During his recent working visit to Nigeria, from December 07, to 12, 2009, John Cropper, the slow talking, easy going and very likeable Global Manager of the Raising Her Voice (RHV) project, was a hit for all those he came across. Starting from yours truly, my wife and children, to colleagues at Oxfam GB in Nigeria, partners and right holders that we interacted, one common and dominant view by all was; what a likeable man this is.
While in Nigeria, John participated in a number of activities undertaken as part of the of the 16-days of activism in collaboration between WRAPA (the Nigerian partner organization implementing the RHV project), RHV, Ministry for Women Affairs, UNICEF, as well provided support to me and the team of RHV staff at WRAPA.
Precisely, John participated in the following activities:
· Meeting with Oxfam GB Country Director and myself who manages the RHV project,
· Meeting with WRAPA team and briefing on RHV in Nigeria which included progress and challenges;
· Public Hearing on Violence Against Women,
· Meeting with CIDA and UNIFEM officials in Nigeria to introduce the RHV project and discuss possible support
· Live television programme on significance of international human rights day.
· Media briefing on RHV project in the last two years,
· Mock tribunal on violence against women
· Meeting with some members of the coalition of organisations supporting the implementation of RHV in Nigeria.
In the area of capacity building, John made out time to support the Nigerian team, comprising the WRAPA RHV team and myself, with capacity update on approaches to narrative and financial reporting to feed into the global report:
The visit also provided an opportunity for the RHV project Global manager and Nigerian team to agree on necessary changes to help better deliver on the project objectives in the years ahead.
On the flip side, all efforts to meet with DfID officials in Nigeria were fruitless.
As yours truly is also lead on Humanitarian in Nigeria, I dragged John to an annual reflection meeting of stakeholders on emergency response and disaster risk reduction which held at the same time during his visit.
Indeed, for John, it was all work, work and work. With very little time to play.
And talking about play, John and I chanced on a very bright cultural display by contingents of youths participating in the final of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) cultural festival at the Eagle Square, central Abuja (see pictures in the photos section). We were on our way to the Nigerian parliament for the public hearing on violence against women which was organised by the Joint Committees on Human Rights, Women Affairs, Women in Parliament of the House of Representatives of Nigeria, on the gruesome murder of Miss Esther Ushe in the northern city of Maiduguri while incidentally on national service.
John and I also took time out to see things for ourselves at the famous Mogadishu fish market, and Blake, one of the most entertaining joints in Abuja.
All through his stay, John’s most famous quote was; ‘the only stupid question is the one not asked’. So John, I hope it is alright if I ask; ‘did you leave with a better understanding and good impression of how the RHV project is being implemented in Nigeria or did we come short of expectations?’