As part of its mandate to promote and deepen good governance and effective representation across the South East of Nigeria, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has commenced the tracking and documentation of campaign promises by candidates for the 2019 elections across the zone.
This was the focus of a one-day CSOs training on documentation of campaign promises organised by CCIDESOR under the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) support fund. The event which held in Owerri, the Imo State capital was headlined by a foremost professor of Media Studies Prof. Dede Konkwo who x-rayed the evolution of electioneering in the Nigerian contemporary politics. Prof. Konkwo noted, that politicians have always reneged on their promises. He further stated, ‘the citizen has a responsibility to ensure that promises made during electioneering campaigns are kept.’ He went ahead to state guidelines through which this responsibility can be met.
Also speaking at the gathering, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, Mr Emeka Ononamadu enjoined CSOs and other interest groups to be cautious of working with half-baked information. Mr Ononamadu who averred that this is an era of fake news which he pointed out could come from unexpected sources, while he encouraged participants to do research and double-checking of facts before deployment for whatever grounds. He particularly warned against depending strictly on information extracted from the social media. Some of the participants who spoke with newsmen also shared their views on the debates and reviews at the parley.
A youth representative, Mr Chukwu Udochukwu posited that the experience was an eye-opener for him as he realised the need to document campaign promises as a barometer to hold elected officers accountable. He berated the docility of the electorate whom he described as “going to bed after the elections.”
An advocate of women’s rights and good governance, Mr Israel Promise, agreed with other participants on the need to be expository and support politicians by pointing them to their campaign promises.
The Executive Director, CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena noted that the event is first in a series of activities designed by CCIDESOR to engage stakeholders and the public in a robust and issue based electioneering process. Attendants were drawn from various states across the South East zone.
The Chairperson of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode Afolabi said that States should develop their own Charter of Demand and concentrate on identifying solutions to problems rather than dwelling so much on the problems. She noted that states should be specific on what they need as it concerns their states and not a blanket demand.
Speaking at a Two-DAY Dialogue Session on Citizens Charter of Demand and Setting Agenda for Elections in Nigeria held at Best Western Plus Hotel, Enugu State, she relayed her experiences around what TMG has done in other states to achieve results. She asserted that to bring the politicians to sign into the Charter of Demand, it needs patience and systematic planning. She said CSOs should not agonize but get organized to achieve results.
A lot of resource persons spoke, calling on the participants to not only listen to the sweet speeches of the speakers but to ensure that all they learnt will be put into use. The Engaged Citizens Pillars (ECP) of DFID partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (PERL) representatives, Mr. Otivo said that the essence of the meeting was to create workable Charter of Demands that will be used to engage and hold representatives accountable. TMG Zonal Coordinator, TMG Board Rep and NLC representative charged participants to develop strategies that will put the demands on the tables of the representatives.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Enugu State, Emeka Ononamadu who was the Special Guest at the meeting said that there is need for CSOs and stakeholders to continue to push for good governance and accountability in the country. He said once the Charter of Demand is popularized, electorate will be made to vote for the charter of demand they (politicians) have signed into and not what the politicians promise to do for the citizens. Ononamadu posited that good ideas die if they are not able to push aside bad ideas. He said what is important is bringing the politicians to buy into the charter, noting that strategies must be developed towards that direction. ‘Accountability is being responsive and responsible to the citizens and not a Book of Accounts’, he submitted. He called on the citizens to protect INEC as it is the institution through which candidates are delivered to the people, so that according to him, destroying INEC would mean destroying the road/means of governance. He urged participants/citizens to owe INEC.
However, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR, represented by the Mobilization/Media Director., Chigozie Uzosike was part of the planning/strategies to engage other stakeholders in the final draft of the citizens charter at state levels, Identifying activities that can support citizens’ and media groups participation and Cascading the charter issues to other stakeholders and promoting the spirit of charter in the zone
To nip the spate of abandoned projects in the country, especially the Southeast nigeria in the bud, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have urged the National Assembly and State Houses of Assemblies to come up with working bills seeking legislation against project abandonment in the country.
It would be recalled that Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) since 2014 during the Strengthening Advocacy for Civic Engagement, SACE project which is funded by USAID has continued to advocate for completion of projects in the country, especially in Imo State, where CCIDESOR worked. The survey gathered that across Nigeria, over 12,000 abandoned projects, capable of providing jobs for teeming youths were scattered uncompleted.
As at 2014 about 121 capital projects mapped by 129 partners across six local governments of Obowo, Ahiazu Mbaise, Isiala Mbano, Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta and Ngor Okpala spanning through the three senatorial zones of Imo State around Health and Education, out of the 121 capital projects, 32 were completed without quality, 51 projects were ongoing/uncompleted, while 34 projects were abandoned. He hinted that about 4 projects were not identified nor started as at 2014.
Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has been sustaining the advocacy and engagements to Imo State House of Assembly, Government House and relevant stakeholders towards ensuring that workable laws against the abandonment of projects are put in place. The call by EFCC has again added voice to the advocacy of CCIDESOR on spate of abandonment of projects by successive governments.
According to https://leadership.ng, the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, noted that once there is a law, it will serve as a deterrent to successive governments which abandon projects into which state funds have been invested. Magu expressed regret that Nigeria is littered with abandoned projects. The EFCC Boss noted that the commission was ready to wrestle the challenges of poorly conceived and politically motivated projects, lack of continuity in the execution of projects by successive governments and non-adherence to procurement and contractual agreements by parties.
It is unfortunate that many projects into which huge sums of the country’s scare resources had been invested are abandoned in various stages of execution with most of them rotting away and over grown with weeds. Some of the root causes of project abandonment in Nigeria are lack of well articulated visions and objectives, lack of adequate planning for the project at inception, inadequate budgetary allocation before projects are embarked upon, ineffective legal system poor, contract documentation, corruption and collusion
Indeed, if the National Assembly acts precipitously on the bill, it may come up with an additional legislation to provide for fines and sanctions against contractors and ensure that issues of contract abandonment become history in Nigeria. The amendment to the Public Procurement Act by the National Assembly will also help to a great extent in addressing issues of abandoned projects. An effective procurement process is very important because the procedure for awarding contracts hinge on the basic principles of procurement as well as tendering and selection of capable hands to execute the projects.
In line with ensuring good governance, accountability and deepening democracy in the Southeast Nigeria, CCIDESOR under National Endowment For Democracy (NED) has through its Democracy Clinic urged elected representatives to be accountability to the citizens who elected them, especially that documentation of campaign promises as the elections draws near will help in holding the leaders accountable.
Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR has been charged to heighten campaign around Open Government Partnership, OGP in Imo state towards ensuring that the state signs up.
This was the decision of the one day Southeast Citizens Constituents Interaction/Experience Sharing on OGP Process Engagement, held in Awka, Anambra state where experiences and learning from one another on the progress of the OGP processes in the different states were shared.
It was observed that Imo is the only state that is yet to sign on to OGP. The current position of Imo is that the governor is yet to apply to the OGP secretariat to sign on. It was observed that the former Chief of Staff had written the letter of intent for governors signature, but it is yet to be signed by the Governor.
Uchenna Arisiukwu from Center LSD took participants through the processes of developing the State Action Plan (SAP) and how to put same in operation.
Mr Sundayson Chidi, a staff of PERL worked the participants through an action plan for further engagement. The different states presented an action plan going forward with actual activities, lead persons and time line.
However, the Imo State Plan in going forward centered on continued advocacy to obtain the Governors signature for the letter of intent to sign on to the OGP, engage in extensive Public Awareness Campaign to highlight the need for Imo to sign on to OGP and to work to build capacity of members to be able to engage and participate actively in developing the State Action Plan.
Executive Director of CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena was at the meeting to relate the outcome to other CSOs and NGOs in Imo State.
Rising from its 2018 Annual Learning Summit (ALS), the Strengthening Advocacy for Civic Engagement, SACE project which is funded by USAID has given certificate of participation to Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR for its effort on Open Budget and Good Governance in Imo State.
The presentation of certificate was given to the Executive Director of Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena at Transcorp Hotel Abuja during their 2018 Annual Learning Summit.
It would be recalled that the SACE/USAID project started with Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR in 2014 with mapping of abandoned projects with its partners and then moved into the second phase with Open Budget, Good Governance andCitizens Participation in the budget process.
Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR has remained the only CSO in Imo State and Southeast that has continued to raise serious campaign against abandonment of projects in the state. Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR has however pledged its determination to continue its advocacy for development in line with ensuring that budget is open and that the spate of abandoned projects are stopped in Imo state and Nigeria at large.
In a bid to deepen development across the Niger Delta and to ensure that Civil Society Organizations working in the area are encouraged to do their developmental work, the Partnership Initiative for Niger Delta (PIND) has awarded CCIDESOR with high performance Laptop and Canon Still/Motion Camera.
CCIDESOR also received through its Program Officer, Anita Udeh DXO Photo Editing Software for effective story telling and Quickbooks Accounting software for easy accounts reporting. PIND under the Capable Challenge Fund project alongside CCIDESOR, also empowered about 11 other CSOs/NGOs in Niger Delta.
In her speech, the PIND Field Operative Manager, Florence Agbejune called on the CSOs/NGOs to make good use of the materials effectively. She said PIND will be visiting the organizations to know the state of the materials.
The Board, Management and Staff of CCIDESOR have thanked PIND Foundation for the donation and assured it that CCIDESOR will use the equipment effectively and contribute to the development and good governance in Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.
The Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR has set out to carry out third round of abandoned project monitoring to ascertain their level of completion.
The first level of abandoned project monitoring/mapping which was done in 2014 had about 121 capital projects mapped by 129 partners across six local governments of Obowo, Ahiazu Mbaise, Isiala Mbano, Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta and Ngor Okpala spanning through the three senatorial zones of the State around Health and Education.
The Executive Director of CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena noted that a review of number of projects identified as abandoned for an up ward of three years from 2010 to 2014, revealed that about 121 capital projects were mapped, adding that out of the 121 capital projects, 32 were completed without quality, 51 projects were ongoing/uncompleted, while 34 projects were abandoned. He hinted that about 4 projects were not identified nor started as at 2014.
He noted that the third round will ascertain the level of completion especially that the current government is coming to an end, adding that reassessment will enable the organization know which areas need more campaign for completion. He decried the level of projects sprouting up without completion and urged that the current government puts more effort in that direction.
The ailing Nigeria democracy will bounce back if the clinical solution proffered by the Civil Society Organizations is anything to go by.
Speaking the Executive Director of Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena noted that there is need to critically analyze and address the ailing democratic practice in the country, especially in the South-East with a view to making it work.
He posited the democracy clinic being championed by CCIDESOR across the southeast serves as an avenue to expose the bad democratic conditions, and put heads together to bring effective ideas for a better and healthy society.
He spoke further on the need for citizens to be interested on how the state funds are utilized, and always demand for transparency and accountability. Mgbemena stressed on the importance of economic literacy as a stepping stone towards economic growth. He also stated that the fundamental problem is that the little funds allocated to the south-east is being mismanaged by our public officers.
He stated that it is an obligation on the part of the government to protect and promote the rights of every citizen. He therefore insisted that citizens should never hesitate to voice their concerns when these conditions are not met. He encouraged all to always try to have access to the budget, so as to know what to expect from the administration.
In a bid to ensure that open budget is entrenched deeply across the southeast zone of Nigeria, the Citizens Centers for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR, is out to set up Open Budget Multi-Stakeholders Platform that will engender good governance.
This is coming from the heels of the need to partner with all stakeholders to make for statutory public policy on open budget process, procedures and participation in the states.
This platform will in a more friendly but proactive consistent manner work with all relevant stakeholders from the government, House of Assembly, CSOs, Police, Civil Defence, military, traditional institutions, Town Unions leaders, community leaders, the budget commission/ministry, media to drive the ingredient of development (budget) to the rural communities.
According to the Program Director of CCIDESOR, Barr. Chidi Igwe noted that the process of constituting membership of the platform will begin from embarking on advocacy visits to the relevant bodies, including advocacy briefs among others. This move according to the Program Director will add impetus to the already Citizens Accountability Assembly model, CAA working as a coalition around accountability, transparency and participation of budget process.
“This will ensure that there is a wholistic, all inclusive platform that will cause a societal change using the budget as ‘Game- changer’ for a better development of the southeast states and Nigeria at large”.
As the 2019 election draws near, politicians have been urged to concentrate their campaigns around issues and not personal attacks that do not lead healthy political environment.
The executive director of CCIDESOR, Obidi Mgbemena called on the politicians to be issue-based in campaigns, especially talking about issues of good governance, accountability and transparency and how they will carry citizens along in the policies.
He charged citizens to document campaign promises made around good governance components against personal and selfish promises that will not draw development to the communities.
CCIDESOR therefore charges Imo state aspirants to base their campaign around how much their emergence will ensure good governance in the state. the internationally recognized civil society organization, CCIDESOR posited that once campaign is articulated around ensuring open budget, which gives birth to accountability, transparency and citizens participation, the political space will be more issue-based competitive than what obtains, where personal attacks veer politicians off the real issues of development.