BudgIT Foundation, a civic-tech organisation making public data and budget more comprehensible, on Tuesday, kick-started the week-long celebration of ten years of civic innovation and social impact.
The anniversary tagged “A decade of civic-innovation and social impact” began with an anniversary lecture and award ceremony as well as a book launch in Abuja.
Slated to run from September 13 to 18, the anniversary is expected to host a series of signature events like hackathon, dinner and awards ceremony.
Speaking at Tuesday’s event, BudgIT’s lead director and co-founder, Oluseun Onigbinde, appraised the organisation’s journey over the decade.
He noted that resilience amid challenges has made the organisation to continue to drive fiscal transparency in the public sector.
“Despite the challenges, BudgIT has recorded significant achievements while facilitating improved fiscal transparency and accountability through social advocacy, civic innovation, institutional engagements, partnerships and active citizen mobilization,” Mr Onigbinde said in an earlier statement.
“We have played a major role in defining the landscape of Nigeria’s civic-tech space and we are currently engraving our footprints within Africa’s civic-tech space,” he added.
“The next ten years are very critical for us at BudgIT. We hope to scale our work across Africa and the Middle East. As a civic-tech powerhouse, we also aim to leverage emerging technologie to improve budget access and participatory governance, which is a very important aspect of what we do,” he noted.
“The last ten years have been nothing short of tremendous for us at BudgIT. Despite the challenges, BudgIT has recorded significant achievements while facilitating improved fiscal transparency and accountability through social advocacy, civic innovation, institutional engagements, partnerships and active citizen mobilization. We have played a major role in defining the landscape of Nigeria’s civic-tech space and we are currently engraving our footprints within Africa’s civic-tech space.”
On his part, the group’s co-founder and chief technical officer, Joseph Agunbiade, also reeled out the achievements of the group in its first decade.
A cross section of the participants at the event
“So far we have tracked over 16,738 projects worth billions of naira, ensured the completion of over 7000 constituency projects, facilitated 15,467 town hall meetings through our 37 project tracking officers across Nigeria, with support from over 1500 community champions currently present in 32 states. This makes us really proud of how far we have come,” Mr Agunbiade noted in a statement.
Founded in 2011 after a tech-in government competition, Mr Agunbiade said he bought Mr Onigbinde’s idea of BudgIT after “my idea was not selected at the hackathon.”
“It didn’t matter that my idea was not selected, all I wanted was to be a part of the solution to governance problems in Nigeria.”
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The platform launched its first website in September 2011, one Mr Onigbinde said “was a funny black website with just 3 circles and a bit shameful, but we were encouraged by CcHUB team that ‘it was good enough to start.’”
Now in four African countries, including Nigeria where millions of citizens have been reached, BudgIT has been part of some of the biggest advocacy projects and initiatives in Nigeria including the budget padding, OpenNass, OccupyNigeria, State of States and Open Budget campaigns, and was instrumental to the Nigerian government’s agreement to sign up for OGP in July 2016.
Mr Onigbinde also launched his new book, “The Existential Question,” a five-chapter prose driving social discussion around Nigeria and its resources, human capital, growth polls, and identity and people.
Also present at the event were Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT CEO; Josephine Nzerem, BudgIT board chair; Frank Nweke II, a Harvard University fellow; Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State Governor and Oby Ezekwesili, former education minister – both of whom joined virtually; as well as representatives of both local and international partners.