Voice Nigeria: Oxfam advises NGOs, CSOs on utilising funds from donors

An international organisation, Oxfam, has advised non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisation (CSOs) and other volunteer groups to be transparent and accountable in utilising funds gotten from donor agencies.

Addressing participants Tuesday in Abuja during the Voice grantees inception, the Project Coordinator, Voice in Nigeria, Ijeoma Okwor, said that the project, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, has been able to impact on the lives of Nigerians through grants for NGOs for different projects.

She said: “Voice is implemented in 10 countries. It is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands. Oxfam is implementing Voice in Nigeria. Since 2017, we’ve been giving out grants in Nigeria. For this year, we have given out 15 grants ranging from 100,000 Euros to 200,000 Euros and above. For instance, in the Influencing Grant, we have 8 grantees, including YIAGA Africa, Connected Development, Street Project Foundation, Centre for Citizens with Disability, Network of Youths for Sustainable Development, Centre for Ability, Rehabilitation and Empowerment, among others. Under Sudden Opportunity, which was in response to EndSARS, we have six grantees, where you have Integrity Technology, among others. We also have Empowerment Grant, Innovate and Learn Grant.

“The grants are to tackle a lot of issues in Nigeria. For instance, the EndSARS protest and COVID-19 exposed a lot of issues in Nigeria, including the way we do things, lack of accountability, transparency, etc on the part of state actors. So, this grant mobilises the young people as they bear the brunt of things, which we saw during the EndSARS protest and Covid-19 lockdown. We don’t want youths to engage in just going to the street to protest. We want them to use their skills, voice, anything they have in a nonviolent and less confrontational way to speak to the authorities on what they want. In fact, we are proposing a project for young Nigerians, lawmakers, local authorities and various communities for betterment of the country.

“The issue of persons with disabilities are also our major concern. Often times, you hear of the flight of persons with disability (PWDs) cancelled because the airline companies don’t have facilities to support PWDs. The Access for All Project takes care of the concerns of handling issues affecting PWDs. If you want to help a lady on a wheelchair, you don’t just grab her by the breasts and all that. So, it is all about sensitisation and going back to our laws, engaging the aviation industry, lawmakers, CSOs and so on.”

She added: “One of the successes we have recorded in Voice in Nigeria is the gender sensitive manual. Today, if you go to our Correctional Services, every officer is trained on the gender sensitive manual so that inmates can be treated with dignity. They might be incarcerated, but they are still Nigerians and human beings with rights. When we started Voice, one of the things we considered was how to engage young people. They are a lot of issues affecting young people, including unemployment, drug abuse, among others. We knew we can’t do it all, so we thought of what to do. Today, Voice has a movement with coordinated young people that are using their acts for betterment of society. Nigerian youths are very talented, so we were able to channel these talents into useful things, like demanding for transparency, accountability and demanding for good governance.

“However, funding is dwindling for CSOs and NGOs. This is because a lot of donors are concerned with Nigeria and how NGOs utilise money meant for projects. So, my advice to CSOs is to utilise the little opportunity we have as a country. Let’s make the best of it because if these donors are not here, we still have to do our jobs. Let’s be transparent and accountable in the way we do things. Let’s coordinate better and leverage on what others have done, so that we don’t duplicate interventions. We should partner because I see the sector as a kind of brotherhood, where you learn from each other and share whatever you have; in order to maximise impacts already made in the country.

“At Voice Nigeria, there is space for everyone if we all make little effort to be more inclusive. Let’s ensure that in our work, no one is left behind. Indeed,  all  the efforts  of government, development sector and  private sector,  can only be impactful  if  the beneficiaries of  our intervention  are  involved in all  our processes.”