The UK government revealed that it supported a Nigerian youth focused non-profit, YIAGA Africa with £795,000 (approx N374m) for the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing made the remarks speaking at The Convergence 2.0 forum which brought together newly elected young representatives in Abuja. Laing praised the outstanding feat achieved by the group through the support of the UK government. She said “75 per cent of those we supported won the election. What matters is the future of Nigeria.”
Why it matters: A number of Nigerians especially on social media have raised two contentious issues around this statement.
- First, the issue of funding was raised. A number of people questioned whether the funds might have been underutilized based on the volume thrown into backing the advocacy.
- Secondly, some other observers appeared to have interpreted the top UK diplomat’s remarks as a form of interference in the internal politics of Nigeria. However, the full context of her remarks seemed suggestive of broader support for political inclusion in Nigeria.
“You now hold a special place in Nigeria’s history, but you need to decide whether you are content just being the first young group of representatives’, or you would rather be the first wave of change that brought a new dimension to Nigerian politics…. This is the beginning of a journey. International partners such as the UK can only support you, but the responsibility is yours to take Nigeria to the next level,” Laing said.
What we know about YIAGA’s funding: YIAGA Africa has received close to $3m (including the £795,000 from UKAID) over the last three years in grant funding. According to publicly available grants databases, the organization got a joint grant of 3 million euros from the European Union, $480,000 from Mac Arthur Foundation, $136,235 from the National Endowment for Democracy (2017, 2018) AND $150,000 from Ford Foundation. These funds were applied across YIAGA’s youth advocacy, elections and anti-corruption projects. TheScoop visited the organization’s website but did not find financial information on these projects.
Bottomline: YIAGA has undoubtedly led a successful advocacy through its coordinating role in the #NotTooYoungRun movement. The organization has an opportunity to take its leadership further by providing financial information and open its books to the public especially in light of questions concerning the utilization of donor funds that continue to hang around the necks of several Nigerian non-profits with high profile funding status.