Posted by News Express | 12 January 2020 | 1,054 times
The Abia State Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the platform of OPEN Government Partnership (OGP) has set up committees across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State to monitor and document the failed Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) projects in the state.
The committees were set up during the meeting of the CSOs organised by Co-Chair, CSOs/Non-State Actors of Abia State Open Government Partnership, Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, who is also the Executive Director of Environmental Rights Group, Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD), in Umuahia, Abia State.
In his opening remarks, Nwafor decried the very poor state of infrastructural development suffered by the State over the years and wondered why some of the indigenous NDDC contractors who were saddled with the responsibility of handling the works, now described as abandoned projects, could do such disservice to their home State, Abia.
He stressed that the most worrisome aspect of this investigation is that a lot of the failed or abandoned projects were awarded to indigenous contractors.
Comrade Nwafor urged the CSOs members of the Open Government Partnership to revisit the documents released by the NDDC on the failed project identify the projects closer to the locality/community and conduct Assessment Report which will be harmonised and used to engage both the Committee of Abia State Government on the Failed NDDC Project, the Presidential Committee on the Failed and Abandoned NDDC Project and the National Assembly committees.
He expressed confidence that the steps taken by the CSOs will unearth the massive fraud in the NDDC project which has undermined development in the Niger Delta region and promised to support the CSOs through engagement of development partners.
In her speech, the Executive Director of Initiative for Care and Support to the less privileged (ICASULP), Ms Priscilla Ogbonna, commented on one of the projects which is the remedial work on sections of 5km World Bank Housing Internal Roads Umuahia township, awarded to a contractor, A. T. Services Ltd, on November 29, 2016 to the tune of N706.5million.
She said work on the project was relatively okay but noted that the adjoining roads to this very works can only be described as a sham.
She however expressed the hope that in their bid to conduct an independent monitoring of these failed projects, it is rather key to state and table down specific terms of reference for CSOs to monitor and document the Failed projects.
A member of Abia State Open Government Partnership Steering Committee and Executive Director of Rural Alert, Mr. Orji Idika, regretted the fate suffered by the people old Bende, bearing in mind the humongous amount earmarked for projects in this area.
To this end, he suggested the expansion of the horizon in terms of information gathering and analysis in relation to these NDDC abandoned projects as well as others, so as to pragmatically hold the entire system to account.
Comrade Damien Ogudike of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) and Southeast Human Defenders & Pro-Democracy Group who attended the meeting from Uturu, Isuikwuato Local Government Area of the State was formally welcomed to the forum. He told the gathering that he started his journey in this field since 2002 with the CLO in Anambra State and had decided to come back to Abia in order to add his wealth of experience.
He suggested further that a separate independent monitoring committee be set up by the Non-state actors for the purpose of monitoring these failed NDDC projects instead of depending on the government for the same report.
He affirmed the need to obtain a covering letter from Abia State Open Government Partnership for CSOs who will be deployed across the LGAs to monitor and document this report.
Pastor Nwokocha Anozie Innocent, Executive Director, Initiative For Ideal Development and Emancipatory Leadership in Nigeria (Ideal-Nigeria) made it clear that it is time for CSOs actors in the State to show leadership and strong will in carrying this sacred duty which is likened to evangelism.
He maintained that it will remain a disservice to the entire society if men and women with ulterior motives other than service to humanity occupy spaces within the civic domain, hence the need for CSOs to go proactive.
According to him, it is the duty of the CSOs to dig up these facts, as is the case with the failed NDDC projects and use the findings to engage all relevant stakeholders to ensure it addresses the anomaly experienced in the award and implementation of these contracts and bring the erring contractors to book.
The meeting also resolved that a special volunteers committee of CSOs be set up to visit each of the communities where this failed projects are located, that the CSOs should also monitor the constituency project as captured in the Federal Budget of 2019, which the Budget pull out will be made available and come up with shadow reports to engage the Legislature, and that members of these Committees are to have their scope of work cover the 17 LGAs of the State as captured in the released forensic report of the NDDC failed projects and constituency projects.
It was also agreed that the shadow report shall be made available in the first progress report by January 2020 and be used for engagement, and that a letter be drafted by the Co-Chair Non-state actors stating the scope of assignment directing same to the Co-Chair state actors.
They also resolved that the report should have such indications as a sign post or landmark evidence of the community, the project proper with pictorial evidence accompanying it and also that CSOs should discharge their duties with fairness and holistic sense of commitment, show resistance to mediocrity in projects monitoring.
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