By Angela Atabo
Nigerians were urged to own and monitor government plans in their surroundings for efficient service delivery.
Stakeholders launched the call during a review meeting of the “Africa Peer Advocacy and Advancement Center (PAACA) Say No Campaign” via Zoom.
The event was organized for community members and unions across the country.
Program Manager, PAACA, James Ugochukwu said the meeting was meant to get feedback for the month of May on what states are doing to ensure the completion of abandoned projects.
Ugochukwu said the idea behind the conference was to also have efficient budget implementation across states.
“The development challenge in the country can be met locally where we are, so the essence of bringing everyone together is to keep up the pace of what we are doing.
“This is so that each state can learn from the other and be encouraged to continue to hold government to account.
“By that, people entering the civil service will know that they are being watched and that it is not business as usual,” he said.
Ms Happiness Uduak, member of the Union of Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) of Uyo University, Akwa Ibom Chapter, said her team oversaw the construction and furnishing of a health care center in Oron .
Uduak said the group was also monitoring the budgeted project in others to prevent it from being abandoned, adding that it had engaged in frequent site inspections and monitoring to ensure optimum quality of work.
“We complained about the quality of the repaired doors and the next day they were replaced. In addition, the pile of landfill was cleaned up after our official complaint, ”she said.
Uduak said the lessons learned were that when community members showed interest in projects, entrepreneurs would hardly give up.
Mr. Grema Kyari, a member of the Maiduguri-based Union and Trade Union Network Against Corruption, said his team monitored four abandoned class blocks at Maiduguri Public Secondary School, a project initiated due to overcrowding in the school.
Kyari said that after several site visits, the group realized that the entrepreneur was fully engaged, so the team asked SUBEB to follow up with the entrepreneurs, and they came back to continue the process. project.
He said one of the difficulties faced by the group was accessing the budget at the local level, adding that most of them did not have a budget, therefore abandoned projects became difficult to trace.
Kyari said communities are generally unaware of the projects and therefore are easily abandoned.
Bako Lawan, another Network member, said most state governors liked to approve projects outside their budget, making it difficult to track them down.
Lawan said there was a need to constantly educate communities on budget arrangements and projects located in their communities to ensure value for money.
Mr. Nasiru Ibrahim of the Kano-based Network, said his team has been following the Yahaya Gusau road project which had been abandoned for more than seven years.
Ibrahim said the group visited the road construction site, met with traditional leaders to mobilize communities for oversight and used influencers to scale up projects and called on the public for oversight.
Kano’s team said the entrepreneur confused the volunteers with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, therefore, they returned to sight with renewed vigor, adding that this showed that the collective effort would produce a result.
Ms Agness Sessi, from Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), Lagos, said her team is monitoring water supply projects to tackle water privatization in Lagos and revitalize water supply in Idu, Ikorodu and Ikeja.
Sessi said the aim was to prevent the government from passing a law that would impose an indiscriminate tax on the use of water or boreholes in Lagos state.
She said the group has taken action by writing to the government to prevent the bill from being passed.
She added that they had organized protests to demand an improvement in the water supply.
Community and union members who attended the meeting said the big lesson was the need to keep the government on its toes through a collective effort of project monitoring and value for money.
“If we work as a group collectively, we will achieve a lot”, they agreed.
PAACA Executive Director Ezenwa Nwagwu said the organization has promised to hold review meetings regularly so states can be on the same page in terms of project monitoring and accountability.
Nwagwu said the idea was to make sure communities were better and would benefit from projects in their surroundings. (NAA)