Gothenburg Award: Nigeria’s Hamzat Lawal emerges among top finalists

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Nigeria’s Hamzat Lawal has emerged as one of five finalists in the competition for the WIN-WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award a leading award that aims to recognise and support outstanding contributions from around the world.

The competition received 64 nominations from 34 countries and Lawal is the only African on the list. This year’s theme is anti-corruption.

Lawal is a Nigerian anti-corruption activist and co-founder of the organisation Connected Development and the Follow the Money initiative.

He is a graduate of the University of Abuja with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

The jury nominated Lawal for his “tireless commitment to strengthening the local civil society and for his large-scale campaigns which have succeeded in creating transparency about public spending and ensuring that international aid funds end up where they should.”

According to Technext, he started Follow The Money in 2012 following a media blackout on about 700 children that died in Bagega, Zamfara State.

A few reports claimed that 400 children had died, 1500 were very sick and their environment was contaminated. He launched the campaign called #Savebagega which went viral and got the attention of the government.

Within 72 hours of the campaign, the federal government approved a sum of $5.3 million for the cause.

Lawal started following the movement of the money from Abuja to Zamfara and then to the Bagega community.

Follow The Money is a social enterprise that comprises a team of technology and innovation-driven campaigners including data analysts and journalists.

The organisation tracks the use of public funds to ensure that they are handled with accountability.

Every year, $4 billion is lost to corruption across the world, according to Emma Dalvag, chairperson of the WIN-WIN award jury. Fighting corruption is therefore a courageous task.

Responding to his selection as one of the finalists, Hamzat Lawal said: “The work of Follow The Money is tackling corruption in government’s funding and ensuring that everyone, even in the remote areas, has equal access to basic needs.”

Lawal is also a co-convener of the Not Too Young To Run movement, a Nigerian Youth movement whose support for young people’s right to run for political offices ensured that an age reduction bill was passed across the country promoting youth inclusion in Nigeria’s politics.

He is an executive board member of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change.

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