SOCIAL ACTION VISITS THE GUBER CANDIDATE OF ACTION DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Social Action with partner organisations paid an advocacy visit to the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party at the party secretariat in Port Harcourt. The visit which took place on the 12thof January 2019, was one in a series aimed at meeting with stakeholder of the main political parties and traditional rulers in the state to discuss matters critical to the enshrinement of good governance and accountability using the 2019 general elections as a fulcrum to driving the campaign.
Figure 1From Left to right- Green Isaac, Peter Mazzi, Victor Fibresima, Achonwa Okogba, Sebastian Kpalap
At the secretariat, the team met with the gubernatorial candidate of the party Mr. Victor Fingesi, a party chieftain, Achonwa Okogba and some party faithfuls.
Mr. Fingesi, while speaking on his vision for the state and why he wanted to contest for the position of the governor said he wanted a peaceful and credible election and would do all it takes on his part to achieve it.
The Social Action Team Lead by Peter Mazzi intimated the gubernatorial candidate and the party members of the purpose of the visit which was to ascertain the philosophy of the party as it has to do with good governance through transparency and accountability in the operation of public finance and also citizens participation in the process. He stated further that corruption is one of the reasons the people of the Niger Delta have continued to live in the current state of underdevelopment and affirmed that the interest of Social Action is on the citizens and their ability to make informed decision based on the right information available to them, especially during the general elections.
While responding, Mr. Fingesi said he intends to put the right people and mechanism in place to check corrupt practices and enshrine good and responsive governance if voted into office.
He said the party’s constitution supports a robust representation of women and the youth in governance and promise to ensure that his cabinet is reflective of the objectives of the party if voted to office. He also planned to create jobs by supporting and developing other sectors, order than the oil sector, like agriculture and tourism to boost the GDP of the state.
Top amount the party’s point agenda according to Mr. Fingesi are
- empowerment of Rivers people,
- reduction of poverty,
- provision of standard and qualitative education and
- food sufficiency through agricultural programmes
The Social Action Team which also include Sebastian Kpalap and Green Isaac, charged the party to play by the rules of the election, encourage her supporters to eschew violence and vote-buying and make their campaign issue-based.
ANTICORRUPTION TEAM PAYS ADVOCACY VISIT TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS UMEJURU
As part of the campaign by the Anticorruption Network to galvanize support of the citizen for a conscious and concerted effort toward opposing corruption and demanding accountability from their elected representatives, the Anticorruption Network (AcoNET) paid an advocacy visit to His Royal Highness Eze (Amb) Eche A.Umejuru, Eze Okwu Onu Ka Oha 1 of Idu Ogba.
Figure 1His Royal Highness Umejuru and the Anticorruption Team
According to Green Isaac who lead the team, the Network scheduled the visit to the royal father because if the recognition of the influence of traditional rulers over their subjects and the importance of the traditional institution in shaping views, perceptions and actions.
According to Green, the bane of development in the communities is opacity in the financial transaction of public accounts. Developmental projects meant for the communities often end up in private coffers and so while a few persons seem to be benefiting from such contracts, the majority of people suffer. The results are substandard products or service delivery or even abandoned projects.
While responding, His Royal Highness thanked the team for the courage to come out to speak boldly about corruption when many would either want to benefit from it or at best ignore it. He agreed that a lot of project have been initiated in the past, which either did not see the light of the day or never got completed. He said the people of Idu Ogba are peaceful and law abiding and would vote at the general elections based on the manifestos of the parties
He encouraged the team not to relent in their campaign and promised to help in any way to encourage the campaign. He also promised to carry the message to his subjects, especially the youth.
As part of her Social Action Anticorruption Campaign, Social Action anticorruption network partners featured in a sponsored programme to sensitize the citizens on the dangers of corruption and the part it has played it to ensure the people of the Niger Delta remain in perpetual underdevelopment. The radio programme was aired on Wave FM 91.7 Port from 10 to 10.30 on Friday 25th January 2019.
Issues discussed were the General Elections as a driver for good governance. Citizens were encouraged to begin to interrogate the political actors during the campaigns to know their plans for the citizens on their different areas of interest so they could follow up on their commitments when/if elected. They were charged to monitor the political rallies and note the commitments made by the candidates.
The programme also included audience call-in, where questions were asked and contribution made on the topic by listeners. Callers wanted to know how to engage government officials who have made commitments in the past and renege on them. And what assurance there is that commitments made would be kept and if not, what could the citizens do.
In response to these questions, the network team explained that government officials continue to take the people for granted because the people have been docile each time it happened. They gave Instances where the citizens came out en masse to demonstrate their opposition for certain unfavourable government policies and the government in power had to be forced to reverse them. They insisted that power belongs to the people and the people must exercise it peacefully but firmly.
The resources persons were Peter Mazzi, Sebastian Kpalap, and Green Isaac on behalf of Social Action Anticorruption Network
The recent statement made the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola that “those who complain we [Federal Government] borrow too much should tell us where else to find funds” is not only unfortunate but alsoa glaring admission of cluelessness.
The evil of corruption and its corrosive effects to the development and wellbeing of Nigerians was ones again highlighted in two town hall meetings organised by Social Action in Port Harcourt, Uyo and Yenagoa on the 5th, 12th and 24th of October 2018 respectively. Participants drawn from different civil society and community-based groups agreed that the problem faced by the peoples of the Niger Delta is not that of lack of resources but of the mismanagement of the wealth that has accrued to the region over the years.
Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) has been leading advocacy, amongst other thematic areas, on open and inclusive governance with a vision to entrench a regime of transparent and accountable governance and a citizen-centred public budgeting system. For about a decade now Social Action has been working with like-minded partner organisations in the Niger Delta to bring this vision to reality.
In 2018, Social Action, working with other citizens groups and development partners through the Open Budget Cluster in the Niger Delta has achieved significant improvements in open budgets at the sub-national levels of government. Between April and September 2018, significant events included the Niger Delta Open Budget Co-Learning Summit in Asaba, direct engagement of budgeting and planning officials of states, and processes to enhance participation of community groups were part of a conscious effort to institutionalize an open budget system in the states and local government areas in the Niger Delta.
Abandoned Projects: Citizens’ Report on Budgets of Selected States in Nigeria, 2017 is the documentation of analyses and findings from the monitoring of the implementation of the 2017 annual budgets of six selected states of Nigeria, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Nasarawa.
The report shows a continuing pattern of underwhelming spending on the social sector in 2017, even as budgeting in the states remained poor. Projects executed in previous years continued to appear in budgets as new projects while several projects that gulped large budgetary funds over the years were either roundly abandoned or never got off the ground. Budget lines continued to be vague, ill-described or ambiguously defined in budget documents hindering accountability and good governance much to the detriment of the people whose lives the projects would have impacted positively.
As an output from Social Action’s anti-corruption efforts at the sub-national level of government in Nigeria during the year 2017, the findings of budget analyses and monitoring is a tool for further public advocacy by citizens and civil society organisations at the grassroots level.
Recently, the Kogi state government made a public admission and disclosure that it has defaulted in paying its workers’ salaries due to huge loan servicing by the State. The State’s Director-General, Media and publicity stated in the report that “. . .the loans were taken by the two previous administrations for projects that did not add value to the state. Sometimes, we repay between N400m and N500m monthly as loans that add no value to the state. These loans were taken by the last two administrations and some of them were invested on projects that were never completed”.
As part of ongoing anti-corruption work at the sub-national levels of government, Social Action organised State Level Sensitization Workshops in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria during the first quarter of 2018. The workshops aimed to enhance the capacity of CSOs to understand the budget and to use it as a tool to engage the government on accountability and good governance. Representatives of citizens groups participated in the workshops in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Rivers States. Over thirty participants in each of the States received training on budget processes and participation, and strategies for achieving budget democracy and accountability.