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.