We have tracked $113 million across 25 states in Nigeria – CSO claims

A CIVIL society organisation, Connected Development (CODE), said its Follow The Money initiative has been able to track an estimate of 113 million dollars across 181 communities in 25 states of Nigeria since its establishment in 2012.

Speaking at a Press address in Abuja on Thursday, the Chief Executive Officer of CODE, Hamzat Lawal told reporters that the fund that it tracked were funds that are budgeted for community projects.

He said the organisation has been able to save the government of over N15 billion naira because of the leakages that it has been able to block.

He said the initiative has now been established beyond the borders of Nigeria where the movement began in 2012.

According to Lawal, Follow The Money initiative is now established in Malawi, Cameroon, Kenya, Liberia, Gambia, Zimbabwe as well as Nigeria.

Lawal also disclosed that the movement is now collaborating with the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to track government-funded projects.

He said the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu confirmed this during an interactive session with the organisation on Wednesday in Abuja.

“The Chairman has promised to provide government and security protection for our personnel during the discharge of their duties,” Lawal said.

He added that Magu also promised to create a Follow The Money Desk at the EFCC office in Abuja where the organisation can easily access the EFCC.

Celebrating the CODE’s seven years of existence, the organisation presented cash awards and medal of honour to three winners of the Follow the Money challenge.

Busayo Motunrayo, the community engagement manager with CODE, said the Follow The Money challenge required citizens to go into their communities and track government-funded projects.

He added that out of the nine finalists of the challenge, only three of them were picked from three states.

CODE Communication Lead, Kevwe Oghide told pressmen that a few weeks ago, Follow The Money movement won the 2019 Council of Europe’s Democracy Innovation Award in Strasbourg, France.

She said the award presented at the Council’s World Forum for Democracy 2019 recognised Follow The Money as one of the leading groundbreaking initiatives in the world.

Stressing on the importance of the award, Oghide said the council of Europe has 49 member states which Nigeria or Africa is obviously not one of them, but out of 27 Democracy Initiatives of the world, Nigeria won it.

“Honestly, I think it is ironic because we don’t even practice Democracy in this part of the world and Nigeria won the award in Europe where things are functioning,” she said.

She noted that the award should serve as a wakeup call for Nigerian Leaders to act more responsibly and improve inclusive public service delivery across the Nation.

The three winners of the challenge, Kehinde Akinsola from Kwara State, Ukeme Anwan from Akwa Ibom state and Muhammed Kime from Yobe state were presented a cheque of N100,000 respectively.

The ICIR reporter asked Lawal on what the organisation has been able to achieve in other African countries where CODE is established.

Lawal said Follow The Money has been able to monitor about 27 million dollar fund released to The Gambia by the European Union.

He also said the group followed the $10,000 dollars released for provision of facilities in a Kenyan Slum and efforts on sexual and reproductive health fund in Malawi.

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via labol[email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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