By Contance Meju
Niger Deltans have been advised to re-examine their attitude to development projects in their communities to be able to change the narrative of abandoned and non-executed projects that dot the zone which deny the people the benefits they would have derived from government.
A seasoned contractor who has worked in varied sections of the country Mr. Emeka Umeanor gave the advice while making a presentation on Community Response to NDDC and Government Projects in Port Harcourt.
He was speaking at a one day training programme organized by Mac-Jim Consortium with funding support from Cordaid on Strengthening Community Groups for Beneficiary led Project verification (focus on NDDC Projects as pilots) at Aldgate Hotel, Abacha Rd, Pot Harcourt.
According to him, while government project beneficiaries in the North, West and South East welcome government project contractors and offer support, Niger Deltans make it difficult for contractors to implement projects a situation he said has led to some projects meant for the zone being executed on paper as the area is considered hostile.
“It is time to talk to ourselves as communities as it is impossible to do any project successfully here. Our response to projects in the Niger Delta leaves a lot to be desired. Most NDDC monies were spent long ago. Try to get involved. Find out what is accrued to your community in the state/federal government budgets, follow-up.
“We have to do a conscious involvement in community based projects; you are the real beneficiaries of projects and not government or contractors. You need to improve the relationship between communities/government and contractors.
“Set up community liaison committees in your communities to monitor projects and you need an effective programme planning and execution system. There should be project reporting to be done by the liaison committee every month to government as a check on the contractor”, he suggested.
Mr. Emeka Umeanor said projects are designed by government for social and economic development but because of some errors in governance in the country, desired goals are often not met as projects are abandoned, poorly executed, not done at all or done and non-functional.
He named some of the flaws from government as lack of sensitivity to the needs of the people, putting selfish interest first by politicians and top government functionaries, non-inclusion of beneficiaries in the planning and sophisticated project management processes.
Explaining the objective of the programme, leader of the consortium, Mr. Jim Dorgu said the programme a follow-up on an earlier town hall meeting, has as main goal, the attainment of active participation of community members in development projects in their area from project identification to implementation and monitoring.
Said he to participants drawn from across the Rivers State, “The essence of this training is to motivate you to begin to do things you should do which include active verification of NDDC projects , monitoring of projects, reaching out to , engaging with the NDDC. Hold meetings, e narrative on development in the Niger Delta”.
The programme is a jointly being executed by Mac-Jim Foundation, Kebetkache Women Resources and Development Center and Face Initiative in Rivers and Bayelsa states.