From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation, Legal Awareness for Nigeria Women (LANW) with support from MacArthur Foundation, has carried out a needs assessment on 455 primary and secondary schools in Soba, Chikun and Kaura local government areas of Kaduna State within the past three years.
The organisation which has been working on a project titled, “Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in the Education Sector (STATNES)”, aimed at strengthening access to information on governance and administration of public funds for quality service delivery in Kaduna State, was also able to track 82 schools, 35 primary health centres (PHCs) and 35 rural water supply projects within the years under review.
Speaking at the sideline of the review meeting with community monitors, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) media and other partners at a hotel in Kaduna on Tuesday, Executive Director of the organisation, Barr Rebecca Sako-John, encouraged civil society actors to be active citizens in participating in governance processes.
According to her, ” today’s meeting is just like an end of a project review, looking back at what we set to achieve, what we have been able to achieve and what are the things we are taking forward following commitments from the MDAs, community monitors and our organisation.
“What are the other aspects of promoting accountability and transparency in education, health and rural water supply? I am happy we have been able to get commitment from all the stakeholders to continue with these processes even as donors withdrew their services.
“We are also happy that the MDAs also shared what they have learnt from us. So, we have just reflected on what we have been able to do in the three local governments and at the same time, looking inward, we have not done bad based on our set goals from the onset.
“The MDAe we have worked with also gave us feedback and we are happy to also tell them to extend what they have gained from us to other MDAs to do likewise so that they will have full citizens participation in governance processes”, she said.
Some of the community monitors said, their three years of training, tracking and experience sharing with MDAs as facilitated by LANW, had allowed them to understand the modus operandi of government agencies which had allowed them to track and report the public projects in their communities for action when necessary.
A community monitor from Kaura local government, Audu Avong, said “through the engagement over time, we have been getting responses from the government through letters. We are enjoying improved service delivery.
“If possible, the project should be expanded to cover an area of security because we cannot monitor without improved security. Drug abuse is a serious problem that you can also help with. If there is a way the youths can also be engaged to see how we can fight drug use and drug abuse among them, that will be great”, he recommended.
Technical Officer, Soba local government, Ibrahim Yahaya, who also participated in the review meeting confessed that “we learnt a lot of things from LANW and if we were to be having our graduation today, we would have been handed down a diploma certificate in project monitoring. We have been able to engage positively with government agencies and service providers which were not the case before”.
To Marshal Reuben from Chikun local government, “we have known our rights and we are now exercising those rights. Today, we can beat our chest that we are better than how we were when we began our engagement with LANW. We want to appreciate LANW and MacFound who has been supporting the intervention”.
The review meeting saw an award presentation to Kaduna State Public Procurement Agency (KADPPA), Planning and Budget Commission,
State SUBEB, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) and a traditional leader who was actively involved in the project monitoring with his subject.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) signed onto by Kaduna State is a step in the right direction in entrenching responsiveness, transparency and accountability if well followed which was why it became necessary that citizens play their part as active participants while government plays its part in providing the enabling environment for its success.