From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A Kaduna-based NGO, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW), is currently training selected Kaduna locals on resource mobilisation to track public projects in their communities.
The two-day training programme for project monitors in Chikun, Soba and Kaura Local Government Areas was developed to expose monitors to available resources within their communities so that they can play their role in projects execution without necessarily waiting for or depending on the government.
LANW Programme Officer Medinat Shobayo-Alabi said the training, a “Strengthening Accountability and Transparency in Nigeria’s Education Sector” (STATNES) project, started four years ago with support from the MacArthur Foundation and is aimed at exposing communities to the essentials of tracking school, health, road and environment projects in Kaduna State.
‘We are training them on the ways they can raise money within the sources in their communities. We are updating them on A-Z of resources mobilisation which is not always cash as many thought,’ Shobayo-Alabi said.
‘We are also training them on how to get loans from their savings and do other businesses that will further empower them to monitor public projects within their reach.
‘For example, if you have beans and you need maize, you can exchange your beans for maize which you can take the same to the market in exchange for money.
‘We always tell them that, for them to raise resources for their communities since the majority of these people are farmers, they can agree on contributing part of their harvest, take it to the market in exchange for money. This will enable them to have a commonwealth and use when the need arises solely for their benefit and that of their children,’ she said.
Desk Officer, School-Based Management Committee (SBMC), Kaduna SUBEB, Esther Jibji, said the training is necessary for community monitors particularly those tracking education projects to improve the ways schools operate and to support government’s responsibility of ensuring quality education for all.
‘The role of those monitoring education projects like the SBMCs include monitor of teaching and learning (not the technical aspect of it) in the schools around them. Are the teachers in schools? If they are in schools, are they teaching?
‘SBMCs are supposed to be able to do minor repairs, ensure that every child within their communities are in school and participate in school planning – needs and how these needs will be met by way of linking the schools with the community based on the identified needs of the schools.
‘Though these are volunteers who make a lot of worthy personal sacrifices just for their communities to be better of.
‘So, tracking every resource coming to their communities – whether repairs, construction or purchase, is in their best interest and that is why they should be able to own the schools so whatever that happens in these schools, their children are the ones to benefit or lose.
‘They should be able to speak out. They should write letters, seek clarifications where applicable. They should make demands for the schools so that at the end of the day, everyone wins,’ she said.
In an interview with reporters, the Village Head of Kujama, Anthony Samari, said, ‘the organisation has been sensitising us and it’s still doing that on projects monitoring in our communities.
‘The key thing that keeps coming was that we should not be overlooking government projects but to keep eyes on them to ensure the contractors do their jobs properly.
‘After the projects, we should ensure they are properly handed over to the benefiting communities. As a monitor, I need to ensure the maintenance of these projects. In case of failure on the side of the contractor, we should officially inform the appropriate authority.
‘This organisation has done a lot. Before now, we use to fold our hands and watch. But, with the continuous engagement, we have understood that these projects are being carried out by the government but they are for our use, hence, the need for us to ensure the right things are done so the purpose of these expenses will not be defeated,’ the traditional leader stated.