The Deputy Director leading Development Practice, Research and Policy at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Akintunde Babatunde, has departed for the United States to participate in this year’s Mandela Washington Fellowship of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Mr Babatunde, who currently coordinates CJID’s efforts to implement projects and drive research and policy work across West Africa on six projects including Natural Resources and Extractives; human development (comprising health, education, and incomes), agriculture, climate change, and conflict, security, and transitional justice, will be away for six weeks.
During his time in the US, he will be studying the Leadership in Civic Engagement track at The Presidential Precinct in Charlottesville, Virginia, a four-member consortium, consisting of two premier universities in the US; The University of Virginia and William & Mary, and two historic sites, James Madison’s Montpelier and James Monroe’s Highland.
Mr Babatunde will work to develop a focus project exploring shrinking civic space in Africa and the role of civic technology.
“I am excited about this opportunity to join young leaders from across Africa, to explore networking opportunities and learn as much as I can during the fellowship and then race back to share knowledge and add value to our country’s media and development sector,” Mr Babatunde said. “I thank the United States Government for this opportunity and my team at the CJID for allowing me a little time to retool.”
On behalf of CJID, Tobi Oluwatola, acting Executive Director at the CJID, expressed his gratitude over Mr Babatunde’s selection as a Mandela Washington fellow, saying, “CJID is grateful that one of its own has been acknowledged by such a global platform for his leadership on social issues. Our mandate is to foster sustainable development through democratic accountability and this process requires strong leaders. Akintunde exemplifies that and we could not be more proud of him.”
Since joining CJID in 2017, Akintunde has been part of many digital innovations at the organisation. Between 2018 and 2019, he was charged with the leadership of a project that examined the government’s use of infrastructural funds, juxtaposing expenditure with on-the-ground developments across communities in Nigeria. The primary objective was to hold the government accountable.
He led the deployment of data-powered civic tech platforms such as UDEME to empower citizens with the tools needed to interrogate the actions and/or inactions of their government and get involved in the governance of their regions.
With UDEME, Nigerians are able to track, and, where possible, raise red flags with respect to general service delivery in their communities.
He also led his team to develop a platform that promotes transparency and accountability in public procurement by providing citizens with curated prices of items often procured by the government and its contractors and a FAAC database that houses Nigeria’s monthly allocations to states, and other state revenue data for the past 12 years and can be used by journalists, policy analysts and government officials for journalistic, research or policy purposes.
Mr Babatunde has done extensive work on fighting fake news and has trained over 500 Nigerian journalists, media professionals and INEC officials on how to track and fact-check false claims in the media ecosystem. In 2018, his work was nominated by Africa Check for the “African Fact-checker Award of the Year 2018”.
In 2019, he was the only Nigerian selected to serve as an African ambassador on the UNESCO-supported Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL).
In June 2020, he was selected as a Champion of the ONE campaign where he, alongside other development professionals and enthusiasts from across Nigeria, was charged with a mandate to advance the great work of the One campaign in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases Nigeria specifically, and Africa at large.
Mr Babatunde has authored over 200 publications on public policy, governance, and fiscal transparency on both local and international media platforms and coordinated six fellowship programs and over 20 capacity development programs and training for over a thousand journalists, researchers, civil society practitioners, and government officials which has produced over 500 reports; 5 policy briefs published in over 30 news agencies and development platforms in West Africa. He has made presentations on climate change policy in West Africa at various institutions including the European Parliament and COP26 New York Times Climate Hub.
His broadcast commentary has appeared on BBC, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird, and NTA, among others. Akintunde holds an MA (with Distinction) in Media Practice for Development and Social Change from the University of Sussex via the UK and Commonwealth Office Chevening scholarship for Future Leaders.
The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) was founded in 2014 to help strengthen West Africa’s journalism sector to promote democratic accountability in the service of inclusive and sustainable development.