The 2023 HumAngle Accountability Fellowship officially kicked off yesterday, Jan. 12. All nine fellows arrived at the HumAngle HQ in Nigeria’s federal capital territory this week to undergo an intensive in-person training spanning a couple of days. Within the next few days, they will be trained by journalists and prominent professionals on a wide range of topics as they relate to accountability in the Northeast of the country.
On the first day of the training, HumAngle invited a number of professionals to hold sessions with the fellows, including Hamzat Lawal, founder and CEO of Connected Development (CODE), and anti-corruption activist.
As the activities of the fellows during the next six months will involve some grassroots organization, investigation, and advocacy, Hamzat shared his story with them. He began by taking a journey down memory lane, tracing his early days as an activist. He explained that his passion for justice was fueled by the state of lead poisoning in Bajega, Zamafara state in Northwest Nigeria, about 11 years ago. He was moved by the helpless state of the victims, particularly the children who were neglected by authorities.
Determined to give the victims support and ensure their plight is communicated so that they can get help, Hamzat had made a report that went viral and attracted the attention of both local and international media. He said, “it was not about me but the people and the community.”
His work has since branched out to include issues around accountability as it relates to security funding. He had observed years ago that funds allocated to victims of insecurity, conflict, and other forms of the crisis were mismanaged. This realization led him to start Follow the money, an initiative that currently has over 10,000 volunteers, composed of data analysts, journalists, and students.
His talk on accountability proved useful to the fellows as it is what they will be working around during the fellowship. The fellowship, which is funded by the MacArthur Foundation, aims to prepare young people in the BAY states (Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe) to develop local projects around accountability in the security and humanitarian sectors, climate security, education, sexual and gender-based violence, and transitional justice.
While advising the HumAngle fellows, Hamzat charged them to be dedicated and focused. He urged them to pursue integrity in carrying out their designed projects. He noted that popularity and publicity will come but they must choose integrity and be genuine. According to him, “everybody can make money but not everybody can make an impact.”
He also highlighted several challenges they may face such as bribery, limited access to victims, and influence from external forces among others. He urged them to ensure that their stories are balanced and always dwell on facts. He also advised them to learn from their mistakes and see every challenge as an opportunity to do better.
In an interview with some of the fellows, they expressed their gratitude to HumAngle for bringing Hamzat Lawal on board. According to Ijasini Ijani, a fellow, Hamzat’s advocacy journey has triggered his passion for investigative journalism.
Abubakar Muktar Abba, another fellow, expressed his excitement, stating that he is glad Hamsat was invited to speak to them. Abubakar plans to implement all the lessons Hamsat has shared with the fellows while Yasmin Buba said that Hamsat’s passion is infectious and has fueled her passion for societal development.
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