Good morning Gentlemen and Ladies of the Press. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this briefing to launch our 2018 Annual Report and present our Follow The Money initiative’s Award as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Mobilzer of the Year 2019.

Our 2018 Annual Report is themed Amplifying Voices from the Grassroots. It is imperative I, again, remind all our stakeholders of the essence of what we do at Connected Development.

Grassroots communities in Nigeria are constantly deprived of access to basic human needs like health care, water, education, despite the fact that billions of naira are appropriated for the provision of health facilities, teaching aid, water and clean energy infrastructure in these regions. Most times, these funds do not reach the communities.

Disturbed by this anomaly, Connected Development (CODE) is providing marginalised communities in Africa with the resources to amplify their voices by creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building the capacity of citizens on how to hold their elected representatives accountable through our social accountability initiative, Follow The Money.

To enhance effective democratic governance and accountability, CODE creates platforms [mobile and web technologies] that close the feedback loop between citizens and the government. With global expertise and reach, we empower communities, influence policies and build capacities.

CODE carries out its mission with independence and integrity with the sole purpose of engineering social and economic progress. Our commitment towards participatory governance, capacity & community building and monitoring & evaluation creates effective and sustainable programs even within the most challenging environments.

2018 was a year of resilience and remarkable achievement. Our priority, in 2018, was to track subnational budgets and ensure that Federal allocations to States and Local Governments reached grassroots communities for socio-economic development. CODE tracked an estimate of NGN 1,289,579,737 (USD 3.6 million) budgeted for projects in 69 grassroots communities across water, sanitation and hygiene [WASH], primary healthcare and education sectors.

We activated Follow The Money for 9 Local Government projects and 41 State Government projects championing 5 advocacy campaigns for improved first-mile health infrastructure and services, 60 advocacy campaigns for improved education infrastructures for children to learn in schools, and 6 advocacy campaigns for communities to access safe clean water and we impacted 1,292,848 grassroots people in 21 States of Nigeria, Lawal added.

CODE delved into the extractive industry and mobilized several actors in a bid to ensure transparency and accountability. We were particular about mitigating human rights and conflicts issues as a way to improve the livelihoods of grassroots communities in the Niger-Delta region. Our team further engaged policy makers, stakeholders and beneficiaries, on the effects of artisanal mining activities in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

To promote sustainability and ingrain ownership of the FTM model, we trained community champions, religious leaders and individuals to organise community engagement activities in Yobe, Adamawa, Borno, Plateau and Kano States.

In hindsight, it can be said that CODE has experienced yet another year of growth and influence. This is evident in the fact that Follow The Money is now the largest citizen-led socio-digital accountability movement in Africa, driving grassroots participation in mainstream issues and nudging critical stakeholders to hold governments accountable. Still, we aim for greater heights and envision a larger scope of influence.

With incredible support from Luminate, MacArthur Foundation, OSIWA, Oxfam Nigeria, Indigo Trust, You, and many other key stakeholders, we are forging significant partnerships, innovating better ways to hold government accountable and advocating best policies in favour of marginalised communities.

We could not have achieved these feats without the immense work put in by the CODE team. They expressed unswerving commitment to the goal, led campaigns in fragile communities and were resilient even in the face of opposition. With each effort, we get closer to our goal of empowering Africa, one community at a time.

We look forward to working with you throughout 2019; where we will focus on expanding our reach, inaugurating more chapters across Nigeria and training new international chapters on the FTM model. We remain relentless in responding to the needs of our society, achieving the SDGs and catalyzing a positive change in the world.

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