Nigerians have been urged to own and monitor government projects in their vicinities for effective service delivery.
The stakeholders made the call at a “Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA) Say No Campaign’’ review meeting via Zoom.
The Programme Manager, PAACA, James Ugochukwu said that the meeting was intended to get feedback for the month of May on what the states were doing to ensure completion of abandoned projects.
Ugochukwu said that the idea behind the conference was to also have an effective budget implementation across the states.
“This is so that each state can learn from the other and be encouraged to continue to hold government accountable.
Ms Happiness Uduak, member, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom chapter, said that her team monitored construction and furnishing of a health care centre in Oron.
Uduak said that the group also monitored the budgeted project in other to avoid it being abandoned, adding that they embarked on frequent site inspections and monitoring to ensure optimal quality of work.
“We complained on the quality of doors fixed and the following day, they were replaced, also, the refuse dump that was piling got cleaned up after our formal complaint,’’ she said.
Uduak said that the lessons learnt were that when community members show interest in projects, the contractors would hardly abandon it.
Mr Grema Kyari, member Labour and Trade Union Network Against Corruption based in Maiduguri, said his team monitored four abandoned classroom blocks at Government Secondary School, Maiduguri, a project embarked because of overcrowding in the school.
Kyari said that after several visits to the site, the group realised that the contractor was fully mobilised, so the team got SUBEB to follow up with the contractors, and they returned to continue the project.
He said that one of the difficulties the group encountered was in accessing budget at local levels, adding that most of them had no budget hence, abandoned projects became difficult to trace.
Kyari said that communities were usually unaware of projects hence they easily get abandoned.
Bako Lawan, another member of the Network, said that most state governors were fond of approving projects outside their budget thus making it difficult to trace.
Lawan said that there was the need to constantly educate communities on budget provisions and projects sited in their communities to guarantee value for money.
Mr Nasiru Ibrahim of the Network based in Kano, said that his team monitored the Yahaya Gusau road project that had been abandoned for over seven years.
Ibrahim said that the group visited the road construction site, met with traditional leaders to mobilise communities for oversight and used influencers to amplify the projects and called on the public for monitoring.
The Kano team said that contractor mistook volunteers for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, hence, they returned to sight with renewed vigor, adding that this had shown that collective effort would produce result.
Ms Agness Sessi, from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos said that her team monitored water projects to address privatisation of water in Lagos and revitalise water supply in Idu, Ikorodu and Ikeja.
Sessi said that the aim was to stop the government from passing a law that would enforce indiscriminate tax on the use of water or borehole sinking in Lagos state.
She said that the group swung into action by writing to the government to stop the passage of the bill.
She added that they organised protests to demand for improved water supply.
The community and union members who participated at the meeting said that the big lesson was the need to keep government on its toes through collective effort of monitoring projects and ensuring value for money.
“If we work in groups collectively, we will achieve a lot,’’ they agreed
The Executive Director, PAACA, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said that the organisation promised to hold the review meetings regularly so states could be on the same page in terms of monitoring projects and for accountability.
Nwagwu said that the idea was to ensure that communities were better and would benefit from projects in their vicinities. (NAN)