Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW) has trained Kaduna citizens on how to reduce corrupt tendencies in public expenditures by monitoring public projects within their communities.
LANW had organised a two-day training for community monitors on tracking and monitoring of government projects in Kaura, Soba and Chikun local government areas of Kaduna State under its Strengthening Accountability and Transparency in Nigeria’s Education Sector (STATNES) project, supported by MacArthur Foundation.
Speaking to newsmen at the venue of the training in Kaduna, Executive Director of LANW, Barr Rebecca Sako-John said, the training became necessary to strengthen constructive engagement with regards to public open data procurement especially the physical projects and services aspects of it where citizens role was germane.
She said, “this retraining is very important because part of the project objectives was to strengthen constructive engagement between civil society or citizens and government to promote transparency and accountability in the use of Universal Basic Education (UBE) funds managed by SUBEB in Kaduna State.
“We want to see more transparency and accountable government in Kaduna State. We want to see more citizen engagements. The whole essence of the training and retraining of citizens on track is to reduce corruption because corruption has hindered sustainable development in Nigeria and Kaduna State in particular.
“We should remember that projects are a by-product of procurement where billions have been lost in the process because there was no level playing ground in the process. Some of the contractors use substandard materials which affect the structure and services provided.
“We are not out to look for people to be punished or blacklisted we only want quality projects and services that will be provided. The citizens have the responsibilities to engage government and to track service delivery to ensure quality”, she said.
Speaking on the management of citizens’ complaint on the public projects in Kaduna State, Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Planning and Budget Commission, Jummai Bako explained that verified complaints are sent to the office of the state governor for action.
“Once we receive any complaint, we download and verify the authenticity of the report and once that is confirmed, we then write our report and send to the Governor who will then direct the responsible MDAs to act immediately.
“Citizens can further reach us via “eyes and ears” apps or call our toll free line on 08081235444 when they see something unusual in any of ongoing projects across the length and breadth of our State.
“This meeting with citizens is very commendable. It will not only influence the planning but will help the citizens to get value for their money and quality service delivery”, she said.
A participant at the training from Sabo community, Chikun local government, Waje Reuben Marshal, from Sabo, Chikun LGA, expressed his determination to track government projects especially SUBEB’s projects in Sabo.
“I’m taking a lot back home. When we were asked about our role as citizens in project monitoring the first day of this training, nobody could answer that question. But after two days of this training, we then realised hat we cheat ourselves when we refuse to monitor government expenditure in the form of projects in our communities.
“When we monitor and the implementers know we are watching, more quality jobs will be done in the interest of all of us because the government uses taxes we pay to do this work. I will step down this training in my community so we monitor better. The more we are, the merrier in this case”, he said.
Another trainee from Kuselo community, Soba local government, Habiba Lawal said, “we don’t have enough health workers in my PHC. So, we need to begin to ask questions and demand for an answer on what is hindering the government to send nurses and midwives to the facility so we can save more lives.
“We also need to keep our eyes on school projects and other projects being executed by the government whether state or federal. This we have not been doing because we don’t know. Now we know better and we will track better”, she promised.