STAKEHOLDERS IN CROSS RIVER COMMITTED TO FOSTER TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE NDDC
Alone with support from the MacArthur Foundation convened a consultative forum on “Strengthening NDDC- Citizens Relationship to Promote Transparency and Effective Service Delivery in the Post Audit Era.” The forum which was held on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, brought together citizens and stakeholders in Cross River state who deliberated on how collaboration between community structure and NDDC can be enhanced such that projects implemented by NDDC reflect the yearning of the people.
Welcoming the participants, the Programmes Coordinator of Alone, Botti Isaac reechoed the theme of the forum stating that meetings like this become increasingly necessary following the recent trends around the NDDC and the need to better the lives of the people of the Niger Delta. He harped on the need for strong collaboration between the citizens and the Commission as this would help in making the work of NDDC easier. The need for citizens’ involvement and participation in the NDDC budgeting process was also emphasized to guarantee effective service delivery.
The Executive Director of We The People, Ken Henshaw spoke extensively on “NDDC- Citizen’s Relationship: Challenges and Opportunity for Collaboration, Engagement for Inclusive and Effective Service Delivery”. Giving an overview of the NDDC operations from 2001-2019, Mr Henshaw noted that the Commission has received over N3.3 trillion as budgetary allocation and about N2.4 trillion as income from statutory and non-statutory sources. Despite these huge allocations, the Niger Delta region remains underdeveloped and the people wallow in poverty and deprivation. He made reference to the forensic audit report which revealed about 13,777 projects with a compromised execution and the operation of 362 banks accounts by the Commission. This, to Comrade Henshaw, reflects a failed administration and must be put in check.
The presentation paved way for an interactive session with attendees renewing their commitments to fight against corruption in the NDDC. They agreed with the speaker and promised to share information gathered during the program and make the best use of them. It was also emphasized that NDDC projects are not gifts and the thoughts, information and resource of the forum have to be harnessed to make these engagements rewarding and for the benefit of the people.
A panel discussion with Barr. William Itorok, Mrs Effanga Henshaw, Mr Kingsley Agim and Mr Joseph Agim focused on ways CSOs, citizens and all Stakeholders in Cross River State can commit to productive engagements with NDDC and reinforce their resolve to continue the campaign against corruption in the NDDC. The panelists among other resolutions agreed on the urgency to intensify efforts towards the demand for the publication of the forensic audit report and collaborate to demand accountability on all NDDC interventions in the state. Communities in Cross River state were advises to set up a monitoring team to monitor NDDC activities in the state and develop a feedback mechanism for community participation.
The following recommendations were made:
- The NDDC should make a version of citizens’ budget to allow for cross-fertilization of information.
- There should be valid re-orientation for citizens to be interested in what happens in their communities.
- All mechanisms should be employed to engage strategically on NDDC Projects in the state
- There should be Community Need Assessment that has to fit into the NDDC budget.
- There should be a Fact sheet or Citizen’s Budget for NDDC projects in Cross River state.