In the wake of the many happenings in the country, the need for synergy in thoughts and actions embarked upon by citizens who are passionate about the nation cannot be overemphasized. Citizens being at the forefront of democracy comes with its demands, one of which is the continuous advocacy for accountability and good governance from those elected.

Thursday Talks Lagos is a monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens which aims at driving conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship

This event is organized by EiE Nigeria, BudgIT & YNaija.

EiE Nigeria is a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability through active citizenship. EiE’s message is very simple: Register, Select, Vote not Fight and Protect (RSVP).

BudgIT is a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change. BudgIT uses an array of tech tools to simplify the budget and matters of public spending for citizens, with the primary aim of raising the standard of transparency and accountability in government.

YNaija is the internet newspaper for young Nigerians, focused on the issues and ideas that matter for an evolving generation. YNaija offers news, original content and covers politics, business, entertainment, environment, technology, popular media, lifestyle, culture, comedy and healthy living.

There was an introductory speech by ‘Yemi Adamolekun (ED, EiE Nigeria) where she reiterated the need for a working partnership amidst Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria which led to a platform such as ‘Thursday Talks’. She then introduced the facilitator, Innocent Chukwuma.

He started his speech by giving a personal history of his early days in the civic space, the evolution of the civic movement and its current state. According to him, the pioneering leaders in the civil space were trained in the tertiary institutions. The campuses used to be the hot bed for discussing issues but nothing of such exists today.

He faulted the strategy currently being adopted by CSOs. The keyword in the past was Political Education; to mobilize the oppressed class to challenge the existing system while what we have now is Voter Education; which is compliance within an existing system which has led to increasing participation but declining representation causing fragmentatio and stiffened effectiveness.

Mr Innocent also noted that though the proliferation of NGO’s and CSOs, yet the difficulty in addressing issues. He challenged leaders of NGO’s present to leave their comfort zone and collaborate with one another in other to grow the space.

Participants wrote down their various challenges in the civic space, but few pertinent ones were addressed by the facilitator among which include

Collaboration among CSOs: He explained that the course must be stronger than the founder with the focus on building institutions that can function even when the founder is not involved. He urged participants to imbibe the culture of collaboration as working in isolation could lead to frustration.

Sustainability of an Advocacy Course: He stated that love for country and the course we stand for will always make us sustain the struggle.

The second edition was held on Thursday 26th April, 2018 and was hosted by BudgIT at Civic Hive. The event which was moderated by Abiola Afolabi (Communications lead, BudgIT) witnessed discussions around the Oil subsidy saga.

Participants watched a documentary (Fueling poverty) from the oil subsidy protests in 2012 after which the prevailing issues with the oil subsidy was discussed. Participants gave thoughts from the documentary, discussed present happenings and suggested means through which citizens can be more involved in the oil sector.

‘Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, Enough is Enough Nigeria gave an overview of the protest in 2012.  According to her, “Subsidy by definition isn’t bad, however, the incompetence by the government must be looked at”. She further explained that presently subsidy is being paid for by NNPC before remittance is made to the federal government. She emphasized the lack of knowledge and the need for citizens to put much pressure on government to do the right thing.

Gabriel Okeowo (GM, Operations, BudgIT) stated that although the protest didn’t turn out as expected probably because the labor unions sorted out with the government, it was very important. Stating the Bring Back Our Girls example, he tasked the participants on how to remain resolute in their demands and not cave in to pressure or intimidation.

One of the participants stated the dearth in knowledge penetration. He emphasized the need for citizens to get the necessary information as stated in the documentary in their native languages. He also bemoaned the lack of an effective opposition party & the need for citizens to demand and hold government to their words.

Bode Akintola stated that there will never be the right solutions. He posited that until the refineries are fixed, subsidy will always have to be paid.

Dayo, a writer with YNaija, citing the Olusosun dump site as an example, stated the need for citizens to speak out in the face of injustice and bad governance. According to him, Nigerians are more afraid to speak about their rights. He explained that even those enduring the hazardous situations have refused to speak out! No one was willing to talk to them when they went to interview residents.

“Revolutions are social events. We need to study them and adapt to this one”, stated one of the participants.

Others expressed the need not to be less sympathetic about Nigeria, the importance of effective leadership, the need to educate citizens and be actively involved.

In conclusion, Abiola stated that what happened in 2012 needs to happen again! If we constantly work together as citizens, we can achieve anything we want. We must spread the word ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE!

LET’S KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING!

Join us for the next edition of Thursday Talks hosted by YNaija which will be centered on the environment (inefficient waste system, environmental hazards and other related issues) and the role of citizens in demanding for effective leadership.

Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018, at Civic Hive, Yaba.

The focus of the third edition of Thursday Talks was the environment and the need for active citizens to hold government accountable. The event started with a brief introduction by the moderator, Usman Alabi after which the panelists weighed in on the subject matter.

Panelists 

Lookman Oshodi from Arctic Infrastructure emphasized the need to keep holding government accountable despite inadequate responses.  He stated that social media provides a veritable tool for citizens to vent their anger and hold government accountable.

In his response to the question on the effect of development of cities on displacement of people, Andrew Maki (Co-Executive Director of JEI) who represented Megan Chapman bemoaned the criminalization of self-help informal methods. He criticized the move by the government to privatize water while not providing potable water for the citizens.

Gbenga Adebola (spokesperson for PSP) educated the guest on the role of PSP in relation to the Cleaner Lagos Initiative by the Lagos State government. He stated that although the PSP had lapses in the delivery of their services, they had invested about N6 billion in the industry. However, the Visionscape group employed by the government to manage waste disposal in the state clearly lacks the funds, capacity and expertise in waste management despite having received a loan of N50 billion.

He explained that the PSP never left, they simply operated a “willing payer, willing buyer system”. Once Lagosians saw the Visionscape waste bins in their communities, they stopped patronizing the PSP. However, when the government realised the Cleaner Lagos initiative had failed, they reached out to PSP and tried to force the PSP to serve as subcontractors under Visionscape.

We must all get involved. Our existence is dependent on the environment we live in. Policies must be bottom-up approach.” – Gbenga Adebola.

One of the participants, Gabriel Okeowo (BudgIT) narrated his plights with waste disposal. He stated that waste hasn’t been picked up where he lives for several weeks. He showed participants pictures and explained how he had to pack the dirt himself into 14 bins and dispose of them.

One of the overfull dustbin

On housing, Andrew Maki stated that despite a high court verdict, the Lagos State Government went ahead with the demolition of houses in the Otobo Gbame community. He encouraged the guests to challenge the common narrative perpetuated by the ruling class.

“The government exists to serve me and my interests, not chop money” – Andrew Maki.

When was the last government that provided affordable housing? Jakande? – He asked. He stated that the housing scheme at Epe costs about N4.5 million and are not affordable to ordinary Lagosians.

“This is mismanagement and corruption and the highest level. This is a disgrace and they need to be kicked out. He stated that there are massive gaps in the housing sector. There are no affordable housing. We must be willing to have a collective discussion otherwise we ain’t going nowhere.”

Ahisu Celestine from the Otobo Gbame community urged the participants to come to the aid of those displaced by the government.

A participant, Abel, suggested the need to harmonize our contributions on affordable housing into a bill & consistently advocate till it becomes a law. Another participant stated the need to have available solutions presented to the government as a model. The public can then demand to which politicians can hear and act upon.

Cross-section of participants

Chuks Ojidoh (Reclaim Naija) stated that those in authority have no regard for local knowledge. They will rather adopt expensive solutions for simple problems just to enrich themselves.

We must start holding government accountable for what we can feel not what they are saying” – Chuks Ojidoh.

Andrew Maki concluded stating that 2019 is around the corner, when politicians come around asking for votes, citizens must demand from them their positions on affordable housing, waste generation among others.

Join us for the next edition of Thursday Talks on June 28, 2018, at Civic Hive, Yaba.

In the wake of the Not Too Young To Run Bill and the 2019 elections, there is a need for  Nigerians – both old and young – to critically examine the variables that will break out when supposed young politicians begin to show interest in running the affairs of the country.

The focus of the fourth edition of Thursday Talks was the need to understand how young Nigerians can comfortably begin to drive conversations and/or change narratives in the political sphere.

Panelists 

Hon. Gbolahan O. Yishawu of the Lagos House of Assembly (Eti-Osa Constituency II) emphasised the need to understand that apart from the voting system, there is also the party system; and for anyone to be part of decision-making, the said interest must start from the grassroots and the party.

Hon. Gbolahan O. Yishawu

Speaking on an age-long debate – ‘Women in Politics’ – Yishawu said the conversation driving the Not Too Young To Run Bill should not forget to always include women, so “we do not fall into the same trap of gender inequality“. He added that what women actually fight for is “balance” and that should be respected.

On godfatherism, Yishawu disclaimed that idea that such arrangement leads to public fund mismanagement, saying godfathers are like mentors that guide politicians unless the motive to continue the looting process.

Speaking during the session, a participant said young people should rather focus on organising themselves, as they do too much of agonising. “If you think politics is what you want to do, join a party if activism is what you want to do, do it well“.

Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour

Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (Eti-Osa I) on his own part said there are so many accidental politicians in the system. “We need a crop of people that will navigate the conversation. I’m very proud of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill but it’s still mediocre. Mediocre in relation to the 1979 constitution that had 21 years as the minimum age for House of Assembly and House of Rep and 30 for Senate.”

The 34-year-old state legislator added that we need to change the demography of the voting population in Nigeria.

Thursday Talks holds every last Thursday of the month. Join the conversation.

The June 12, 1993 presidential election will remain a historical reference the world over when a discussion centres around ‘free and fair elections‘. There were antecedents and of course, outgrowths after the election was annulled but, that will not take anything off the fact that the election affected the Nigerian political sphere in more ways than imagined.

On this month’s edition of Thursday Talks, the 1993 election was the discuss and a couple of issues were raised again in a thought-provoking and enlightening gathering organised by EiE Nigeria, BudgIT and YNaija.

The focus of the fifth edition was the 1993 election and the way lessons for advocacy – ‘June 12, 1993 presidential elections: The lessons for advocacy movement‘.

 

 Cross-Section of participants and panellists

Giving a little history of the events that surrounded the said election, human rights activist and lawyer, Ayo Obe said the then Military leader, Ibrahim Babangida had thought M.K.O. Abiola would do his bidding since they were friends and Abiola was an ardent coup sponsor but he was disappointed that the reverse was the case, the reason he did everything to ensure the election was annulled. Civil societies stood to fight the annulment and the menace of military leadership but were actively resisted by those in power.

Panellists

She added that Abiola only came up as a politician because his lifetime was ridden with bad leaders.

Sitting on the same panel, Chuks Ojidoh said politicians need to learn from Abiola.

“We need to change how leaders emerge and the concept of politics being a short-term thing,” he said. Adding that Abiola built strong and positive networks everywhere he went and “these are the kind of leadership qualities we need to change Nigeria.”

 

Participants at the event

On advocacy, referencing the struggles of civil society groups after the annulment, Ojidoh said NGOs and/or civil society groups or individuals who start movements need to think beyond fighting for events and look at bigger pictures like fighting for injustices, no matter on which side it is coming from.

Still on advocacy and referencing her membership with the Bring Back Our Girls Movement, Obe said there are many things that are usually packaged when these movements are founded.

“We use these struggles to pressurise the concerned authorities to look at larger issues in that space“.

Thursday Talks holds every last Thursday of the month. Join the conversation.

In the wake of the mega-city plan of the Lagos State Government and the regular influx of people from all over Nigeria, Africa and indeed, the world, it is necessary to start a discourse on affordable housing in the state, what could be the problems and how these can be solved.

In the light of this, at a forum organised by YNaija, Enough is Enough (EiE) and BudgIT, bringing together thought leaders, change agents and stakeholders, the dilemma of affordable housing took the centre stage with Olayinka Patunola-Ajayi(Deputy Director of Estate, Lagos State Ministry of Housing); Samuel Akinrolabu(Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation); Lookman Oshodi (Arctic Infrastructure); Ugochi Sylvia (Trashhaters) and Bimbo Osobe (Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation) on the panel.

The panellists spoke on “Affordable Housing in Lagos: Possibilities and challenges“.

 

 Cross-Section of panellists

When asked what the Lagos government is doing to ensure affordable and adequate housing facilities in Lagos, Patunola-Ajayi said, “It is not possible for all of us to own a house. The present administration is thinking of going into rental housing.”

Speaking further, she said the scheme allows you make payment spread across ten years, “It strikes me that people spend a lot of money on things like recharge cards and find it hard to pay N75,000 monthly for Rent to Own scheme spread over 10 years.”

 

 Some panellists

She adds, however, that there are a lot of projects to be carried out in Lagos and with the scramble and paucity of funds, affordable housing might seem too herculean – also considering the regular influx of people into the state.

On waste disposal, Patunola-Ajayi said, “As citizens, as residents of Lagos, we need to exercise caution. We do not care that waste is a problem and that is an attitude we need to change. The government cannot do it alone.”

 

Participants engaging the panellists

When asked how the government can solve the problem of agent fees and the issue of two-year rent asked by landlords, Patunola-Ajayi said there is a centre in place to receive such cases.

To the same question of waste disposal, Ugochi Sylvia says there’s a disaster waiting to happen as the state has not planned well to ensure waste does not pose serious environmental and health problems for residents.

 

 Cross-Section of panellists

On the problem of housing, Sylvia says it cannot stop unless other state governments begin to make their state self-sufficient, because the usual “promise” is that Lagos is where you go for ‘greener pastures’.

On slum and so-called informal settlements, Bimbo Osobe said the government should consider the dwellers in their plans rather than displace them totally.

Without mincing words, Nigeria is going through very difficult times. And so, it is pertinent that we have discussions on the many issues that stagnate the countries progress. The seventh edition of Thursday Talks Lagos, a monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens which aims at driving conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship was one of such deliberations.

This event is organised by YNaijaEiE Nigeria and BudgIT.

For the September edition, Juliet Kego, Co-Founder, Whole WoMan Network and Akin Oyebode (Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund debated on the topic: “Millenials and the Challenges of Nation Building“.

See talking points below:

  • I think we are making progress but economic disability is the problem” – Oyebode.
  • One thing we have to unlearn as a nation is a total dependency on the government and the inherent distrust of markets. We place too much power in government that such powers can be over-used. The government runs virtually everything in Nigeria which shouldn’t be so ideally.” – Oyebode.
  • For the younger generation, we have to learn from the mistakes of the past and attempt to create greatness out of it” – Oyebode.
  • If we do not face our challenges with a binary approach, then there is no incentive for our political leaders to do anything. People will keep getting into positions of authority and remain wayward” – Oyebode.
  • We need leadership that prioritises education. The current leadership does not even bother” – Kego.
  • We need leaders who understand that the private sector needs energising. More infrastructure to allow them to thrive. We need leaders that will invest in people, young people” – Kego.
  • The world is becoming more democratic and because of that, people have less tolerant of nonsense. Millennials are more expressive and have lots of medium to express themselves than people of the other generation” – Oyebode.
  • “We have lost our shared values. We’ve lost the core of what makes a nation” – Kego.
  • Let’s not be deceived, the reason why the  Bill could be passed now is because older politicians want their children to get into politics earlier” – Oyebode.
  • It is not enough to be young and mental, you need a structure to win an election in Nigeria. One of those structures is name recognition. Millennials must get involved in the politics of their locality. It goes beyond social media ranting and criticism. Get involved in the process. It’s not just about you having PVC but the ability to influence how people think and take decisions” – Oyebode.
  • We have a dysfunctional country where almost nothing is working. Politics and Government are what drives the economy. Millennials form the larger percentage of the governed and should be given the chance to participate in the process.
  • There’s a need to design advocacy that is geared towards a positive outcome. Advocacy goes beyond telling people to just go get their PVCs. Beyond the  Bill there has to be a structural change in the system so the millennials can actively participate” – Kego.
  • Some of the most ill-performed governors in Nigeria are the youngest. Millennials must go through the process so as to understand what to disrupt. You cannot just say you want to rush into it. Because while many are discussing disruption, they don’t know what they want to disrupt” – Oyebode.
  • Nigeria’s political system isn’t designed for competence but for cronies and settling people” – Kego.
  • Millennials participation in politics shouldn’t be necessarily confrontational. Leverage on the power of digital media” – Oyebode.
  • The advantage of youth is also its problem. People need a whole lot of coaching because inexperience is one of the major problems.”

The 8th edition held on Thursday the 25th of October at Civic Hive, 42 Montgomery Road, Yaba. The event which was hosted by BudgIT and moderated by Kunle (BudgIT) was a debate between Dolapo Ashiru (Managing Partner, Nirvana Consultants) and Sherif Adekoya (Senior Strategist, Insight Communication).

The conversation; “Nigeria at 58, The Independence Debate” witnessed discussions around Nigeria’s independence 58 years after – a look into the past and a critical analysis of the pitfalls of the economy.

 

Topic: #NigeriaAt58 – The Independence Debate

The conversation started with some pointers from both speakers on reasons why the economy still remains depraved, well after 58 years of Independence.

Sherif Adekoya bemoaned the ignorance of most Nigerian youths, the nonchalant approach to education and political knowledge. According to him “there is no vacuum in reality, when you do not get qualitative education, you begin to fill your social space with sentiments”. “People who are dry on knowledge, people who are ignorant tend to be more violent”.

He went on to explain the need for Nigerian youths to equip themselves with sufficient information on governance and politics of the state, stating that, “an average Nigerian under 30 is not well informed and when you are not well informed, you are not well formed to get the best out of you”. He ended this note on the need to re-educate the youth and re-educate them on what is expected of them.

 Cross-Section of panellists

Sherif Adekoya also delved into population explosion, the ever-increasing birth-rate and its debilitating effect on Nigeria’s economy. He explained that although ‘man power’ is increasing as a result of increased childbirth in the country, there are equally no increasing resources and opportunities for the teeming population.

Speaking about Governance, he said, “We cannot expect to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result”. According to him, the electorates should focus on demystifying archaic traditions of voting. Competence and character of candidates should be the criteria for voting as opposed to age, and political parties.

Democracy would work but we need a lot of sacrifice” he added.

The strength of this country is our diversity” Dolapo Ashiru said while speaking on the sustainability of the Nigerian Democracy. He elucidated by stating the need for synergy among all tribes to foster economic growth and development. He also stated that democracy is required to move the country forward and that could only be achieved once our votes start to count – also stating that we have no choice but to make democracy work.

 Cross-Section of panellists and participants

Furthermore, he stated that revolution has started in the country with the advent of the new media, CSOs like BudgIT, EiE Nigeria etc. Highlighting the fact that more and more people are clamouring on PVC collection, watching & counting votes, monitoring of the ballot boxes and lastly voting in elections, stating that “rigging elections these days is not that easy”.

He predicated that most politicians are inept because they lack passion, rather than focus on providing lasting solutions for the masses they are merely concerned with self-gratification.

If we eradicate corruption in Nigeria, we wouldn’t be having these conversations” Mr Sherif stated while speaking on corruption, “we can afford cake but we are getting bread”. There is a need to tell ourselves the truth, know what is working and what isn’t working.

In Conclusion, Mr Dolapo stated that Nigeria can work if we begin to get things right by enacting favourable policies beneficial to foreign and local investors which will aid economic growth and if citizens begin to circumspectly choose leaders who are credible rather than make choices based on prejudice.