…meets community leaders, CSOs, others over abandoned projects in the State.
By Miracle Enuji
Deltans have been tasked to take ownership of constituency projects sited in their various communities as well as report cases of abandoned or uncompleted projects to anti-corrupt agencies for investigation and subsequent prosecution.
This charge was given during a one-day town hall meeting organized by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for community leaders, religious leaders, NGOs, CBOs, others on March 17, in Asaba, the state capital.
The anti-corruption agency riding on the “My Constituency, My Project” crusade, said it was in the state for a public enlightenment campaign to inform citizens of their roles in making projects sited in their domains beneficial to the community by being involved in the selection process, monitoring, implementation and protection of the projects after completion for the purpose of transparency and accountability.
They stressed that constituency projects were solely funded by tax payers monies and were not freebies from politicians, hence the need for them to take such projects as priority for the benefit of all.
In an address by a Chief Superintendent in the Commission, Mr Odogwu Preye, ICPC revealed that, through its recent intervention, several abandoned projects have been rescued while contractors who were found wanting had started returning money to government coffers.
He said; “In its drive to stop corruption in the projects executed by government, ICPC launched its Constituency Projects Tracking Group Initiative in 2019 and commenced the first phase of tracking with 12 states to see whether projects were executed and if they were done satisfactory. This exercise was a huge success with the communities in the selected states, on account of the fact that a lot of abandoned projects were completed or are now being completed because of the intervention by ICPC.
“The exercise also led to the recovery of equipment and machinery meant for the benefit of ordinary people which were kept away and were not distributed. Many of such have been distributed to beneficiaries, and have since been put to use. In the process as well, ICPC recovered money for government from those who did not execute the projects, under-performed or inflated the cost of projects.
“We wish to state with emphasis that constituency and other projects are funded by government with public money. This means that the projects are not gifts or donations to your community by political representatives. They belong to you as fruits of national resources and government responsibility to the people.
“The policy of constituency and other government projects for communities is valid evidence that government means well for the people and it’s through these projects that government touches the lives of citizens.
“For these reasons, you, the beneficiaries, need to show interest in the selection, execution and use of these projects. You need to take ownership of the projects for sustainability in the long term. ICPC and the National Orientation Agency are collaborating to bring this message to you in the publicity campaign we have named My Constituency, My Project.”
Leading the interactive session, ICPC Commissioner in-charge of Edo and Delta States, Mr Yusuf Olatunji disclosed that this year, the Commission will embark on the second phase of tracking projects in other states including Delta.
While responding to issues and questions raised by Deltans in the discussion especially on the privacy and safety of whistleblowing, Mr Olatunji said that under the ICPC act, there are provision for informant and information protection for the security of whistleblowers.
He encouraged Deltans who can use the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 to request for information from relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the status of their constituency projects or report complaints on execution of projects to ICPC through calls to 08000-CALL-ICPC (0800-2255-4272) or via mail to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org to get information on the projects approved for their constituencies, the budget and amount of money released.
Participants at the meeting urged ICPC and NOA to bring this enlightenment campaign closer to the grassroots by visiting the 25 Local Government Areas in the State.
Earlier, the State Director, National Orientation Agency, Mr John Emmah in his remarks, disengaged the thoughts that constituency projects were largesse disbursed by legislators as part of their office, adding that NOA’s partnership with ICPC is to change the perception so that citizens will begin to see the projects as theirs.
Mr Emmah maintained that, “It is imperative that a new template for implementing the constituency projects be adopted and the new template we advocate under the new partnership between NOA and ICPC is for the people to own the entire process beginning from conception to execution. It is through this that the aims of bringing government to the grassroots will be achieved”.