongst other important recommendations ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The year witnessed countless protest for various reasons ranging from human right abuse, disobedience of court orders and other forms of neglect of rule of law. While a few yielded results others ended in avoidable death and injury but the resolve to keep on this line of freedom of protest and refusal to be intimidated remains a profound feat during the year 2019.

It was not all rosy as journalists like Agba Jalingo continue to remain in illegal custody despite outrage and call for his release. Other journalists also suffer attacks during the 2019 elections and subsequently during Governorship elections in Kogi state. This again did not deter the media from digging deep and fact-checking and other forms of investigative journalism which exposed a lot during the year. In a bid to further drive journalism driven by facts and data, CSOs contributed to enhancing the capacity of media organizations on data driven journalism and reporting during the last general elections by conducting a comprehensive training of over 100 journalists, editors and media executives across Nigeria on data-driven journalism to stem the tide of fake news and disinformation.

Highlight of discoveries by media is the SexForGrade scandal that exposed university lecturers who sexually harass female students and the undercover reporting by Fisayo Soyombo that further exposed the rot in Nigerian security and justice system. Many more discoveries which has ensured some local councils now release their budget for public engagement. Citizens mobilized to take the lead in demanding accountability by tracking fiscal policies and asking the right questions on their implementation.

Its difficult to know what to expect in 2020 with still a lot to be desired in terms of fundamental human rights and absolute supremacy of the law. All arms of government have the opportunity to entrench democratic values in all their activities while non-state actors like the media and civil societies should remain neutral and continue to serve as voice of citizens even on a daunting political landscape.

Moshood Isah

Media Officer, Yiaga Africa

Tweets @moshoodpm

 

Read More