Ford Foundation announces Jubilee Transparency Award winners

NEW YORK, 21 November 2011 — The Ford Foundation today announced the winners of its Jubilee Transparency Awards, a special set of grants that mark Ford’s 50th anniversary in West Africa by supporting organizations committed to transparency, good governance and citizen engagement in Nigeria.

The two award winners, announced Monday at a ceremony in Abuja, are:

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, a human rights advocacy organization that empowers citizens to address environmental justice issues in their communities.

Nigerian Popular Theatre Alliance/Theatre for Development Centre, a network of organizations that uses performing arts as a means to help improve the participatory development process.

Each organization will receive $500,000 to enhance the scale and impact of its work.

“These exemplary organizations demonstrate the pivotal role that citizen involvement and good governance play in securing a just, sustainable and democratic future for Nigeria and West Africa,” said Dr. Adhiambo Odaga, the representative for Ford’s West Africa office. “They are a shining example of the potential for West Africa to leverage its extraordinary human and natural resources for the common good.”

The Transparency Awards, a one-time program marking Ford’s anniversary working in the region, were launched to achieve 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.

The winning organizations were selected through an open call for nominations. The nomination process for the awards was managed by the Development Initiatives Network (DIN), a development organization working on public interest issues in Nigeria and a respected Ford Foundation grantee.

A nine-member National Awards Committee, chaired by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, worked with DIN to screen the nominations. More than 70 organizations were nominated and considered. The Ford Foundation emphasized that the National Awards Committee conducted its work independently and recommended the organizations to be named awardees. The winners will receive the grants directly from the Ford Foundation.

Other members of the awards committee are:

Dr. Bola Fajemirokun, Awards Committee Secretary and Executive Director of Development Initiatives Network (DIN)

Victoria Aiyeyemi, Founder of the Victoria Aiyeyemi International School

TY Bello, Musician, Photographer and Director of LINKACHILD

Chude Jideonwo, Creative Director for RedSTRAT/The Future Project

Honourable Justice A.G. Karibi-Whyte, Pro-Chancellor of Rivers State University of Science and Technology

Muhammad Nurudeen Lemu, Assistant General Secretary of the Islamic Education Trust

Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, Executive Director of AdvocacyNigeria

Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Verification Committee Chair and Research Professor at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

About the winning organizations:

Environmental Rights Action (ERA) operates on the tenet that “environmental rights are human rights.” Founded in 1993, ERA has two key priorities: campaigning to change governmental, nongovernmental and com¬mercial policies that are not in the best interest of local communities, and helping people access the legal system to defend their environmental human rights. ERA has been at the forefront of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), helping to underscore the need for transparency and accountability in oil revenue management to stem the effects of the “oil curse.” By protecting the environment and seeking the democratization of development, ERA is bringing transparency and accountability to bear on Nigeria’s political and economic systems. ERA is the Nigerian chapter of Friends of the Earth.

The Nigerian Popular Theatre Alliance (NPTA) has been working throughout Nigeria on good governance issues, including citizen participation and democracy monitoring, since 1999. It emphasizes that for a development project to truly benefit a community, the voices, aspirations and involvement of local people are essential. The Theatre for Development Centre (TFDC) was established as a research and training unit of the alliance in 2000. The center is affiliated with Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, which played a central role in establishing its approach as an academic field in Nigeria. NPTA is conducting Participatory Governance Training to help women’s groups, community-based organizations and local elected officials to promote and demand transparent governance in their communities and states in order to strengthen democratic practice.

The foundation’s investments in West Africa today build on a half-century of work in the region and an unwavering commitment to social change in even the toughest of times. Ford supports people and organizations that are committed to building a new culture of transparency, effectiveness and excellence across institutions and to fostering democratic participation and equal opportunity. The foundation’s grant making focuses on projects that promote democratic values and engage citizens in advocating for their social and economic rights. Ford also funds improvements in government, with a focus on openness. We believe these approaches will lead to an environment favorable to development.

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people 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. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.