With change makers, there are neither male nor female, just champions. In ensuring efficient institutions, young change makers need not only champion accountability and transparency efforts at higher levels but most importantly fix their binoculars at the grassroots in their communities. As the adage goes ‘he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most’ hence young people need to be at the frontline in ensuring sustainable infrastructural development in their societies.
In light of this, YIAGA AFRICA saw an opportunity to empower young change makers in such grassroots communities through its #BounceCorruption Lab aimed at building the capacity of young people on how to understand a budget, analyze a budget and conduct social audits. It is likely that young people may know little or more about the federal and state budget but when it comes to the Local Government level, they are either not aware of its existence or how it translates to the development they see around them if any at all.
From the 25th of September to the 28thof September 2019 in Nigeria’s city of Jos which interestingly is where YIAGA AFRICA was birthed, the Accountability and Social Justice team through the Bounce Corruption Project, brought together 36 young people from 16 States in Nigeria for a 3-day #BounceCorruption Lab workshop. The BounceCorruption Changemakers as they are now famously called learnt the theoretic and practice of tracking and analyzing their Local Government budget and also the tools and resources needed to carry out social audit to that effect.
This is possibly the first of its kind that specifically focused on the Local Governments. “It is important for us to look at the grassroots and raise young people who can serve as change agents and inspiration for other young people in the society,” said Tracy Keshi, Programs Officer for YIAGA AFRICA’s Accountability and Social Justice Department.
Tracy Keshi at the opening ceremony said the project complements the efforts of state and non-state actors in the fight against corruption through effective citizen oversight and mobilising action for good governance. Keshi said; “a lot of focus has been on the national budget so we want to build the capacity of young people to conduct social audits and to hold their leaders to account. The search light is now on the local government level and at the end of the day the young people become young anti-corruption change makers.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye said the Commission considers its relationship with YIAGA as a very essential campaign aimed at promoting zero tolerance for corruption, impunity and social injustice. Owasanoye who was represented by the State Commissioner for Bauchi, Abubakar Dutsinma said, “the things that currently matters now includes the war against corruption.”
In giving the welcome address, Abubakar Abdullahi Dutsinma, State Commissioner Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Bauchi State who was representing the Chairman ICPC stated his delight that the commission is working together with an organization such as YIAGA AFRICA who is relentless in the fight against corruption. He stated his willingness of the commission to support the change makers in providing transparency in budget spending at their local communities.
“we want to equip you with the tools to effect even small changes” Mr. Ezenwa Nwagu the Executive Director of Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa, PAACA and Co-convener, SAYNO Campaign said during his session on Social Accountability and the Role of Citizens where he emphasized that for the #BCChangemakers to be socially accountable, they must first be aware of themselves and their environment. He further stated that the workshop will help the young change makers create the demand for interventions and increase access to services.
Using existing Local Government budgets as sample, the change makers learnt how to analyze the budget of a Local Government Area and pinpoint areas where oversight functions should be focused on. Mr. Ikenna-Donald Ofoegbu, the Project Coordinator of The Heinrich Boll Foundation, Nigeria and an expert on budget analysis facilitated the practical session where he broke down the frameworks for budget analysis, the calculations involved and how to give a narrative story that explains the findings in an engaging manner.
Social audit often deals with comparing government documents and looks at experiences and facts relating to specific projects and programs and Safiya Bichi, Head of Research and M&E at YIAGA AFRICA explained the four stakeholders critical to conducting social audit; community, organized civil society, government and the private sector. Michael Agada a member of the Accountability and Social Justice team strengthened further the tools and resources needed to effectively carry out social audits.
Other sessions that benefited the young change makers is the session that explained the need in understanding how public narratives can be used in mobilization and evoke social action where Efemena Ozugha, YIAGA AFRICA’s Programs personnel narrated the story of self, us and now as a tool to inspire and motivate people to action and also the session on the effects of corruption to governance and community development facilitated by the Accountability and Social Justice, Programs Officer, Tracy Keshi.
Lead by the Bounce Corruption Radio Ambassador, Plateau State, Mr. Bello Lukman, the media which serves as the watchdog of government and public service was present to amplify and make visible the efforts of these young change makers and among which where; Daily Trust, The Sun, Unity FM Radio, Daily Times and Sky News Africa.
Paying a friendly visit during the workshop, YIAGA AFRICA’s Board Member, Professor Nnamdi Aduba said that he felt a rising of hope seeing that these young people are committed to strengthening public institutions in Nigeria at the lowest level.
“If you really want to lead, you must be an example and show others that things can be different,” he said during his brief remarks as he ensured them of YIAGA AFRICA’s availability to provide support as they embark on their journey to promote accountability and foster transparency at their various Local Government Areas.
— Ovinuchi Ejihuo, YIAGA AFRICA