#ThursdayTalks which started in March 2018 is a monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens which aims to drive conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship.

It is organized by EiE Nigeria, BudgIT, and the Future Project with YNaija is the media partner.
Every last Thursday of each month, Lagosians gather at Civic Hive in Yaba to discuss wide-ranging issues on governance and polity. 

2020

Topic: Making your Local Government work for you. 

Speakers:

  • Abidemi Adeoye
    • Project Lead, GovMetre
  • Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa
    • Manager, CivicHive
  • Dapo Awobeku
    • EiE Nigeria
  • Kayode Omiyale
    • Yaba LCDA Chair
  • AILERU Bolanle Nurudeen
    • Vice Chairman, Yaba LCDA 

Event snapshots

Two years is a short time but a long time to do great things. This was a highpoint at Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria‘s Thursday Talks, a monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens aimed at driving conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship. The initiative which started two years ago has truly grown into a reliable nation-wide conversation platform.

On this edition, Osayi Alile (CEO, Act Foundation) and Innocent Chukwuma (Regional Director, West Africa, Ford Foundation) discussed ‘The Future of Philanthropy in Nigeria,’ moderated by ‘Gbenga Sesan and Yemi Adamolekun.

Starting the conversation, Osayi asked if people really believe what they say when going on any stage. And applying this to NGOs, ‘are they providing sustainable solutionsDo they believe in themselves?’

Before we think of sustainability, we need to first think of survival irrespective of what is going on. We need to think of new ways of managing the situation,’ Osayi says.

In his vast experience in philanthropy, Innocent said social enterprises need to think less of charity in philanthropy and focus more on justice. ‘We should be moving from generosity to justice, especially now that COVID-19 has shown the gross inequality in the economic sector.

If we don’t move from generosity to justice, we won’t be able to talk about sustainability.

Charity is important in philanthropy but we need to dive deeply into the ultimate objective which is justice – speaking for the voiceless.’

In his explanation, Innocent gives example of the lockdown in Nigeria and how we have failed to realise that about 90% of Nigerians feed from hand to mouth. ‘What are social enterprises doing about this? Are they asking questions?’

Osayi reiterated Innocent who mentioned that people with philanthropic ideas do not need to open some other enterprise when they could just take the idea to an existing entity.

Innocent also insisted that NGOs need to stop depending on grants and look to solving problems that can turn into products that people will want to pay for.

There is a market for solving social problems that do not have to be solved by grants,’ Innocent says.

See video for more:

Thursday Talks Lagos which holds on the last Thursday of every month is an initiative of Enough is Enough (EiE Nigeria); a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability through active citizenship, The Future Project (TFP); a not-for-profit organisation committed to building empowered citizens across Africa, through (inclusive) enterprise and (active) citizenship and BudgIT; a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement to facilitate societal change.

The initiative is proudly supported by YNaija, the internet newspaper for young Nigerians, focused on the issues and ideas that matter for an evolving generation.

In continuation of the call for good governance, Thursday Talks, the monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens aimed at driving conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship held on Thursday, 28th May.

The conversation moderated by Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq, with panelists, Yinka Ogunnubi and Ayo Sogunro was titled “The Future of Governance: Leading an electorate in the era of social distancing.”

Aimed at continuing a push to ensure the status quo in governance changes, the May edition took a shot at proferring sustainable methods to change the way we look at governance in Nigeria; with a special focus on reforms.

 

Kicking off the discourse, Temidayo asked what the panelists think of government efforts towards stopping the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and Ayo insisted that the bulk of the credit should be given to the people who have led interventions – hardly the government.

Yinka, who is known for his strict call for social justice said we need to look at present realities to mold how the future will turn out. “The reality right now is, there’s a way we have been doing things…we can’t continue that way,” Yinka says. “How do we amend our laws for the post-COVID world.”

He adds, “We have to begin to look at the way we do governance. It has to change, has to be reflective of what the future holds. State governments should put a stop to politics and populist moves and focus on reforms.”

For Ayo, “we need a situation where every local government has the data of every resident in the local government. This data can be used by the state government for policies.”

Ayo adds that our systems are only relics of the colonial era and there’s a need to tune in to modern systems, so there is actual development.

It is interesting how a few state governments are looking at a post-COVID era and taking steps to do better. However, we are still trying to pack our bags in this journey and we all need to continue to demand good progressive governance and work with the government to make this work.

“How is the government spending COVID-19 funds?” a troubling question that plagues the minds of many Nigerians.

June edition of Thursday Talks; a monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens aimed at driving conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship, attempted answering this question and establishing the importance of holding the government accountable as it relates to funds allocated to the fight against COVID-19.

The conversation which held on 25th of June 2020, was moderated by the Manager of Civic Hive, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, and had Busayo Morakinyo, Community Engagement Manager for Follow The Money as well as Saied Tafida, Lead of Follow Taxes on the panel.

The current Coronavirus pandemic has led to the outpour of resources into the health sector in a bid to curb the spread of the disease and possible death. Donations have been raised, budgets have been drawn up to cater to the establishment of COVID-19 isolation centres, provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other necessary facilities. This concerns that the Nigerian Government is actually using the raised funds for the aforementioned purposes.

Oyo leads the pack

Right off the bat, the information released by the Oyo State Government declaring a total of 2billion, 779million naira spent on COVID-19 related expenses was tabled. Busayo highlighted that while it’s important to question how this money was spent, it is important to note that Oyo State is part of the select few that have released their figures. He stressed that states are refusing to be transparent with their figures, which makes accountability difficult.

Corruption in state governance

In dissecting the reasons for this troubling issue, the speakers highlighted that COVID-19 hasn’t changed the normal trend of questionable practices in the government. Corruption was in existence before COVID-19, and still is. They also declared that the states can’t show us what they don’t have, and many didn’t have detailed records of their expenditure.

It was emphasised that not only do the State Government have a moral obligation to make these records public, it is also important to make accountability possible. The government was directed to put its citizens first.

Civil society campaign for accountability

The conversation harped on the activities of the civil society organisations to which the panelists belong, as they stressed on what they have been doing to ensure accountability is made possible.

Saied, declared that they’ve been tracking the figures since March, even though it’s considerably difficult due to movement restrictions. It was expressed that social listening was being utilised and a considerable amount of data mining was done to ensure the collation of COVID-19 expenditure data. Busayo also declared that “Follow The Money” radio had been launched in several states to disseminate and also obtain information on COVID -19 resources.

The way forward

Whilst it was clear that they were putting in a surmountable amount of effort, the speakers also stressed the need for audience members to play their part. They emphasised that Nigerians need to ensure they are pushing states to be responsible and to do this, citizens are expected to create a push and apply pressure.

Nigerians are admonished to ask those in government questions; bringing up the Freedom of Information Act enacted during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The speakers pinpointed that this empowers citizens, the right to ask government organisations for the COVID-19 fund allocation details, helping to hold them accountable.

A noteworthy point that viewers were left with is that Nigeria was still afar off from where it should be, but conversations like this were a start.

2019

The first edition of #ThursdayTalks for this year will be holding on January 31, 2019. This month edition would be exploring the role of the media in the upcoming election, with special focus on the subject of fake news.

 The topic is #NigeriaDecides2019‘Role of the media in the election: Addressing Fake News.’ The guest discussants are David Ajikobi, Nigeria Editor for Africa Check, Hannah Ojo, an Investigative Journalist with The Nation and TruttBuzz Fellow, (International Centre for Journalists) and Jude Egbas, Journalist with Pulse Nigeria.

It was an insightful moment at the April edition of Thursday Talks, the monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens aimed at driving conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship.

In what can be termed a special edition, the participants converged at Filmhouse Cinema, Surulere to watch 4th Republic, the “thrilling political procedural movie that chronicles Nigeria’s political and electoral system in the last two decades,” and was thereafter followed by a conversation with Kate Henshaw, the Lead Actress in the movie, as well as Ferdinand ‘Ladi Adimefe, a House of Representatives candidate for Eti-Osa Federal Constituency in the just concluded National Assembly election.

 

The ensuing panel anchored by Team Lead, The Future Project, Ms. Bukonla Adebakin, saw participants listen to the exciting political journeys of both panelists while answering questions on their experience in the game and solutions to the myriad of challenges affecting the country, especially in relation to leadership and accountability.

Sharing his experience, Ferdy Adimefe who ran for office on the platform of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) said his decision to present himself as a representative in his locality was borne out of the fact that having joined civic engagements in the past, he saw it as a moral obligation to do more in engaging the system in the area of policy making for the good of all. Explaining that he also suffered moral tension at some point in the race as catalogued in the movie, the Digital Media Entrepreneur charged young people to get off the high horse of criticism and do more to make the country better.

 

Ferdy who said he hopes to run again in 2023 added that with the lessons learnt from the 2019 general elections, he has already begun a chapter of consistent involvement in the process, but says he doesn’t mind supporting a like mind for the office as he is not necessarily interested in being the poster boy.

On the part of Ms. Henshaw, who herself ran in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) December 2014 primaries to represent Calabar South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives,  she enjoined the youth to join political parties (including the dominant political parties at current) so as to influence the choice of candidates for elections which she said was a critical part of getting it right in the march to right the wrongs of leadership in the country.

Explaining that she among many considerations chose to star in the movie because it gave her a chance the relieve the moment of her short-lived political career, given that the script was very realistic. The Nollywood legend equally advocated for men to support competent female aspirants in order to ensure that the country moves forward while charging everyone present to move beyond criticising those in power to engaging people everywhere including in their private spaces when they do wrong.

Thursday Talks Lagos which holds on the last Thursday of every month is an initiative of The Future Project (TFP), a not-for-profit organisation committed to building empowered citizens across Africa, through (inclusive) enterprise and (active) citizenship; Enough is Enough (EiE Nigeria); a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability through active citizenship, and BudgIT; a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change.

The initiative is proudly supported by YNaija, the internet newspaper for young Nigerians, focused on the issues and ideas that matter for an evolving generation.

It was an insightful moment at the April edition of Thursday Talks, the monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens aimed at driving conversations around the demand

When the late mountaineer and philanthropist, Edmund Percival Hillary remarked that “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things,” he may never have had Nigeria in mind or thought of Africa.

With the challenges bedeviling democracy in a country like ours, however, where many have become accustomed to alarming anomalies like police brutality and high-handedness on the part of security agencies; sexual assault, fear of government, unwillingness to question the lack of probity, transparency and accountability of state institutions, that statement has increasingly resounded in our space as stories are replete of individuals standing out to brave the odds and maximize the ‘Office of the Citizen’ to echo sanity in the polity.

Flowing from this, the need to hear their stories, achievements and the challenges they face in the course of their advocacy voyage, took centre-stage at the June edition of Thursday Talks; a monthly conversation with thought leaders, change agents and active citizens aimed at driving conversations around the demand for good governance driven by active citizenship.

 

The event themed ‘Ordinary Citizens doing Extraordinary Things’ was anchored by Dapo Awobeku and had on the panel, Rights Activist and #ReformPolice campaigner, Segun ‘Segalink’ Awosanya, Freedom of Information (FOI) Champion; Alo Martins and Founder of #MarketMarch; Damilola Marcus who in sharing their experiences harped on the need for citizens who desire change to  do away with the culture of fear and take responsibility for their individual spaces.

On the part of Alo Martins, who gave a vivid account of a recent ‘Freedom of Information case’ he fought with the Ondo State Government, he listed the challenges he faced to include “States of the federation” claiming not to be bound by federal laws, finance and discouragement from relatives and friends. He went on to explain how he received assistance for ‘his case’ from Pro Bono lawyers to the point that he was questioned by top officials what his ‘real interest’ was, for pursuing such a sensitive case.

Calling on the National Orientation Agency (N.O.A) to publicize major laws made in the country, Martins advocated the need for more Nigerians to write F.O.I requests where the need arise, as no special qualification is required for same; stressing that citizens have a huge role in making laws work for the country since they cannot fight on their own.

In explaining the motive behind her foray into activism/advocacy, Damilola Marcus noted that although she wasn’t directly affected by the abuse of women in Lagos markets, the #YabaMarketMarch was inspired by the deep concern she felt about the culture of abuse already taken as a norm in the country, leading her to research on what she could do to help the situation.

 

She remarked that though change may be slow; the movement was embarking on underground measures through the help of stakeholders and a committee set up to ensure cultural change.

 

For the #ENDSARS Campaigner, he lamented the unhealthy practice of disintegrating the police into units in a bid to whittle down its power coupled with the disgraceful attitude of government towards Police welfare and institutions, as reflected in the dilapidated state of the Police Academy and Police Colleges.

 

Segalink listed the gains of his advocacy movement to include: the passing into law of the Police Trust Fund Bill without monetary inducement, the Police Reform Bill after 70 years of operating under an archaic Act and Restructuring of the Police Complaint Unit to allow for collaboration with civil organisations amongst many others.

 

He also stated that the weaponisation of poverty in the country by the political class stands as a major challenge in the ‘business of advocacy,’ adding that the culture of impunity in the country had become systemic with no respect for religion, ethnicity or political party.

 

Thursday Talks Lagos which holds on the last Thursday of every month is an initiative of The Future Project (TFP), a not-for-profit organisation committed to building empowered citizens across Africa, through (inclusive) enterprise and (active) citizenship; Enough is Enough (EiE Nigeria); a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability through active citizenship, and BudgIT; a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change.

The initiative is proudly supported by YNaija, the internet newspaper for young Nigerians, focused on the issues and ideas that matter for an evolving generation.

This edition of Thursday Talks focuses on the new directive from the National Electric  Regulatory Commission to meter electric consumers. The order which was given to all DisCos was slated to commence on the 1st of May 2019. Permission was given to several meter asset providers (M.A.Ps) to partner with the Discos for the effective running of the project.  

Mr Felix Ofulue gave a brief summary of the importance of the new metering scheme and how it would benefit the average electric consumer. He gave the benefits as being the end to over-estimated billing which is the highest complaints from consumers, “illegal disconnection would be a thing of the past,” according to him, as consumers would no longer be owing to the DisCos except for cases where bills were not paid before the procurement of meters.

He spoke extensively on the role of the DisCos in procuring meters for interested consumers. According to him, consumers are to visit the website page of their various DisCos for directions on steps to being metered. “The DisCos are responsible for inspecting the house to be metered and providing the necessary information on what meter would be most appropriate for the building; there are two types of meter-the two-phase meter and the three-phase meter.

“Most people mistake the three-phase meter for having three phases of power outlet or lines, where they can change from one line to the other when perhaps there is no light in one, this is very wrong and illegal, people need to stop this act” he lamented.

Speaking on the reasons why consumers are paying for meters as opposed being metered freely by the DisCos, Mr Felix Ofulue predicated that the current amount for the purchase of the meters are; N38,850 for single-phase meter and N70,350 for three-phase meter (VAT Inclusive), this includes installation and periodic maintenance. According to him, the DisCos cannot procure free meters to the 4.7 million unmetered consumers because the M.A.Ps have to make profits as they are the suppliers of the meters. “Consumers are expected to pay half of the current bill they are owing before they can be given meters, in case of over-estimated bills or cases where there is an issue with the bill, they would be issued a fair hearing during application for meters. I would advise everyone to start their application for meters to put an end to estimated billing challenges.” 

He advised consumers to scrupulously make the right inquiries when considering renting a building or apartment. “The DisCo officials can come to the apartment and help you verify if the building has accumulated bills, also every building that is given power is registered under the DisCo’s database, that way consumers can go with the address and verify if the building is free from debt. Landlords are advised to notify the DisCos if their buildings become vacant to stop the supply of power and avoid wrongful estimated billings and accumulated debt.

He also reiterated the fact that meters are owned by the DisCos and consumers have no right to move the meters from one property to the other.

He stated that “all payments for meters should be made into the authorized bank account of the MAP. No customer should pay cash for meters to any individual”.

Conclusively, Mr.Felix Ofulue responded to complaints from the audience. He addressed the issue of load shedding, estimated bills, lack of power supply, and metering. He also admonished power consumers to get their meters as this would end estimated billings and illegal disconnections. “Some people have paid for their meters but are yet to be metered, be rest assured that you would be metered, the list of consumers who have paid and need to be metered is overwhelming but the DisCos are working tirelessly to ensure everyone is metered”. 

Easy Steps to Getting Metered

  • To commence application for meter, customers are expected to visit their various DisCos or go to their website.
  • The customer’s location would be surveyed after completion of the Know Your Customer (K.Y.C) process.
  • Customers are advised on payment for meter after completion of the survey. They can pay either full payment or in installments.
  • The customer will be metered within 10 days after payment is made.

Benefits of Meters

  • No more estimated billing as you pay for the exact energy consumed
  • The smart meters allow you to better manage your consumption.
  • You can pay for electricity online and via all our payment channels.
  • No more disconnection for non-payment of bills.
 

It is believed that ‘1 in every 3 Nigerians want to leave the country for foreign shores.’ To examine creative ways of stemming the disturbing trend, therefore, in lieu of the need for citizens to harness the power of their office, organisers of #ThursdayTalksLagos focused its November edition on Greener Pastures: “The Role of Citizens and Leaders in Nigeria.”

Group CEO, RED | For Africa and guest speaker, Adebola Williams at the panel moderated by Oluwamayowa Tijani of The Cable in providing answers to the question ‘Are there are greener pastures?’  noted that “the grass is only greener where it properly watered, manured and weeded regularly.”

‘Debola Lagos’ as he is popularly known bemoaned the fact that a lot of Nigerians compare their country to the first world at the slightest opportunity, forgetting that shanties exist in those climes. He further explained that a major distinguishing line between Nigeria and a number of countries around the world is the lack of and/or deplorable state of basic infrastructure and benefits.

 

 

We keep pointing fingers, forgetting other fingers are pointing at us

Reminding everyone present that there is a growing number of ‘Nigerians shinning in Nigeria,’ he urged them to look into the mirror and think beyond personal survival but communal survival noting that “until people start taking responsibility we will keep pointing fingers.”

Although he alluded to the fact that many a time, it would seem like the entire system in the country is set up against the ordinary Nigerian, he posed a question a to the audience, “If the system is set up against you; what are you doing to correct same?”

“Anywhere you are in the world, always remember that you are water to Africa. This will allow the grass to get greener, so you don’t meet a desert when you are back,” he said.

Leaders need to take the mandate of leaving a legacy serious

“It is difficult to build institutions with majority of politicians dominating the space. You need leaders who are reform-minded. People who want to take the job as an assignment they must pass.”

Popular Participation

On the issue of popular participation, he noted that it was important that Nigerians learned lessons from the last two general elections by believing in their convictions henceforth and look towards building blocks for a new movement.

He listed the number of weapons been used by the political class against citizens to include apathy, ignorance, corruption, ethnicity, religion amongst other things after which he charged Nigerians to use the #OfficeOfTheCitizen to:

a) Hold government accountable

b) Find bridge builders and convince the gatekeepers in government

c) Seek international support for the ideals and changes they desire to see.

 

2018

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!

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 panelists

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 panelists

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 panelists

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 panelists

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 panelists 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.

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