BY: AFRICA NETWORK FOR ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE (ANEEJ)
DURING ANEEJ VISIT TO THE SPEAKER ON WEDNESDAY MAY 18, 2016 AT EDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY COMPLEX, BENIN CITY
The Honourable Speaker,
Other Honourable members
Ladies and gentlemen
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) wishes to use this opportunity to first of all congratulate Hon. (Mrs.) Elizabeth Ativie on her election as Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly. By this election, you have made history as the first female speaker of the House, reminiscence of the history you made at the National Youth Council of Nigeria.
We are here to share with you and by extension the entire membership of Edo State House of Assembly, the findings from our Citizen Report Card on Niger Delta Institutions survey conducted by ANEEJ and LITE-Africa and our recommendation on how to improve the effectiveness of NDIs including Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC).
While implementing the USAID Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement project, ANEEJ and LITE-Africa carried out an assessment of Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs) such as NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, EDSOGPADEC AND DESOPADEC to get a deeper understanding of the mandates, policies and the activities they are pursuing. ANEEJ also conducted a citizen report card survey on the institutions including EDSOGPADEC to get citizens perception on the activities of the Commission and allow the citizens to rate their performance.
We will be specific to EDSOGPADEC in most cases because the Hournorable House has the power to carry out oversight function on the Commission.
Summary of report findings
• Funding to EDSOGPADEC has been largely insufficient, while other Commissions like DESOPADEC and OSOPAEDEC boast of annual budgets of between N20bn – N39bn, EDSOGPADEC’s budget is usually around N4bn – N5bn
• The development agencies including EDSOGPADEC have some abandoned projects in some communities which do not give them a good name. For instance, the abandoned health centre in Obagie Nokenkporo started over 8 years ago.
• Some projects executed by EDSOGPADEC in some communities are not being put to use years after their completion. This raises a big question as to how those projects were identified – EDSOGPADEC liaison office in Obagie Nokenkporo, Community town halls in Ikobi and Obozogbe, most police stations built by the Commission, to mention just a few.
• EDSOGPADEC as a Commission does not have a website just like every other Commission in the region. This hinders access by the public to basic information. The detailed budget of the Commission is a secret document, a situation that puts a public agency in bad light.
• Civil society groups have been totally excluded in the project monitoring framework of the Commission.
RECOMMENDATIONS ON WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF EDSOGPADEC
The following recommendations represent our suggestions as development workers arising from the reports and our policy work in the region, on how to improve the effectiveness of EDSOGPADEC.
• Considering the current fall in the price of crude oil and the resultant negative impact on allocation to State including the 13% derivation fund, we propose an amendment to the EDSOGPADEC law to pave way for increased funding of the Commission from the current 40% share of the 13% derivation fund to at least 60%. The opportunity for the amendment should also be used to reduce the number of board members serving at the Commission from 10 presently including the Chairman to 7 (the chairman, 3 civil servants and 3 political appointees), which should now be on part time basis, so that the recurrent expenditure in form of salaries and other benefits of some board members and their aids could be channeled to capital expenditure on critical infrastructure.
• The Commission should make effort to complete all abandoned projects in their area of operations including the health center at Obagie Nokenkporo, then complete the road leading to the community and also embark on new projects in the State that will be of maximum benefit to the people.
• The various projects completed by the Commission need to be put to use and the Commission should ensure that such projects represent the felt needs of the communities and the communities were involved in project identification.
• EDSOGPADEC should design a standard website for its operation. The website should be used to share information with the public. Information such as annual budget, annual reports highlighting ongoing/completed projects with pictures, successes and challenges will be useful to the public and will also increase public rating in terms of disclosure. Such reports could attract development partners to the Commission who could provide grants in areas of interest.
• There is need for improved legislative oversight on the activities and projects of the Commission as this will improve their effectiveness and promote proper functioning of the Commission
• Civil Society Organisations should be included in the project monitoring team of Edo State House of Assembly to carry out independent monitoring of EDSOGPADEC projects. This will strengthen the oversight role of the house and as well ensure compliance and quality assurance and avoid sub-standard or abandoned projects. This would further facilitate accountability and improve the public perception of the Commission.
• The annual reports submitted to the House of Assembly through the Governor as provided for by Section 22 of EDSOGPADEC law should be made available to the public through their website.
We believe that Edo State House of Assembly has a role to play in bringing about a transparent, accountable and effective Commission, hence the decision to meet with the leadership of the House to share our views.
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