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.
The Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has stated that the only way the local governments can develop is to ensure that transparency and accountability are restored to the council.
Speaking when the Mobilization/Communication Officer of CCIDESOR, Chigozie Uzosike visited the Anambra State and Local Government Reform (ANSLOGOR), Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Awka South LG and other stakeholders on an advocacy visit on Promoting Local Government Democracy, Transparency and Accountability, he noted that the advocacy was with support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED). He described the provision of basic amenities at the grassroots as an effective strategy to address rural-urban migration.
Uzosike said that transparency and accountability were essential in managing public funds. He said that effective management of local government finances would help to tackle the dearth of basic amenities in rural communities. He urged the state governments to resist the issue of local government autonomy as it benefits and buys them political capital.
In his contribution, the CCIDESOR Partner in Awka who is the Vice Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Anambra State, Comrade Francis Ekponne said that there should be transparent, accountable and participatory/citizens inclusion in the local government governance. The local government should be allowed to manage their resources according to their prioritized needs. The communities’ input should be captured in the local government budgets and projects and that the project should be built based on the community-ownership structure.
In his comment, the Project Coordinator of ANSLOGOR, Mr. Orji Kingsley hinted that there is need for partnership with CCIDESOR, especially that what it is doing is similar with what CCIDESOR is doing which is making sure that there is transparency and accountability in the public finance management. He commended CCIDESOR for its efforts and said there is need for experience sharing to deliver on the project. He extolled the government of Anambra state for the enabling environment created for development to thrive.
A civil society organisation, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), has solicited greater collaboration with the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ASIEC), the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) to promote transparent and accountable administration at the council level.
The Programme Director of the
organisation, Mr Chidi Igwe who made the call during an interactive session
with the stakeholders in Umuahia, the Abia capital, said that the LG Advocacy
is with support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Igwe said that
adequate cooperation between the organisation and the stakeholders would help
to ensure proper democratic governance at the third tier of government.
He expressed the need to prioritise the national discourse on local government autonomy because of the strategic role local governments were expected to play in the development of the grassroots. He said that local government financial autonomy would help to ensure that monthly Federal Allocations to councils would be properly deployed in meeting the basic needs of the people.
In his remark, Mr Chigozie Uzosike,
the Mobilization/Communication Officer of CCIDESOR, described the provision of
basic amenities at the grassroots as an effective strategy to address
rural-urban migration. Uzosike said that transparency and accountability were
essential in managing public funds. He said that effective management of local
government finances would help to tackle the dearth of basic amenities in rural
In their responses, the stakeholders described the campaign for transparency and accountability in the local government system as a welcome development. “It is not proper for the revenue meant for the local government to be given to the state government. This will stunt development at the grassroots. “When the local government has autonomy, the problem of non-payment of salaries and absence of basic amenities will be dealt with.
The Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has said that transparency and accountability is the only key that can develop the local governments
This was part of the position of CCIDESOR when they visited ministry of Local Government Service Commission, Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers and Commissioner for Local Government. The advocacy was with support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The Executive Director of CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena described the provision of basic amenities at the grassroots as an effective strategy to address rural-urban migration. Obidi said that transparency and accountability were essential in managing public funds. He said that effective management of local government finances would help to tackle the dearth of basic amenities in rural communities.
‘There should be transparent, accountable and participatory/citizens inclusion in the local government governance. The local government should be allowed to manage their resources according to their prioritized needs. The communities’ input should be captured in the local government budgets and projects. The project should be built based on the community-ownership structure. The government should ensure the development of new policy that will spell out process of Citizens’ participation in the 2019/2020 budget process and future budget process in Southeast Nigeria’.‘The state should give the local government areas financial control over community related projects. Appropriate mechanism should be put in place to promote and enhance transparency and accountability at all levels of governance. Officials of the local government should be elected and not appointed in any manner at any point in time. The era of Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting should be returned for transparent and accountable local government governance. Democratically elected local government will see to the development of local governments’
In their responses, the stakeholders described the campaign for transparency and accountability in the local government system as a welcome development. “It is not proper for the revenue meant for the local government to be given to the state government. This will stunt development at the grassroots. “When the local government has autonomy, the problem of non-payment of salaries and absence of basic amenities will be dealt with. The stakeholders visited committed to engaging with those influencers to ensure that it is achieved, especially that the local government will only develop if they get their funds directly from the federal government without having to mainstream them through the state governments.
In a bid to ensure that there is free, fair and credible 2019 elections in Imo State and Nigeria at large, the Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has in collaboration with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Imo State embarked on door to door election sensitization and voter education campaign.
Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) as part of its civic responsibility and contribution towards a peaceful election embarked on door to door sensitization and voter education to Nkwerre, Nwangele, Ohaji/Egbema and Ehime Mbano local government areas of Imo State. The essence of the campaign was to educate voters on how to cast their votes without wasting the ballot paper, especially that it intends to reduce the incidence of void/invalid votes, buying and selling of votes.
Speaking during the sensitization, the Communication/Mobilization Officer of Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), Chigozie Uzosike urged voters to stay away from violence, thuggery and being used to perpetrate violence during and after the election. He posited that citizens should go out on the voting days and vote wisely for candidates of their choice, adding that their votes will count if they vote appropriately without wasting their votes by way of thumb printing on the logo of the party, across the line, ticking with biro, voting twice on the ballot paper or writing on the paper, among others.
In her submission, the Program Officer of CCIDESOR, Anita Udeh urged the youths to stay from away crime and do not allow anybody to coax them to vote for anybody who is not their choice. She hinted that the voters should be familiar with the logo of the party they want to vote for.
Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) in its innovative way of doing things went to the schools, markets, churches, viewing/game centers, etc for the door to door sensitization/voter education. However, CCIDESOR urges citizens to come out in their numbers to cast their votes, stressing that it is an offence to sell and allow ones votes to be bought.
As the 2019 General Elections draw near, the Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has called on politicians to make realistic and achievable campaign promises.
Speaking to Newsmen in Owerri, capital of Imo State, the Executive Director of CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena harped on the need to document campaign promises as it is a barometer to hold elected officers accountable. He berated the docility of the electorate who go to bed after the elections without following up with what the politicians promised when they were seeking for votes.
Mgbemena noted that campaign promises not consciously kept by elected representatives and citizens make it difficult for the campaign promises to be met, adding that campaign promises are not suppose to start and end with election, it is used to gauge the performance of elected representatives, relate with them to ensure they are kept and/or reviewed.
Mgbemena revealed that CCIDESOR with support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is documenting the campaign promises of candidates across party line in the five states of southeast Nigeria, while urging candidates to think about what they are promising as those will be used to hold them accountable at the long run. He noted that the documentation cuts across campaign promises written on billboards, posters, newspapers, social media, those on the Radio and Television and at various rallies.
‘The documentation of election promises help to ascertain level of sincerity of the representative, especially that it enables the electorate keep track of their expectation from the representative. Once election promises are documented, it tests if the representative has gained political capital over the years of the representation, especially when one does what one promises’, he submitted.
Hear the Executive Director, “Since it lies within the province of one to forget given the motley of events besetting one, the documentation of the election promises will remind the elected leaders to cross-check what their promises to the citizens are and how much they have fulfilled them. The representative gains from the repository/catalogue of the election promises documentation”.
Mgbemena posited that CCIDESOR has been doing a lot towards ensuring that good governance, transparency, citizens’ participation and inclusiveness have their root in the Southeast zone of Nigeria. He noted that there is no harm in making realistic, tenable and sincere campaign promises.