LAGOS, 3 May 2011 — The Ford Foundation announced today that it has selected the Development Initiatives Network (DIN) to manage the application process for the foundation’s $1 million Jubilee Transparency Awards. DIN is a development organization working on public interest issues in Nigeria, and is a respected Ford Foundation grantee.

The foundation also announced that the Rev. Fr. Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah will chair an eight-member National Awards Committee that will work with DIN and oversee the selection of up to 10 awardees.

Members of the awards committee also include:

Former Supreme Court Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte
Journalist and civil society leader Bilkisu Yusuf
TY Bello, internationally acclaimed musician and photographer
The youngest Nigeria Media Merit Award winner, Chude Jideonwo
Nurudeen Lemu, Assistant General Secretary of the Islamic Education Trust
Mrs. Victoria Aiyeyemi, a community leader and school proprietor

The transparency awards, which were announced in October 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ford Foundation’s presence in West Africa, will recognize and reward outstanding initiatives that promote transparency, good governance, and integrity at the community level in Nigeria. The foundation believes that strong democracies rely on transparency, citizen engagement, and good governance at all levels, and has long supported initiatives in Nigeria and around the world to promote these values.

Dr. Adhiambo Odaga, the representative for Ford’s West Africa office, said that the foundation has a special relationship with Nigeria dating back to the country’s independence. She said that the recent elections, as well as the spread of democratic values and accelerated social change across the sub-region, signaled the potential for a new era of democratic growth for West Africa.

“We envision a future in which West Africans and their governments leverage the region’s extraordinary human and natural resources for the common good,” Dr. Odaga said. “That future—in which all people have both the right and the opportunity to achieve their potential—begins with citizen involvement and good governance.” She said the convergence of the Ford Foundation’s golden jubilee in West Africa and Nigeria’s 50th Independence anniversary gives the awards special relevance.

The foundation said the awards have two objectives: First, to recognize innovative projects and programs that promote transparent, effective and accountable governance at the community level in Nigeria; and second, to showcase the impact of these projects as models for deepening democracy, good governance and anti-corruption across the country. Awardees will be required to use the prize money to enhance the scale and impact of their work.

The one-time program will conclude at the end of the Jubilee year in September 2011, and the selection of the awardees will be supervised by a National Awards Committee chaired by Rev. Kukah, an internationally respected commentator on issues such as religion, ethnicity, civil/military relations and human rights.

DIN will act as secretariat for the awards process, managing applications and verification, and supporting the work of the National Awards Committee. The committee will be solely responsible for selecting a shortlist of nominations from the total nominee pool, and for selecting the final group of awardees. There will also be an Awards Verification Committee, headed by noted legal scholar Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, which will carry out a process of verification to ensure the validity and integrity of each organization that makes it to the short-listed round of nominees.

Dr. Bola Fajemirokun, the executive director of the Development Initiatives Network, will be the awards secretary. Her organization has received a grant from the Ford Foundation to manage the entire process in support of the National Awards Committee and the Awards Verification Committee.

Mr. Kayode Samuel, a communication and public policy specialist, will serve as consultant to the awards committee and will help the committee execute its duties.

The Ford Foundation emphasized that the National Awards Committee will make the selections independently, and may select any number of awardees up to 10. Selected winners will receive the grants directly from the Ford Foundation, which will give final approval to the winners in accordance with its global grantmaking guidelines and standards.

Nominations will be open starting on Wednesday, May 4.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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