By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – An expert, Barrister Titus Mann, on Thursday, said that the lack of openness and transparency in the award of government contracts and procurement process are some of the obstacles to communities’ effective tracking of projects cited in the locality.
He disclosed this at a meeting cum training for School Based Management Committees, (SBMCs), Community members for effective tracking of the Federal Government’s School Feeding Program in Kaduna State organized by an NGO, Connecting Gender for Development, (COGEN) in Kaura Local Government Area.
According to him, the absence of a culture of sustained and positive interaction between government and communities, which narrorws avenues of cooperation, contact and collaboration between them is another obstacle.
He added that not much will be achieved without the active participation of community members and relevant stakeholders in the school feeding program and other development projects.
The legal luminary in his presentation titled: “Obstacles to Effective Tracking of Government Projects by Communities” enlightened participants on how to track and monitor government projects as well as how to attract development programs from philanthropists and NGOs.
“Communities needed to track projects in the area to ensure that they were properly executed in accordance with specifications, and satisfy the purpose for which they planned, and that they continue to meet these purposes, to ensure transparency, and to ensure prompt delivery.
“This stressed the need for effective mobilization of community members and equipping them with necessary skills, not only to monitor government projects, but how to mobilize resources to champion development efforts,” Mann said.
On how communities can effectively and efficiently track government projects in their locality, Mann said the following were necessary: “Communities should be involved in identifying and prioritizing their community’s needs, through a participatory needs assessment process and other relevant surveys.
“Community should be involved in the project planning process; this enables them to know the resources required and makes it possible for them to know if and what contributions they can make.”
Others include: community should be involved in project implementation in terms of the use of local resources, material or, human (technical expertise or physical labour); local communities should contribute to projects in cash or kind, as this would make them value such projects, and create ownership; and after completion, communities should be involved in maintaining and sustaining such projects.
Earlier, COGEN Head of Programs, Mr. Ebenezer Omolekun, disclosed that 257 SBMCs snd community members were trained in Jema’a, 202 in Zangon Kataf and 315 in Kaura Local Government Areas, where the NGO, with support from the MacArthur Foundation is tracking the program.
Speaking further, he said the meeting cum training with the theme: ” Citizens Actively Engaging Government for Development” was designed to get everyone on board for the success of the program.
Omolekun explained that the purpose was to ensure success of the program in the state by ensuring that stakeholders do what needed to be done as at when due.
“We equally hope that the meeting will enable participants share experiences and what improvement recorded from the challenges affecting the implementation of the program,” he said.
COGEN is tracking the program in 60 schools, drawing 20 each from Kaura, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf Local Government Areas of the state.