By Philip Yatai
Kaduna – Mr Hamzat Lawal, the Founder, Connected Development, an NGO, says the organisation is mobilising Nigerian youths as `Follow the Money Champions’ in over 100,000 wards in the country.
“The goal is to effectively track government public expenditure across the country to ensure transparency and accountability,” Lawal told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Kaduna.
He said that the NGO, with presence in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, would build the largest social mobilisation platform on transparency and accountability in the country.
“Currently, we are building capacity of our young representatives in all the 774 Local Government Areas, and we will soon establish Follow the Money Champions in the over 100,000 wards in the country.
“Most Nigerian communities do not have access to clean water, no quality healthcare service, no access to basic education and no access roads, while some have no communication network.
“Therefore, having our champions in all the wards will enable us bring more voices to the front burner and push government to deliver quality services to the people and save under five children from preventable deaths.
“We will also have real time update on government action or inactions, put the information in the public domain and engage government to channel resources for public good,” he said.
He also said that Connected Development, under its Follow the Money platform has commenced campus tour to equally mobilise youths in academic institutions across the country to document voices and hold government to account.
He explained that the idea was to organise, educate and equip young people in academic institutions across Nigeria with the tool to document voices, amplify them using social media platforms and engage the government to act.
“This is because, we cannot achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if young people do not talk to themselves and unified their voices to engage policy and decision makers.
“Therefore, to achieve the SDGs, young people must take ownership of the goals, popularise the goals engage in policy and decision to use the goals in decision making.
“We began the tour with University of Jos, move to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and from there we will move to Bayero University Kano; proving a platform for young people to share ideas and information.
“More importantly, the youth will graduate and move to communities for the National Youth Service Corps. They will come across communities with no clean water, no access to basic education and healthcare services.
“We are training them on how to use their Smart phones to talk to the community, document their findings and amplify them on social media platform while engaging public servants,” he said.
Lawal pointed out that most public office holders, including ministries, departments and agencies were on twitter, face book and other social media platforms.
“We believe that if we are able to provide government with verifiable information, they will use it to inform policy and decision making, make budgetary allocation and releases.
“The young people can then track the money and hold government to account; it will be win-win for everyone,” he added.
By Philip Yatai