To further strengthen tracking of the constituency and other public projects/procurement in the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and community monitors on Tuesday agreed to work together in the state.
A Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW), had organised a one-day dialogue meeting where Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), School-based Management Committee (SBMC) and community monitors from Kaura, Soba and Chikun LGAs were brought together to identify areas of possible collaboration for effective project monitoring.
One of the key objectives of this meeting, held at a hotel in Kaduna was to create synergy between MDA’s, and community monitors as a critical way to proffering solution to the challenges raised during tracking and monitoring of public projects/procurement by the local monitors.
In a goodwill message, representative of the ICPC, Buhari Bello, said that though the Commission has limited offices and manpower across the country, civil society organisations and community leaders have been sources of strength in tracking public spending over the years.
According to him, it became necessary that the community monitors serve as a watchdog on constituency projects that were either abandoned or poorly executed.
“This is because we cannot be everywhere but with civil society organisations and community monitors reporting what they see, we will be able to do more in our efforts to ensure consistency and other public projects are not just executed but executed according to the specifications”, he said.
A community monitor from Kaura, Audu Avong commended the organisation for various engagements of community monitors which he said has helped in ensuring that projects are up to standard.
Asked if there were any abandoned projects in his community, he said, “we have an abandoned project, a building of 12 classrooms at L. E. A. Agban Model in Kagarko, Kaura LGA of the state. The project started in August 2018 and was abandoned the same year.
“The contractor resumed to the site in January 2021 but in the last two months, nothing has been happening on the site and even the ground floor has not been completed,” he added.
He noted that the community tried to contact the contractor, but was unable to reach him so they engaged the Technical Officer from the Local Government Education Authority as well as the Education Secretary saying, “The education secretary advised the School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) to write to the State University Basic Education Board (SUBEB) through her office, at the moment, the community is doing that”, he hinted.
In an interview, Programme Officer, LANW, Magdalene Ilenwabor said “already, we have successfully trained communities in our three focal local government areas of Soba, Kaura and Chikun on what they need to do to have quality projects done in their communities.
“So, today, we brought these community monitors from these three local government areas to have an interface with the officials in the MDAs through which these public projects or procurement are done in the interest of the citizens.
“They have been tracking projects and they have encountered some challenges which they will be able to ask these officials from the MDAs and hopefully get answers. All is about getting value for money and the need for all of us to be on the same page when we talk about good governance”, she said
The interactive session was part of STATNES project being carried out by LANW in three focal LGAs which are Kaura, Soba and Chikun as supported by MacArthur Foundation.