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’
As citizens of Imo state decry the verdict of the Supreme Court on the 2019 governorship election, Citizens Centre For Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has joined its voice to condemn the miscarriage of justice done to Imo citizens.
In a release issued to newsmen in Owerri, Imo State capital, the Executive Director of CCIDESOR, Ogechi Ikeh noted that although the supreme court is yet to release details of how they came about their judgement of 14th January, 2020 on the case between Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of PDP and Senator Hope Uzodinma of APC, adding however that the facts in the public domain show that they are unlikely to convince majority of Nigerians that such judgement satisfies the basic qualities of Justice and good conscience.
“It is a grave omen that the supreme court’s judgement has made over 6 million Imo state citizens and residents to commence year 2020 with unimaginable and undeserving turbulence”.
“Although Supreme court is the final court, it is only a final court of Justice not injustice. Therefore, in releasing the details of their judgement, if they agree with the mathematical disagreement between total accredited voters and the supreme court’s new total votes cast, CCIDESOR joins Nigerians in calling for the review of that judgement. CCIDESOR also calls on the supreme court to keep pride away, put the nation first and ensure that justice is done by correcting any miscarriage of justice observed. After all, they are not infallible. We need the supreme court to retain the trust and hope of citizens in its ability to dispense justice no matter the circumstance. If the trust and hope of citizens on justice from supreme court are shattered, Nigeria will take a long time to recover if she will ever recover”.
“The recent notorious trend of courts disregarding or not thoroughly verifying the position, submissions and testimonies of INEC in an INEC conducted election, before taking decision, in some relying on technicalities is also another sad sour point of our democracy and election process. It is gravely ignominious that the unprecedented election fraud in Imo west and Imo East senatorial election were endorsed by court judgements even when INEC made valid explanations on why it was infamous to reward election fraud with certificate of return. CCIDESOR insists that it is the constitutional rights of citizens to elect their leaders and not the supreme court. The role of judiciary is not to substitute citizen’s choice with their own choice. This new dimension will totally destroy our dear nation, Nigeria. While CCIDESOR calls for total review of the judgement of supreme court, It has become expedient that the judiciary should apply restrain from this ugly trend”.
“No matter what post judgement decision that will be taken by supreme court, its integrity will be saved if they expose as a matter of justice responsibility, every detail of the 388 polling units from where the figures used to upturn the election result came. Silence on any critical issue raised on the judgement will do more harm than good to the trust Nigerians are expected to have on the supreme court”.
“CCIDESOR notes that Supreme Court would have completely endangered the fundamental human rights of the citizens to freely come out to cast their votes if adequate explanation of the judgement is not received. CCIDESOR is worried that the political apathy which INEC addressed during the last election has been destroyed by this judgement. CCIDESOR submit that until INEC becomes the final arbiter in election and not the court our democracy will continue to suffer. If by mistake, the supreme court sentences our democracy to death, Nigerians should get the supreme court to reverse itself than to take our innocent democracy to the gallows”.
“CCIDESOR notes that the reckless behaviour of Imo politicians and the ugly foundation which they led during the party primaries paved way for most of the subsequent election atrocities committed during the general election in Imo state. Again, when one looks through the prism of cross-carpeting and counter cross carpeting in the last primary election one wonders the society the politicians are building. Where lies our collective resolve of building our democracy?
“CCIDESOR also calls on the NGOs, CSOs, FBOs, Media and relevant stakeholders to open wider their watchdog aperture on Imo State, especially during the re-run election taking place in Imo State on the 25th January, 2020 in some polling units. While we are concerned by the Supreme Court judgement, as law abiding Civil Society Organization, we are ready to pledge our watchdog role in ensuring accountability, transparency and citizens’ participation in the governance of our dear Imo State. There is need to push forward the tenets of democracy. We also call on all NGOs to pay special attention to Imo State”.
“Imo is our dear state because we have no other state. We must put our ideas together to further the ideals of governance. CCIDESOR is a non partisan organization but takes its position from the philosophy which states that injustice meted out to any citizen is injustice meted to all”.
Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success. As we set New our goals for the year, we look forward to our strengthened partnership with you in reaching our mutual objectives.
You have made our working relationship both effective and productive. We wish you a very robust year as we all continue to ensure accountability, transparency and inclusiveness in the democratic governance of our society.
To our team, you brought such value and for much of our successes your credit is due.
As we come into this new beginning of another decade year 2020, We want to see a free and fair society where citizens have unhindered access to basic human needs and safe environment.
Our doors are open as always for partnership and projects that will empower, support and facilitate better living conditions, social progress and fundamental freedom
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The Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), as Third-Party Monitor (TPM) on the Conditional Cash Transfer program of NASSP/Worldbank, has embarked on familiarization visits of six local government areas of Awka North, Ayamelum, Anambra West, Ihiala, Orumba South and Dunukofia to understand the environment and those she will work with for smooth running of the program to achieve effectiveness and efficiency of monitoring.
During the familiarization visits, the Desk Officers (DOs), SOCU, SCTU, Community Technical Facilitators, communities and wards were visited. We witnessed the capturing of some beneficiaries of the Top-Up/Co-Responsibility scheme of the project. The familiarization visits were successful in some areas, while in some, given that some beneficiaries were not around as at the time of the visitation much was not achieved. The CTFs were friendly and showed willingness to assist in the process having been briefed on the role of the TPM, being partners in the process and progress of the project.
The visitation afforded the Team Lead, Igwe Chidi, LGA Technical Facilitators (Chigozie Uzosike, Jude Ebube, Anita Udeh and M&E, Nnaemeka Onyejiuwa) the Data Assistant the opportunity to interact and know the location of some wards/communities and met some beneficiaries and elicited their feelings about the NASSP. In the course of the familiarization visits, we were privy to the existence of Cooperative Society being entered into by the beneficiaries to enable them save more money to grow whatever business they have chosen for themselves.
In a bid to ensure the effectiveness of the Conditional Cash Transfer of Federal Government- World Bank Supported National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP) targeted at the Poor and Vulnerable Households (PVHHs) in Nigeria, the Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) as Third-Party Monitor went out to monitor the effectiveness of the program.
CCIDESOR who is the Third-Party Monitor (TPM) has taken the cycle monitoring to the six local government areas in Awka North, Ayamelum, Dunukofia, Orumba South, Anambra West and Ihiala of Anambra State where it conducted focus group discussion and administered ODK directly to the beneficiaries to ascertain their level of awareness, perception and satisfaction around the program.
To ensure comprehensive monitoring, Chidi Igwe (Team Lead) went to Dunukofia for the monitoring, Chigozie Uzosike (LGA Technical Facilitator) monitored Orumba South, Nnaemeka Onyejiuwa (Monitoring and Evaluation, M&E) and Jude Ebube (LGA Technical Facilitator), moved to Anambra West and Ayamelum, Anita Udeh (LGA Technical Facilitator) monitored in Awka North while all the Team went to Ihiala LGA
The National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP) was conceived as part of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s (FGN) larger growth inclusivity and social inclusion policy aimed at addressing key social challenges facing the country. One of these challenges is poverty. Based on 2012/2013 estimates, poverty stood at an elevated level of 33.1 per cent of the population. This translates to around 58 million Nigerians living in poverty. Many Nigerians are also found to be clustering around the poverty line because of their engagement in vulnerable jobs that make them susceptible to shocks that could make them fall back into poverty.
The National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP) is a pioneer FGN social safety nets programme which is supported by the World Bank that aims to provide financial support to targeted poor and vulnerable Nigerian households through the National Social Safety Nets System.
All is set for the Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) to monitor the federal government conditional cash transfer under the National Social Safety Project.
CCIDESOR who happens to be among the first eleven organizations shortlisted will monitor the project/program as Third-Party Monitor (TPM) and it will monitor the cash transfer in Anambra state which happen to be the only state in the southeast that benefited from the program.
The essence of the program is to lift the Poor and Vulnerable Households (PVHHs) out of poverty under the Household Uplifting Poverty (HUP).
In the course of the program, the poorest of the poor, will be lifted out of poverty as each targeted household will be paid 5000 every month which will be paid in two months, that is 10,000.
Information available to CCIDESOR says about 8323 households beneficiaries are in the scheme in Anambra. The process of mapping beneficiaries for the project ranges from geographical targeting, pre-sensitization, sensitization, mobilization and engagement and proxy means test. After that the names will be mined and put in the social register. It is a community based project
CCIDESOR was at Awka North to test run the effectiveness of the monitoring tools. The organization will monitor six local government areas across three zones in the state and they are: Awka North, Ayamelum, Orumba South, Anambra west, Ihiala and Dunukofia.
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, 129 capital projects were selected and mapped in six Local Governments of Oguta, Ohaji Egbema, Ngor Okpala, Obowo and Isiala Mbano. These are projects that started between 2010 and 2014. They include projects that started earlier but work resumed again within this period covered. The projects monitored are within the core projects that could enable the improvement of citizen’s health and Knowledge – Health, education and works. Out of the 121 projects selected, only 32 were completed in 5 years being 26.4%.
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 people.
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.
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 projects were not identified nor started. Most of the projects are still not completed.
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 people would have been achieved. It attracts people’s 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. The need for state government to open up their system, especially Imo State by signing into the Open Government Partnership (OGP) becomes the joker for more development institutions to come into the state and invest through the prism of OGP/Good Governance, upon which the three tripod of Accountability, Transparency and Participation it stands.
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 people. 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.
CCIDESOR COMMENDS FUNDERS, CSOS AND PARTNERS FOR DEEPENING PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH ABANDONED PROJECTS TRACKING.
During the celebration of nine years of introducing abandoned projects tracking strategy in the lexicon of accountability advocacy strategies in Nigeria, the Board, Management and Staff of Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) wish to commend partner CSO organization, networks and coalition for replicating and expanding the frontiers of public accountability through Abandoned Project tracking in Southeast and entire country. Abandoned projects tracking is an idea which CCIDESOR muted in 2011 but got a major support from USIAD’s SACE (Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement) landmark project to scale it up leading to the huge achievements and the first publication of the outcome of over 300 abandoned projects monitored in Imo state in 2014/2015.
As CCIDESOR expanded the frontiers of abandoned projects monitoring and tracking, we trained additional 60 CSO representatives and partners across the entire southeast. The published outcome was titled “What delays Democracy Dividends in Nigeria”. After the completion of the abandoned projects monitoring across the entire southeastern region, CCIDESOR also published “Abandoned Projects: Factors of Delayed Development in Southeast Nigeria”. These series of publications serve as a formal documentation and tends to contribute to the emerging database of abandoned projects in Nigeria, which unsettles those (government, politicians and contractors) to want to complete them. The replication of this public accountability strategy in the five states of southeast Nigeria made Abandon Projects Tracking the major tool for public Accountability and public sector corruption reduction in line with the anti-corruption mantra of the current administration. During the same period of extension in the entire southeast, CCIDESOR trained over another ninety CSO members and partners on the act of abandoned project monitoring without getting entangled in the bad waters of politics and politicization of its outcomes.
The strategy adopted by CCIDESOR was to train residents and supervising partners who in turn confirm the status of the projects that are domiciled in their locality. With the information, CCIDESOR approaches the bodies responsible for such projects to demand explanations why the projects are abandoned. In doing this civic task, many abandoned projects got hurriedly completed while our office was burgled with vital equipment stolen and staff threatened and attacked, which could simply be described as the sacrifice for creating a better society. Since the introduction and publicity of abandoned projects tracking strategy, it is heartwarming to celebrate those CCIDESOR Partners and CSOs that have not only replicated the idea successfully (though without acknowledgment from few) but sold the strategy to their Local and International partners for further civic engagement of public officers, politicians and elected representatives. CCIDESOR’s board, management and staff are happy the abandoned project tracking idea is fast gaining more acceptability among CSO and development practitioners.
CCIDESOR has since been working to also enable other creative ideas like “Elected Representatives Performance Assessment Scorecard”, “School to skill” and “Community Social engagement strategy” to become popular and effective. CCIDESOR however called on CSOs using the same public accountability strategy to always related with each other and compare notes for more effectiveness and uniformity of purpose noting that the deeper the understanding and mastery of the strategies the cheaper and eerier to implement it becomes. CCIDESOR also used the occasion to commend USIAD, PIND and all SACE project staff for supporting the idea to gain acceptability in Nigeria. It has reduced the spat of abandoned projects drastically in Nigeria. CCIDESOR is using the same opportunity to call on other organizations to adopt the strategy as it is easy, cheap and impactful. Our target is that by collective effort abandoned projects will be history before 2023 political year.