From the 17th to the 19th of November 2020, young changemakers gathered at Ayalla hotels in Abuja to embark on the SDG 16 Innovation Challenge. Seventeen participants were selected for their unique and sustainable solutions to issues concerning the Sustainable Development Goals; more importantly Access to Justice and Strong Institutions.
The SDG 16 Innovation challenge is an initiative of Accountability Lab Nigeria supported by the National Endowment for Democracy. Within the campaign, these young changemakers are trained on the fundamentals of Social development programmes by experts in the sector. Within a period of just 3 years, the initiative already boasts of excelling past beneficiaries like Funke Adeoye, the director of Hope Behind Bars Africa and Osaze Efe, the pioneer of the Abuja International Photo festival among others.
Accountability Lab Nigeria country director, Odeh Friday, took the reins in training participants on innovation and theory of change, trying to ensure they consider the sustainability of their ideas during development. A prominent theme of the challenge was ensuring that there was equal representation among participants; as well as consideration for people with disabilities. “Most times in our society there is lack of equal opportunities for women; these are some of the issues we are trying to flip. We are incorporating that into the SDG 16 Innovation challenge as well.” Other facilitators at the event include Programmes Associate Mnenga Shiiwua, Communications strategist Prince Chimaroke, Tony Onazi of the Network of Pro Bono Lawyers as well as Tagwai Zigwai of Aspilos Foundation.
The event came to an exciting conclusion with the pitching presentations of participants to determine the winners of the competition. The young changemakers pitched their unique innovations to an independent judging panel comprising Odeh Friday, Osaze Efe, Tony Onazi, Tagwai Zigwai and Obinna Ejiogu. Ideas were wide and peculiar, ranging from political education to women in the North East by collaborating with Islamic leaders, to ensuring ease of access to people with disabilities in state buildings. Lines of collaboration began to open between participants as they exchanged ideas.
After a series of thoughtful pitches, Anne Obode emerged winner of the SDG 16 innovation challenge in Abuja for her secureme.ng initiative to aid policing in Nigeria, which featured the use of technology to tackle an issue of utmost importance. It was down to a tie breaker for second place as Deborah Dooshima slightly inched out Oluwatomisin Onigbemisoye for the spot with her innovation to end #SexForGrades and harassment in schools. The SDG 16 innovation challenge will continue in different states across the nation – Kaduna, Lagos and Edo states precisely, entertaining ideas for the strengthening of public institutions and provision of justice to the people of Nigeria.