Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) as the Third Party Monitor (TPM) of the Federal Government/Worldbank Supported National Social Safety Nets Projects (NASSP) has commended the federal government for its effort in addressing the high rate of poverty in the country.

The essence of the monitoring was to ascertain the effectiveness of the Poor and Vulnerable Households of the NASSP process among the beneficiaries and the knowledge of the beneficiaries on the intention of the program which is to reduce the level of poverty in the country using the Household Uplifting Program(HUP).

The Government of Nigeria realizes the urgency required to turn the tide of poverty and vulnerability in the country and has recently taken important steps to set up the foundations of a national social protection policy in support of the pro-poor agenda. A social protection coordinating platform has been set up in the Office of the President to provide oversight to all  social safety net interventions at Federal and State level and a Social Register of poor and  vulnerable households has been established at the State and National level.

As part of a social investment program, the government has increased the budget allocated to social protection  programs at the Federal level, and preliminary foundations are being laid out for the establishment  of an electronic national ID system. Despite these efforts, major challenges remain. Nigeria spends less on social protection than every other lower-middle income country and most of its regional peers. Instead its fiscal space is taken up by subsidies. The limited amount of social protection  programs that do exist suffer from low coverage, weak targeting, and is devoid of any linkages to productive opportunities for its large and growing youth population. 

CCIDESOR will continue to monitor to ensure that the intention of the federal government in the elimination of poverty is achieved especially in Anambra State of Southeast where the organization is serving as Third Party Monitor. The capacity of CCIDESOR having understood the peculiarities of the state and others has facilitated the effort of the federal government

Poverty is multi-dimensional including economic, social, political, cultural, and geographical. Nevertheless, we define it as the inability of individuals or households to access adequate income or consumption to satisfy their basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, others are water and sanitation, health care, education, and transportation. One may ask, why poverty? The fact remains that the budget has the capacity to make the society poor once it is not effectively planned nor put to use. There is an organic link between the budget and either the prosperity or poverty of the citizens.

The basic aim of development is to encourage sustained economic growth and structural change in the economy as it affects output and employment generation. Structural change in terms of composition of output, structure of employment by sectors, reduction in poverty and inequality and participation by all in the growth process is also considered.

Despite the fact that poverty is multi-dimensional, government through its fiscal policy can focus on certain sectors of the economy that have the highest potential to stimulate growth and ensure adequate linkages with the rest of the sectors. This will ensure structural changes that can positively impact on output, employment and distribution of benefits of growth.

Nigerians are less aware that the decisions the leaders make in the comfort of their offices affect their economic position. There is need for citizens to improve their economic literacy and be in a position to know when the governments are doing what the budget says and when they (Governments) are taking personal decisions at the expense of public resources.

Suffice it to say that the whole processes of budgeting in the South-eastern States like many other states of the federation is shrouded in clandestineness, thereby shutting the people out from contributing/participating in the budget processes or monitoring and this is against the principles of democracy.

Two states in the region are significant producers of crude oil and natural gas (Imo and Abia States) and as well share similarities of a petrol industry and political economy. Across a range of industrialization, the south-east has the least numbers of publicly quoted companies in Nigeria. Over all, the south-east economy is more informal and employs less graduates than other regions. Unfortunately, this region of all the intellectuals is most under-developed in all ramifications because the spate of abandoned projects is high, given that the budget too is not transparent and inaccessible.

Government without citizens’ participation is ‘private business at public expense’. Once the citizens have developed the capacity and literacy to monitor the budget, they can properly evaluate the way the elected representatives manage public resources. This evaluation will enable them to follow up projects because they have access to the budget and can understand the contents and know when a project is said to be completed.

The absence of the budget in most states, especially in the south-east has organic link with the growing poverty in the country. Except the federal government whose budget is in the public domain, one can hardly find any budget in the south eastern states, either in hard or soft copy. By the time some of the budgets are seen, the year would have gone and expenditures done with.  

Publishing the budget immediately will also help investors, local and foreign, take prompt business decisions. Unfortunately, what we have when budgets are presented is budget speech which does not give details of income and expenditure for the year.

The economic sense of completing old projects before embarking on new ones is manifold especially that when they are completed with quality, the services they are meant to provide will still be available.

Completing old projects by building them up in the 2020 budget will stop the use of more lands that could be used in agricultural purposes, since when they are completed, they will serve the purposes for which they were started in the first place. Any government that does this, would have scored a political capital goal that generation next to come will remember and make reference to, irrespective of who started the projects. The south-east region is the lowest in terms of public spending since their annual budget has been the lowest among all the six regions in Nigeria. This means that if the spate of abandoned projects continues, the region will suffer, especially more economic hardship.  

Once the old projects are completed appropriately, timely with quality, leaders will be free from the chains of shame, unnecessary anxiety and unjust actions. The essence of political leadership which is provision of security, peace, development, welfare, and happiness of the citizens would have been achieved. It attracts citizens’ confidence and admiration to leaders and a re-election during decision moments.

Completion of projects will serve as a stepping-stone to raising or getting more funds from sources: government, donors, the masses, voluntary donations, and others. The unemployment ravaging the country would have been fought. No society can be said to be thriving whose budget is not open and accessible as the old projects are not completed.

In the words of Adams Smith, no society can surely be flourishing and happy of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. Great leaders never set themselves above their followers excerpt in carrying out responsibilities. The governments should understand that they are holding the positions in trust for the citizens. The only way to return the trust is to cause the budget to address some of the scattered old projects that could have provided employment for the teeming unemployed youths.

There is need for the government of Imo State to begin to divert attention to the completion of the abandoned projects scattered over the state. There is no democratic sense in starting new projects when old ones are yet to be completed for citizen’s use. The waste of resources consumed by the abandoned projects should bother the executive, the legislature and judiciary, even the citizens. There is no playing politics with what affects the generality of citizens.

When huge sums of money are earmarked for projects and they are not completed to the benefits of citizens, the short and long term intentions are eroded. Government of the day can change the narrative of governance if they exert and expedite effort in ensuring that uncompleted projects irrespective of who the original initiator is, are completed.

 The need to make democracy work for citizens is at the moment the only solution to myriads of development problems that Nigeria faces since the return of democracy in 1999.

Democracy can work for citizens when their resources are effectively and transparently utilized to deliver the dividends of democracy. But since 1999, citizens have been lamenting over the non delivery of democracy dividends while elected representatives and appointed public officers have consistently maintained the fact that they are delivering these dividends.

At the centre of dividends of democracy is the effective and timely implementation of capital projects which help to improve the standard of living of citizens. When the completion of capital projects implementation is delayed or abandoned, then democracy dividends have either been delayed or denied. But if the qualities of projects are poor, then the citizens have been short-changed.  When government spends public funds on capital projects that don’t get finished or is abandoned, then dividend of democracy is delayed or denied.

To ascertain what causes the delay of democracy dividends to citizens, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) during her USAID project with focus on abandoned projects in the state, did mapping of abandoned project in Imo State which from 2010-2014, where about 121 capital projects were mapped. Out of the 121 capital projects, 32 were completed but not qualitatively, 51 projects were ongoing/uncompleted, while 34 projects were abandoned. 4 projects were not sighted. The projects monitored are within the core projects that could enable the improvement of citizen’s health and Knowledge – Health, education and works. were not identified nor started. Most of the projects are still not completed. The rate of capital project implementation is obviously poor and slow. In some cases they are abandoned, which is the major factor responsible for delay in delivering  of democracy dividends to citizens. 

In the last six years, Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has through its NED grant been able to support citizens’ in building their capacities and economic potentials. It also provided trainings, to  increase capacities of citizens in the South East for active participation in democratic processes and form community partnership base to engage their elected representatives. The initial project styled “Democracy Clinic” introduced to citizens economic litracy, voter education and inclussive participatory democracy.

In the second phase of the grant, citizens’ engagement with their elected representatives were put on the front burner leading to the profiling of elected represetatives  and their score cards in the South East, Nigeria. As part of the achievement of that project was the creation of Citizens Accountability Assembly (CAA), most of which are community based organisations (CBOs), in the five states of the South East Nigeria. This marked the building  of a strong partnership base and platforms for citizens direct engagement with their elected representatives.

The abondened projects monitoring was a project conceived in 2015 to monitor projects in Health, Education and rural roads infrastructure in Imo State. It covered projects awarded between 2010 and 2014. Two local governments were selected in each senatorial district for monitoring.

In the exercise, we discovered over 280 out of the 300 Rescue Mission primary schools building projects, the 30 Rescue Mission General Hospitals and 15 kilometre rural road projects most of which the government had sank in huge sums of money and resources were abandoned at various degrees of completion.

The Report of that monitoring was documented and distributed to citizens to engage their leaders. Prior to the publication of the report, community based stakeholders were engaged in meetings to validate our findings. Overwhelmed by the reports, citizens provided more information on abandoned projects that we didn’t have access to in their respective areas, some dating back to over ten years.

The implication of these, are; that vast resources of the state which were ploughed into these projects became sources of waste, abuse and corruption. Projects implemented in the states are usually intended to serve ultimate beneficial purposes to the citizens when completed and put to use.The joy of the people and faith in government increase when they are  able to realise the full benefits of the value of projects cited in their localities.

The discovery of these huge volume of abandoned projects in just a short span of four years in a single state motivated our quest to extend the drive to profile projects that have direct bearing with the socio-economic life of citizens to other four states in the South East namely; Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states.

To undertake this project, a desk research was conducted to identify primary causes of these monumental cases of abandoned projects litered all over the South East. Citizens were also interviewed. Our findings revealed some of the factors responsible for project failures as;

  • Engagement of unqualified contractors lacking capacity in their various fields,
  • Poor project conception,
  • Absence of needs assessment
  • Poor project implementation monitoring and evaluation,
  • Delayed/Under funding of projects,
  • Egocentric and ambitious projects,
  • Lack of continuity,
  • Corruption and abuse of office, and
  • Political patronage
  • Poor priortization of projects.

About 200 projects were randomly selected and monitored in the entire South East. The projects monitored were projects abandoned for a minimum of two years and maximum of ten years. We selected projects that have direct bearing with the welbeing of the citizens particularly in Health, Education , Rural Electrification, Road Infrastructure, Water and Sanitation.

For the purpose of the monitoring, projects were segregated into three categories namely; completed projects, ongoing projects and abandoned projects, To determine abandoned project some factors were also considered. The length of time work stopped and the presence of contractor on site are major signs of abandoned project. Two years were taken as reasonable time to declare a project abandoned.  Over 90 percent of these projects monitored were found to be in various stages of abandonment. In the entired South East, over 1000 projects were anticipated to have been totally abandoned. The implications of these are waste of public resources running into billions of naira, increased corruption and stagnation of growth and development. It is worthy to that note some of these projects have become havens for hoodlums, mentally deranged persons and constitute environmental danger and pollution.

When huge sums of money are earmarked for projects and they are not completed to the benefits of citizens, the short and long term intentions are eroded. Government of the day can change the narrative of governance if they exert and expedite effort in ensuring that uncompleted projects irrespective of who the original initiator is, are completed.

 The need to make democracy work for citizens is at the moment the only solution to myriads of development problems that Nigeria faces since the return of democracy in 1999. Democracy can work for citizens when their resources are effectively and transparently utilized to deliver the dividends of democracy. But since 1999, citizens have been lamenting over the non delivery of democracy dividends while elected representatives and appointed public officers have consistently maintained that they are delivering these dividends.

At the centre of dividends of democracy is the effective and timely implementation of capital projects which help to improve the standard of living of citizens. When the completion of capital projects implementation is delayed or abandoned, then democracy dividends have either been delayed or denied.

But if the qualities of projects are poor, then the citizens have been short-changed.  When government spends public funds on capital projects that don’t get finished or is abandoned, then dividend of democracy is delayed or denied.

To ascertain what causes the delay of democracy dividends to citizens, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) during her USAID project with focus on abandoned projects scattered all over the state, CCIDESOR did mapping of abandoned project in Imo State which was taken from 2010-2014, where about 121 capital projects were mapped. Out of the 121 capital projects, 32 were completed without quality, 51 projects were ongoing/uncompleted, while 34 projects were abandoned. 4 were not identified nor started.

The projects monitored are within the core projects that could enable the improvement of citizen’s health and Knowledge – Health, education and works.. Most of the projects are still not completed.

The rate of capital project completion is poor and slow. In some cases they are abandoned, this outright abandonment of most of the projects is the major factors responsible for delay in delivering democracy dividends to citizens.  The underlying factors responsible for capital project abandonment, poor execution or delayed completion cannot be appreciated without vital accountability and transparency information available to citizens.  

The reverse actions that can change the consistent delay of democracy dividend is the enthronement of the culture of accountability and participation in budget process and particularly capital projects implementation. The partnership between government, citizens and civil society is also key.  Citizens should consistently monitor budget implementation particularly projects that are being implemented in their respective communities. Again, government can help the citizens to support it to success by providing them with timely and accurate projects information to enable them monitor and report promptly.

We  have noticed one thing that makes change agents and leaders stand out in the society. It is their desire to learn and willingness to be inspired by their learning to change what appears an impossible task.

A budget is the annual statement of the expenditure and revenue of the government along with the laws and regulations that approve and support the expenditure and revenue. Put in another way, public budget is an itemized estimate of expected revenues and expenditures of the government for the year.

Poverty is multi-dimensional including economic, social, political, cultural, and geographical. Nevertheless, we define it as the inability of individuals or households to access adequate income or consumption to satisfy their basic needs such as food, clothing, water and sanitation, health care, education, and transportation. You may ask, why did I mention poverty? It is because the budget has the capacity to make the society poor once it is not effectively put to use. There is organic link between the budget and either the prosperity or poverty of the citizens.

The basic aim of development is to encourage sustained economic growth and structural change in the economy as it affects output and employment generation. Structural change in terms of composition of output, structure of employment by sectors, reduction in poverty and inequality and participation by all in the growth process is also considered.

Despite the fact that poverty is multi-dimensional, government through its fiscal policy can focus on certain sectors of the economy that have the highest potential to stimulate growth and ensure adequate linkages with the rest of the sectors. This will ensure structural changes that can positively impact on output, employment and distribution of benefits of growth.

Nigerians are less aware that the decisions the leaders make in the comfort of their offices affect their economic position. There is need for citizens to improve their economic literacy and be in a position to know when the governments are doing what the budget says and when they (Governments) are taking personal decisions at the expense of public resources.

Suffice it to say that the whole processes of budgeting in the Southeastern States like many other states of the federation is shrouded in secrecy, thereby shutting the people out from contributing/participating in the budget processes and this is against the principles of democracy.

Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo make up the southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The population of the region is estimated at 18.9 million people (National Bureau of Statistics, 2012). The region’s population is predominantly Christians, and members of the Igbo ethnic group, who make up approximately 18% of the national population are concentrated in this area.

Two states in the region are significant producers of crude oil and natural gas (Imo and Abia States) and as well share similarities of a petrol industry and political economy. Across a range of industrialization, the southeast has the least numbers of publicly quoted companies in Nigeria. Over all, the southeast economy is more informal and employs less graduates than other regions. Unfortunately, this region of all the intellectuals is most under-developed in all ramifications because the spate of abandoned projects is high, given that the budget too is not openly accessed.

Government without citizens’ participation is private business at public expense’. Once the citizens have developed the capacity and literacy to monitor the budget, they can properly evaluate the way the elected representatives manage public resources. This evaluation will enable them to follow up projects because they have access to the budget and can understand the contents and know when a project is said to be completed.

The absence of the budget in most states, especially in the southeast has organic link with the growing poverty in the country. Except the federal government whose budget is in the public domain, one can hardly find any budget in the south eastern states, either in hard or soft copy. By the time some of the budgets are seen, the year would have gone and expenditures done with.  

Publishing the budget immediately will also help investors, local and foreign, take prompt business decisions. Unfortunately, what we have when budgets are presented is budget speech which does not give details of income and expenditure for the year.

The economic sense of completing old projects before embarking on new ones is manifold especially that when they are completed with quality, the services they are meant to provide will still be available.

Completing old projects by building them up in the 2020 budget will stop the use of more lands that could be used in agricultural purposes, since when they are completed, they will serve the purposes for which they were started in the first place. Any government that does this, would have scored a political capital goal that generation next to come will remember, irrespective of who started the projects. The southeast region is the lowest in terms of public spending since their annual budget has been the lowest among all the six regions in Nigeria. This means that if the spate of abandoned projects continues, the region will suffer, especially more economic hardship.  

Once the old projects are completed with quality, leaders will be free from the chains of shame, unnecessary anxiety and unjust actions. The essence of political leadership which is provision of security, peace, development, welfare, and happiness of the citizens would have been achieved. It attracts citizens’ confidence and admiration to leaders.

Completion of projects will serve as a stepping-stone to raising or getting more funds from sources: government, donors, the masses, voluntary donations, and others. The unemployment ravaging the country would have been fought. No society can be said to be thriving whose budget is not open and accessible as the old projects are not completed.

In the words of Adams Smith, no society can surely be flourishing and happy of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. Great leaders never set themselves above their followers excerpt in carrying out responsibilities. The governments should understand that they are holding the positions in trust for the citizens. The only way to return the trust is to cause the budget to address some of the scattered old projects that could have provided employment for the teeming unemployed youths.

There is need for the government of Imo State to begin to divert attention to the completion of the abandoned projects scattered over the state. There is no democratic sense in starting new projects when old ones are yet to be completed for citizen’s use. The waste of resources consumed by the abandoned projects should bother the executive, the legislature and judiciary, even the citizens. There is no playing politics with what affects the generality of citizens.

As World Radio Day is celebrated today,  February 13, 2020, Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has charged radio stations to devote air time to discuss on governance and citizenry in line to fundamental rights  for the development of Imo State and Nigeria at large.

The Executive Director of CCIDESOR, Ogechi Ikeh noted that the radio stations need to encourage  voices and promote freedom of expression thereby keying  into national and regional discuss to entrench democratic values vis-a-vis ensuring that good governance gains root in the system.

She noted that the drive for good governance cannot be achieved by civil society organizations (CSOs) alone, hence require concerted integrated and amplified voices of individuals and other groups. 

The Executive Director hinted that the radio station should create more free slots for the discuss/enlightenment on the violation of human rights, accountability, transparency and citizens participation in governance. It is the voices that pave way to mitigating the issues.

The theme of World Radio Day 2020 is “Radio and Diversity”. Radio is a ground-breaking medium for celebrating humanity in the entirety of its diversity and constitutes humanity democratic talk. At the worldwide level, radio remains the most generally expended medium. This novel capacity to connect the most extensive crowd implies radio can shape a general public’s experience of diversity, remain as a field for all voices be represented, to speak out, and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, perspectives, and content, and reflect the diversity of crowds in their associations and activities.

CCIDESOR is keen about the celebration of World Radio Day given that for free and fair society where citizens have unhindered access to basic human needs and safe environment, the role of the Radio stations will come highly useful

As the United Nation marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science,

celebrating the theme, ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth, the Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has called for more involvement of women and girls in science to continue to expand the frontiers of scientific discovery.

Speaking to news, the Executive Director of CCIDESOR, Ogechi Ikeh noted that as the world changes the gear of discovery to solve the numerous emerging problems of mankind, there is a great need for women and girls to join the fast moving train to enable them capture the peculiarities of the female folks.

The Day focuses on the reality that science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals SDGs 2030. However, long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science related fields.

According to data from the UN Scientific Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and approximately 30% have of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. 

Globally, female students’ enrollment is particularly low in ICT (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%), and engineering, manufacturing and construction (8%). In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, parents should encourage their female wards alongside the male to embrace dynamism in the discovery world of Science and technology.

The ED also appealed to government to establish and equip ICT centres to help achieve this and close the needed gaps of development.

As the world celebrates International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has called for collective effort to ending the indiscriminate and unhealthy practice, especially that the Theme is: Unleashing Youth Power..

That is why, according to United Nations,  this year’s  International Day focuses on mobilizing youth around the eliminations of harmful practices, including female genital mutilation under the theme: “Unleashing Youth Power: One decade of accelerating actions for zero female genital mutilation.” FGM comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights, the health and the integrity of girls and women.

CCIDESOR is joining the world in condemning the act because in line with its vision of a free and fair society where citizens have unhindered access to basic human needs and safe environment, ending the unhealthy practice supports our collective vision.

It would be recalled that girls who undergo female genital mutilation face short-term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.

In 2012, the UN General Assembly designated February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, with the aim to amplify and direct the efforts on the elimination of this practice.

To promote the elimination of female genital mutilation, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights, gender equality, sexual education and attention to the needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.

Ending female genital mutilation in one decade will require support from every quarter. With significant population growth, especially among youth, investing in young people becomes indispensable if it must end 2030 in line SDG 5.

As the World Cancer Day is celebrated today, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has enjoined citizens to always go for regular check-up to combat the scourge of Cancer.

This year’s celebration organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and celebrated every year on 4 February, is an opportunity to rally the International Community to end the injustice of preventable health challenge on cancer. This year’s theme, “I can, we can” acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to address the cancer burden.

‘We can work together to reduce cancer risk factors. We can overcome barriers to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care. We can work together to improve cancer control and achieve global targets to reduce premature mortality from cancer and NCDs.

CCIDESOR however urged citizens to ensure preventive measures which include: routine exercises, watching out for the food citizens eat, smoking, excessive alchohol intake, uncondusive work environment, routine check-up, among others.

It would be recalled that as a result of Cancer, 17 people die every minute in the world, so that there is urgent need to join hands together to combat it. Indeed, I Can, We Can’