Tuesday, March 26, 2019/01:20PM /Oando
In 2016, the United Nations introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the Resolution 70/1 of the United Nations General Assembly on transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 goals are built on the successes of Millennium Development Goals, including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice. Of all the SDGs, Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions have been considered both an end in itself, and a crucial part of delivering sustainable development in all countries. It has in fact been seen by many commentators as being the transformational goal and key to ensuring that the UN SDGs agenda can be accomplished.
To create conditions that would lead to inclusive decision-making and improve the rule of law, the private sector are playing more coordinated roles by championing initiatives that would increase active citizenship and prevent corruption. One of such initiative is the SDG 16 Innovation Challenge Nigeria, recently championed by Accountability Lab, an advocacy Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), focused on establishing change-makers to develop and implement positive ideas that promote integrity within their communities. The organization which prides itself for catalyzing a new generation of active citizens and responsible leaders around the world partnered with Oando PLC, Nigeria’s leading indigenous energy solutions provider and the Canadian Government.
The SDG 16 innovation challenge is an initiative to find creative solutions for SDG 16 on justice. The competition supports young men and women ages 15 – 35 years to develop ideas, build skills and connect with others working towards a shared goal of strengthening accountability, the rule of law and access to justice for Nigerians.
The top 40 ideas submitted for the innovation challenge were invited to a 3 day workshop in Abuja and Lagos respectively. In Abuja, twenty finalists were hosted to have a 3-day mentorship, training and brainstorming session to further refine their concepts.
In the Lagos edition, 20 finalists were hosted by Oando PLC at the company’s head office located at the Wings Office Complex, Victoria Island, Lagos from March 6th to 8th 2019. The finalists were opportune to engage with Oando PLC’s Chief Compliance Officer & Company Secretary, Ms. Ayotola Jagun. She spoke extensively on leadership and introduced the contestants to the idea of servant leadership; she went further to highlight the core skills required to be a leader which include emotional intelligence, being future oriented and having the disposition to serve. Wandoo Ihyembe-Hassan, Asset Manager, Oando Energy Resources, spoke on innovative thinking, social/digital innovation, emphasizing the premise of digital innovation and the ability for information to move at an unprecedented speed, which presents a unique opportunity for innovation. The participants then had a session on project management where they engaged in team building activities that enabled them refine, re-structure, plan and improve their project from a simple idea to full scale implementation. To achieve this, they engaged members of Oando PLC’s Corporate Governance and Oando Foundation team members who’s extensive experience and expertise provided the necessary tools to guide the entrants for the future rigors of their projects.
Following an extensive two-day session, the finalists were required to apply what they learnt to create a pitch which they presented to the judging panel. The panelists included; Mary Omonoyan of Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Mr. Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa of Civic Hive/BudgIT, Oluwafunmilayo Oguntoye, Governance Supervisor, Oando Trading, and Oghogho Aghimien, Governance Supervisor, Oando PLC. Speaking at the event, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa of , a Nigerian civic tech organization aimed at raising the standards of transparency, citizen engagement & accountability said: “I urge Nigerians, the youth especially to become more active in governance. Go beyond your social media profiles and look within your individual communities to see how you can make a difference in this country.” He commended the participants on their innovation, patriotism and hunger to push the SDG 16 agenda throughout the nation.
The culmination of the campaign was a pitch competition in front of a panel of judges, from which 2 winning ideas, one from Lagos and the other from Abuja, were chosen. In third place, from the Lagos edition, at 102 points was Thelma Ebube Obiakor; whose idea focused on improving learning outcomes of primary school students in Nigeria by making information readily available to parents and the public. According to her, by empowering the uneducated parents with easy to understand updates on the schools, the parents become more equipped to demand better for their children.
In second place at 103 points was Osaze Efe; he presented the idea of visual storytelling to educate citizens on the need to demand accountability about the gaps in the delivery of social justice. With his background as a photographer, he hopes to bring instances of the government falling short on their promises to the forefront for citizens to hold them accountable.
In first place at 107 points was Odunsi Oluwaseun Shekinah whose idea of a nationwide book donation drive hopes to provide educational resources to students in disadvantaged areas, via NGOs focused on education. In her words, “This idea will tremendously improve the quality of education within the more underdeveloped parts of Nigeria. One of the major disadvantages of the schools in the underdeveloped areas is the lack of resources to educate students outside the classroom. Within the developed schools, students are sent home with homework to expand their education and self-learning is promoted. With this idea I hope to bridge the gap of self-learning by providing students with resources they can take home. Through NGOs such as The Oando Foundation, Slum2School and many others, I hope to move the needle within the Nigeria’s educational crisis.” The winners, from Lagos and Abuja, will be eligible to further develop their ideas within Accountability Lab incubator; and possible financing from external partners.
Speaking on the significance of the cause, Prince Chimaroke Chukwuka, the Lead Communication Officer at Accountability Lab Nigeria said: “Youths are the driving force for tomorrow’s development of Africa and the rest of the world; it is for this reason that Accountability Lab Nigeria is committed to giving young people a platform to showcase creative and exciting ideas around SDG 16 which can support Nigeria in achieving good governance, quality rule of law and fair justice systems.”
The success of this event further reinforces the potency of shared values which involves cooperation across sectors and geography. Shared value emphasizes the importance of companies developing clusters of partners to create a virtuous cycle of localized economic growth and social development. This further calls for the private sector to rethink their strategies and integrate SDGs into their business models.