Wednesday 22 September 2021


It was more than a mere coincidence that Oxfam Nigeria via the Voice Project awarded grants to selected awardees on the 21st of September 2021, which is also International Peace Day (IPD). The theme for this year's IPD is 'Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world'. It is instructive  that Oxfam awarded grants in various categories to promote equity, inclusivity, sustainability, social engineering/cohesion, democratic ideals, expansion of the civic space, etc. At the event, there were representatives from the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Correctional Service, National Orientation Agency (NOA), many NGOs and Special guests. 

This was the media event for the 2020/2021 Voice Grantees inception. It was the very first time the media would be invited to witness the formal award of grants to 'Right-holders' (Oxfam's euphemism for grantees). Before now, similar events were held to commemorate the successful completion of projects by Right-holders. See for example I was a special guest at the media parley. Oxfam Nigeria has doled out more than 4 million Euros to Right-holders in the past five years.

                                  Pelemo Nyajo, the Poet from 'The Street Project'

For me, the star of the show was Pelemo Nyajo a talented Poet living with disability from the stable of 'The Street Project', who set the stage with the 'soulful' rendition of her audacious poem titled 'My People', which is social satire, highlighting injustice via Police brutality, rights abuses, extortion, unequal access to social goods and services, etc. Let's take a sneak peek into Pelemo's mind via a few lines from her poem:

My People, My People by Pelemo Nyajo

My people, my people. 

After I heard about the snake that swallowed millions of Naira, 

I didn't believe there would be any greater show of tragi-comedy in Nigeria.

Nollywood hasn't failed, neither have the producers, but they have a superior

The Nigerian government, or should I say the government of UAR?

And they are at it again, teaching us that being born into Africa's giant means war.

Our bodies were crafted as defense in the fences of our mothers' wombs.

How could we hear that people died, holding the Nigerian flag, upholding their own nation?

They went six feet under...

Indeed, we are making history with stories that may never get into history textbooks... 

                                 Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa speaking at the event

The Voice Project grants are in three major categories: *Influencer, *Sudden Opportunity (SO) & *Innovation/Learning (IL). The projects in the influencer category seek to effect positive change in social behaviour. Sudden Opportunity projects seek to take advantage of spontaneous social eruption for desirable and enduring paradigm shift in citizen engagement with the governance process. Innovation/Learning seeks to take cues from the influencer and SO categories by processing lessons learnt from processes undergone and adapting same for social cohesion, going forward.

           Mrs. Ijeoma Okwor (Coordinator of the Voice Project), making her presentation

What then are the goals, why give out these grants? Right-holders' organisations/groups are empowered to use their influencing capacity to push for their voices to be heard, respected and included. Consequently, empowered Right-holders are able to express their views and demand their rights for response and inclusive governance/society. From Ijeoma Okwor's presentation, I garnered the following:

8 grants were awarded in the Influencer category:

1) Street Project Foundation: 'Artvocacy' project for 12 months @ 140,000 Euros.

2) Public & Private Development Centre (PPDC): Inclusive governance through civic engagement for 18 months @ 99,000 Euros.

3) Centre for Citizens with Disability: Justice & political participation for PWDs for 24 months @ 81,437 Euros.

4) Network of Youths for Sustainable Initiatives: Promoting accountability and greater participation of youths in governance for 20 months.

5) Carmalite Prisoners' Interest Organisation: 'Polrite 23' to ensure that inmates vote in the 2023 elections @ 86,093 Euros.

6) Centre for Ability, Rehabilitation & Empowerment: 'Access for All' to stop discrimination against PWDs in the aviation sector @ 54,610 Euros.

7) Connected Development (CODE): 'SABI' - Men as advocates against GBV for 18 months @ 142,453 Euros.

8) YIAGA Africa Initiative: 'Run to Win' - Supporting young people with competence to run for elections for 18 months @ 140,049 Euros.

In the SO category, 6 NGOs were awarded grants to interrogate various aspects of the EndSARS protest. Under the Innovation/Learning category, COGNITO Studio & NINE: 'Connecting Voices in Nigeria' to facilitate, motivate and support grantees' linking & Learning (LL) activities in Nigeria @ 249,895 Euros. Africa Caribbean Heritage Alliance: 'Celebrating inclusion in Nigeria' for 24 months @ 107,937 Euros. The outstanding grants for 2021 are the Voice Empowerment & Accelerator grants. To track these projects, see

Wow! This was the first time Oxfam was inviting the media to witness the grantees' inception where the amounts doled out to each of them was announced. Speakers at the event admonished the Right-holders to be good ambassadors of their various organisations by ensuring that the principles of transparency and accountability are strictly adhered to. In my speech, I emphasised that Oxfam should be even more diligent in monitoring and evaluating the Right-holders so that the aims of the various projects are accomplished.

For the next grant season, I expect an avalanche of applications since the public now knows how much was doled out this season. I can assure the impending applicants that the selection process at Oxfam is rigorous to say the least. But with the youth bulge and high rate of unemployment and hunger in the country, many citizens, both old and young would give the submission of proposals a shot. I commend Qxfam and her partners for this laudable concept of engendering social engineering via system relevant projects for positive change in our clime... Bravo!

                             Pelemo Nyajo, The Poet, being interviewed by the media


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