Blog

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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06 Jan
0

2019: A Year Defined by Voice and Accountability

Dear friends,2019 was intense and fulfilling. Just like you, we are asking ourselves what did we achieve this year? How did we serve our constituency? In this edition of our newsletter, we showcase key initiatives that shaped our 2019. In 2019, we witnessed a resurgence in civic activism, political participation and social accountability through our work. We remain grateful for your support, partnership and solidarity in helping us achieve our purpose. For us, 2020 is the next decade of positive disruption in politics, governance and civic spaces. It will be defined by intentionality, resilience and civic activism. As a movement, we will continue to count on your support, partnership and solidarity as we strive to make democracy deliver development to the people.

Here’s our 2019 journey

Mobilising Citizens to Demand for Electoral Integrity 

Citizens across Nigeria are demanding for electoral integrity in all phases of the electoral process. The 2019 elections came with high expectations for all election stakeholders especially citizens who expressed frustration with the decline in the quality of Nigerian elections. Through the Watching The Voteproject, we built a citizens movement on electoral integrity with structures across the 774 LGAs in Nigeria. In 2019, we recruited and directly engaged over 5, 500 citizen observers under the Watching The Vote project. They were drawn from villages, rural communities and urban centers. Each observer received high quality training on elections and the electoral process and how to use their phones as a tool for promoting credible elections, conflict mitigation and civic participation. Using the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, we ascertained the accuracy of election results, detected fraud and electoral manipulation and provided real time data on election. We also conducted the first independent Voter Register Audit in Nigeria.

Get more details of our 2019 election projects and milestones HERE.

Election day observation in Kogi state

Using Technology to Revolutionise the Electoral Landscape  

The use of modern-day election technology to observe the electoral process by providing accurate and timely data has revolutionized Nigeria’s electoral landscape. Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote project continues to utilize the Parallel Vote Tabulation, the gold standard for election observation across the world, to observe elections—Nigerians now have a go-to hub for credible elections data as a result of our successful deployment of technology overtime to observe elections. This, to a very large extent, shaped public opinions and policy recommendations on the elections conducted in 2019.

Using Technology to Revolutionise the Electoral Landscape

Strengthening the Legislature to Protect the Future of Public Trust 

In a bid rebuild citizens trust in democratic institutions such as the legislature, we conducted a comprehensive assessment of the 8th National Assembly and provided facts and figures to give pointers on how the assembly fared in legislations, representation, and oversight. The assessment led by former Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega provided vast recommendations on strengthening the legislature to rebuild public trust in democratic institutions. The report sets an agenda for legislative governance in the 9th National Assembly.

Read Full Report Here

Advancing Political Inclusion and Purposeful Leadership

Increasing the number of young political office holders from 60 to 103 out of 1,558 elective positions, as a result of the Not Too Young To Run and Ready To Run interventions, remains a historic milestone in the history of Nigeria that we celebrate. These interventions resulted in the Ready To Run TV showand The Convergence (Nigeria’s largest gathering of elected and unelected young politicians), which empowered young politicians with requisite tools and knowledge for providing excellent public leadership. With the Not Too Young To Run movement, we are determined to increase the number of young people in elected offices by 30% in the 2023 elections.

Enhancing State – Society Engagement 

The four youngest speakers of the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria are collaborating with the citizens of their respective states—Zamfara, Oyo, Kwara and Plateau— to develop a legislative agenda that will guide the activities of their four-year tenure in office. As a brand that focuses on entrenching democratic values to ensure citizens derive the dividends of democracy, we provided technical support to the speakers to organize town halls for discussions with resident citizens and deployed researchers to all the local government areas in their states, to acquire data for the development of the agenda. This is a remarkable feat as the young speakers are introducing new innovations to improve legislative governance, thereby setting the pace for other Speakers.

Read More Here

Building New Models of Community Organizing and Movement Building 

In our continuous effort to promote accountability through collective citizens’ action, we held 2019 editions of our annual community organizing and movement building programs. 240 young people across Nigeria are making positive impact in their various communities through our Youth Organising School. Also, in the last 6 years, our annual Democracy Summer Camp—targeted at young people under 18—has educated young Nigerians on citizenship, civic activism, and fundamental human rights. This year, we held the sixth edition in secondary schools in Kogi, Bauchi, and Nasarawa states. Watch our documentary on this, “Below The Legal Line”, which was shortlisted for the  #iamAfrica Pan-African film festival.

In addition, we released a music album produced in Senegal, Music as a Messenger of Democracy’ and engaged youths in Ethiopia to support the democratization project in their country.

Enhancing Local Governance through Citizens Oversight

For democracy to thrive, government must be accountable to its citizens. Service delivery and public administration at the local government level has been poor owing to weak institutional mechanisms and poor citizens oversight. To address this gap, Yiaga Africa conducted social accountability trainings in local governments across six states under the Bounce Corruption project. As a result of this intervention, some local councils now release their budget for public engagement. Under the Strengthening Citizens’ Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project, citizens were mobilized to take the lead in demanding accountability by tracking fiscal policies and asking the right questions on their implementation. We also partnered with the EFCC in Enugu on the anti-corruption fight.

Bounce Corruption lab budget tracking

Promoting Data – Driven Journalism 

We are super proud to have contributed to enhancing the capacity of media organizations on data driven journalism and reporting during the last general elections. We conducted 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.

Read More Here

As we look forward to 2020, with a view to expanding our coast, your immense support and collaboration remains valuable to the success of our vision of empowering state and non-state actors with relevant knowledge and tools in promoting sustainable democracy and development. 

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16 Dec
0

Press Release: Not Too Young To Run Sets 2023 Agenda

The Not Too Young To Run (NTYTR) Movement held its leadership and strategy retreat on December 12 – 14, 2019. The retreat was designed to reflect on the Movement’s organizing model and to design scenarios for the 2023 Nigerian elections. Some of the resolutions from the retreat include but are not limited to the following:

  1. The Movement will maintain its identity as a social movement committed to political inclusion, transformative politics and leadership.
  2. The Movement will be defined by the following core values: S – Solidarity, P – Patriotism, I – Inclusion, R – Responsible leadership, I – Integrity and T – Trust (SPIRIT). These core values are a reflection of who we are and what we stand for.
  3. The Movement has designed three strategic goals;
    1. Increase the number of young women, men and PLWDs with competence, character and capacity in elective office to at least 30% in 2023.
    2. Build a grassroots movement of 5 million young women, men and PLWDs committed to promoting political education, democratic rights and transformative
    3. Expand the NTYTR Movement beyond Nigeria and build international solidarity on political inclusion and transformative leadership across 25 African countries by 2023.

A detailed action plan for achieving these goals will be released in due course.

                  4 The Movement will recruit more organizers and leaders in order to build the strategic capacity it requires to drive its agenda. To this end, in 2020, the Movement will establish 100 NTYTR Hubs across Nigeria.

                  5. For 2020, the movement will organize two major events.

                        a. NTYTR Africa Week of Action on Political Inclusion in May 2020;

                       b.The NTYTR Convention in August 2020 for members of the movement, especially the hubs. Over 2,000 members and guests are expected to attend the event.

We look forward to your continued support as we seek to generate a new SPIRIT in African politics.

Thank you

Not Too Young To Run Movement

December 14, 2019

For inquiries: nottooyoungtorun@yiaga.org

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16 Dec
0

Not Too Young To Run Movement Reaffirms Commitment on Political Inclusion, Transformative Politics, Purposeful Leadership

The Not Too Young To Run movement has reaffirmed its commitment to continue to promote  political inclusion of youth, women and People With Disabilities (PWDs), for  transformative politics and purposeful leadership, while reflecting on the movement’s successes and future prospects going into the next phase of Nigeria’s political dispensation. Having successfully reduced the age of running for the Presidency, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly from 40 to 35 years and from 35 to 25 years respectively, the leadership of the movement has vowed to mitigate any hinderance to increase youth representation in elective offices.

Rising from a three-day retreat in Lagos, the movement, which is arguably the most successful citizens-led movement in Nigeria, revealed that it aims to increase the number of young women, men, and PWDs with competence, character and capacity in elective office to 30% in 2023. According to a statement released by the movement and signed by the Convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, Not Too Young To Run will build a grassroots movement of 5 million young women, men and PWDs committed to promoting political inclusion, democratic rights, transformative politics and purposeful leadership.

While maintaining its non-partisan identity of a social movement committed to political inclusion and transformative politics and leadership, the movement remains driven by its core values of Solidarity, Patriotism, Inclusion, Responsible leadership, Integrity and Trust (SPIRIT).

In a bid to build the strategic capacity that the movement requires to drive its agenda, the movement will be opening and recruiting more organizers and leaders across Nigeria and some parts of Africa.  This, according to the movement, would enable expansion to build international solidarity on political inclusion and transformative leadership across 25 African countries by 2023.

“To this end, the movement will be establishing Not Too Young To Run hubs across Nigeria. In 2020, the movement will create 100 hubs across the country. State Coordinators will be assigned new responsibilities in furtherance of this goal,” Itodo said.

Reflecting on the success of the movement, Itodo said the Not Too Young To Run movement has built power from within, which the government couldn’t ignore. He further said the historic assent to the age reduction bill not only disrupted the political space but has renewed hope and mobilized the positive energy of young people. The movement, according to him, has birthed other movements because the team demonstrated how effective organizing can be in achieving good results.

Also speaking during the retreat, another strategy team member Cynthia Mbamalu, stated that despite the assent to the age reduction bill, there is still more work needed to be done to influence policy decision in National and state assemblies. Echoing similar thoughts, Bella Anne Ndubuisi said that the movement has a responsibility to drive the beneficiaries because there is high expectation from young people in office due to the popularity of the movement.

The movement also hosted Babcock University and Bayero University Kano alumni Jumoke Pinheiro and Bashir Rabiu who both presented their academic research focusing on Youth participation , social media and policy making using the Not Too Young to Run as a case.

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14 Dec
0

Rethinking Nigeria’s Democracy Amidst Threat to Rule of Law – Moses Oluwaseyi

Within a week, two popular newspapers, The Punch and Business Day, respectively, have raised questions around the sustainability of Nigeria’s democracy, especially in the wake of the violation of human rights, disobedience of court orders and attempts to annihilate the rule of law.

It’s been over 20 years since Nigeria transcended from military rule to adopt what is said to be the best system of government across the world —democracy. Unfortunately, a recent editorial by Business Day this week has served as a firm reminder to President Muhammadu Buhari that this is not the 1985 military regime. The editors of the online medium are concerned about the direction of Nigeria’s democracy with the recent use of extrajudicial means to shut opposition.


Political science students have a saying that: “the worst democracy is better than the best military rule”, and the elementary class will define democracy as a system of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy should therefore enable freedom of participation, association and human right, which drives development.  


Sadly, it appears that recent practices in Nigeria are extremely different from what the democratic system of other countries represents. If our founding fathers turn back from their graves, will they see that country they fought and strove for independence from the colonial masters? or will they be filled with regrets? This calls for deep reflections.


Pieter Williams Botha a South African politician once said, “black people cannot rule themselves because they don’t have the brain and mental capacity to govern a society. Give them guns, they will kill themselves, give them power they will steal all the government money; give them independence and democracy, they will use it to promote tribalism, ethnicity, bigotry, hatred, killings and wars”. This statement may just reflect the democratic system in Nigeria and the system of governance has, however, not proven this to be erroneous at several levels of governance.


The 1999 constitution in chapter II is very clear on the motto of the country, which is Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress but the level of disunity has led to several insecurity issues in various parts of our dear country, thereby stalling adequate progress. Issues of religious differences and high level of intolerance is consistently on the rise. Territorialism at various state level and expression of ignorance of some citizens, disregarding the provisions of chapter II of the constitution cannot be divorced from the cause of ethnicity and communal clashes in the country in the name of citizenship as the struggle with the abundant resources that have become scarce due to inadequate governance institutions and visibility. This and other menaces have characterized our democratic system.  


The provisions of fundamental human rights are now misrepresented as mere making of statements are distant from what the law requires. The acclaimed dividends of democracy such as rights to life, quality education, adequate health systems and basic infrastructure, seem to be more accessible and available during the military rule than the democratic system of government Nigerians fought for.  


Even though the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammed, claimed he would not tolerate disobedience of court orders, his body language to such doesn’t reflect his claim. The judiciary is no longer the hope of a common man as it is usually said. There have been various instances of disobedience of court orders especially by the executive arm of Government. The delay in passing judgement and various conflicting court judgements especially around election related matters has led to waste of taxpayers’ money. The judicial system, no doubt needs to re-position itself to the apex of trust and integrity in order to shape the democratic system without being one sided in the dispatch of her responsibilities.


Similarly, public office holders, either elected or appointed must see such office to be worthy of trust, and capable of delivering on the needs of democracy, which would position the country in a way that generations unborn will be beneficiaries of what has been done. Elected officials at the federal and state levels should use their office and power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation. Lawmakers should engage in people-oriented policies, and create an enabling environment in all parts of the country. Consequently, there is an urgent need for political office holders to look inwards, be accessible and increase engagement with citizens at all levels in order to have a progressive democratic government that would eradicate poverty, insecurity, hunger and enshrine a nation where there will be democratic gains.

Oluwaseyi Moses is a Zonal Program officer with YIAGA AFRICA

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14 Dec
0

Shrinking Civic Space: Threat to Human Rights and Anti-Graft War – Tracy Keshi

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, November 5, re-introduced the bill, “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019” a proposed law that will regulate the use of social media in the country.  The bill prohibits statements on social media considered to be likely prejudicial to the “security of Nigeria”, and “diminishing public confidence in the government”.

The lawmaker who led the debate on the bill at the plenary session of Wednesday, 20 November 2019, Sen. Mohammad Sani Musa, explained that the Bill sought to address the threat and mitigate against the risk associated with information via internet networks, by monitoring abuse and deliberate misconduct. However, the bill contains certain provisions that excessively restrict the use of social media, violate the law protecting freedom of speech, create ambiguous criminal offences that allow authorities prosecute anyone who criticizes the government.
The freedom of information and expression, right of assembly and association, inclusion, human rights and citizens’ participation in public decision making is fundamental to the functionality of a developing society and a vital prerequisite for accountable governance and social justice.

The emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari—for the second time—after the 2019 general elections may have brought with it a renewed hope of strength to overcome the numerous problems the country is currently facing.  Citizens believed his administration would commit to advancing the civic space and enable citizens engagement in a democratic way. Unfortunately, the right to freedom of expression has suffered abysmally with the organs of state charged with ensuring rule of law opposing voices of credible critics of bad governance and encouraging impunity and continued attacks on the fundamental human rights of citizens. An example is the arrest of Agba Jalingo, the publisher of Cross River Watch, who has been charged with treason for his writing and social media posts about the Cross-River Governor, Benedict Ayade.

A worrisome trend of shrinking civic space has emerged and created a system that denies citizens their basic human rights to freely express themselves and to hold their government accountable. The freedom of expression as enshrined in Section 39 (1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is a necessary tool in the fight against corruption. President Muhammadu Buhari has made tackling corruption his administration’s key priority and the best way to end corruption is by respecting the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Any administration that participates in organised human rights abuses and civil society crackdowns, poses a serious threat to national peace and security.

When governments increasingly control and restrict freedom, it shrinks the civic space for effective citizens’ engagement and blocks meaningful participation of citizens in democratic governance, thereby weakening the social contract between government and its citizens, likely making violence an alternative to addressing grievances.

According to statistics, 29.3 million Nigerians majorly young people use social media across the country. The role of social media is critical in promoting good governance and limiting corruption as it raises public awareness about corruption, its causes and consequences. It is a platform where citizens report incidences of corruption. The use of social media has exposed corrupt officials, and prompted investigations by official bodies.

In commemorating the International Anti-corruption and Human Rights day this month, we are calling on Nigerian lawmakers to ensure the laws protecting human rights are properly enforced and the rights of everyone to peaceful criticism of the government without fear of reprisal, censorship, or legal sanctions is duly protected.  I am also urging civil society organisations, media and every anticorruption actor to stand #UnitedAgainstCorruption.

Tracy Keshi is a program officer with YIAGA AFRICA and actively involved with #BounceCorruption and #Upright4Nigeria campaigns. She can be reached via tracykeshi@yiaga.org and tweets via @tracykeshi

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11 Dec
0

Not Too Young To Run State Coordinators Project Pathways for Increased Youth Representation

The Age reduction constitution amendment, popularly known as the Not Too Young To Run legislation, remains a historic milestone in the Nigerian socio-political landscape. The battle for inclusion in the country’s politics, however, is not over yet, as several political party bottlenecks—amongst other challenges—are still faced by budding young politicians.

In this light, on Tuesday, December 12th, 2019, the State Coordinators across 36 states of Nigeria converged in Abuja to project a pathway for increased youth political representation in elective offices. The crusaders of the movement who mobilized citizens from their respective states were instrumental in ensuring State Houses of Assembly lawmakers voted ‘yes’ to the historic age reduction amendment.

Speaking during the meeting, the Convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, reflected on the historic journey saying the team has changed the political landscape of Nigeria forever. He said, “I remember a few years ago, we set out on a journey that seemed impossible, believing that the few contributions we are going to make is going to make a difference.”

He, however, explained to the State Coordinators that the push for inclusion in politics is beyond a democratic ideal, saying it is about capacity and the value the movement has brought to the table. According to him, it is about reclaiming the state to provide better dividends of democracy, jobs and quality health care for people. “It is important that we push the envelope to use political power to provide the right things”, he said.

In his words, “remain resilient because this country is breaking before our eyes,” the Convener, Samson Itodo, reminded everyone at the close of the meeting. “We are going to be taking bold steps. 2020 is the commencement of another decade”. Additionally, he firmly reminded the State Coordinators about the philosophy of the movement, saying “We have to come to a place where we tell ourselves that this struggle is not about us. And our driving philosophy is simple: that the goal for civic activism is the common good. “

The Strategy Team members also reiterated the need to remain politically vigilant as the movement moves to the next phase. According to Cynthia Mbamalu, Programs Manager of YIAGA AFRICA, “today our survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to remain vigilant to face the challenges of change”. “Only when we are awake and ready to act, can we really see the kind of change we want. Nigeria is still looking up to us. Nigeria can be better,” she said.

The State Coordinators shared their experiences and reflections on various related themes, which included leadership and governance, internal communication management, conflict and risk management, Not Too Young to Run campaign and advocacy tactics, stakeholder engagements, media and communications, inclusion and diversity management. The team revealed their thoughts on how the movement can leverage on existing capacities and relationships to further increase the number of young people in elective offices ahead of the 2023 elections.

All participants of the meeting also shared personal reflections on the Not Too Young to Run Movement, in an emotional session, while the Strategy Team Members consolidated on the results of the meeting into an action plan. At the end of the meeting, the participants were given their certificates of participation, as well as ‘Digital: The New Code of Wealth’ written by J.J. Omojuwa, who detailed parts of the Social Media Strategy of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement when it kicked off online about two years ago.

Also present at the meeting were some of the Strategy Team Members of the Not Too Young To Run Movement—Cynthia Mbamalu, Ibrahim Faruk, Chioma Ageuegbo, and Safiya Bichi. They shared their insights respectively, on charting a course for the future of the movement.

Check out more pictures from the event below.


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