Sequel to the Press conference with key media organizations in Nigeria wherein significant successes of the 2-year Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement SACE were highlighted, ANEEJ organized a one-day learning workshop in pursuance of the objectives of the project.
Here is a speech by ANEEJ Executive director, the Rev David Ugolor, at the event.
WELCOME ADDRESS BY ANEEJ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT THE LEARNING WORKSHOP FOR USAID SACE PROJECT HOLDING AT VICHI GATES HOTEL, BENIN CITY, OCTOBER 13, 2016
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen and members of the press:
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this learning workshop in pursuance of the USAID Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement, SACE project. The project is anchored by Chemonics International and funded by USAID and PIND Foundation and involved strengthening the capacity of Civil Society Organisations including journalists and community members to engage Niger Delta Institutions such as Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC) and Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
ANEEJ is currently implementing the USAID Strengthening Advocacy and Civil Engagement (SACE) Project along with other Niger Delta partners such as Riverine Communities Health and Development Organisation (RIVCHO), Warri, Delta State; Green Concern for Development (GREENCODE), Calabar, Cross River State; Gender and Development Action (GADA), Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa), Warri, Delta State.
As you may have seen in the agenda, this event presents opportunity for ANEEJ and her partners to;
- Once again share outcome of citizen’s report card on Niger Delta Institutions survey which we undertook in Edo, Delta, Rivers and Ondo States alongside LITE-Africa
- Enhance the knowledge of participants on the mandates and activities of Niger Delta Institutions and the role of legislature in improving their effectiveness
- Share project success story, learning, challenges and opportunity for further CSOs intervention on the issues we are working on
ANEEJ and her partners believe that civil society organizations and communities need to increase their demand for accountability and hold the Niger Delta Institutions to account in the delivery of their mandates. We desire effective, transparent and accountable institutions working collaboratively to develop Niger Delta region.
We are also interested in improved oversight on NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs by the National Assembly, as well as oversight on EDSOGPADEC and DESOPADEC by Edo and Delta States Houses of Assembly, hence our advocacy also targeted these institutions.
The project has been a success so far as our engagements with some of the institutions yielded tangible results with some of them put measures in place to improve on their effectiveness and as well promote transparency, accountability and disclosure.
For instance, NDDC has adopted some far reaching transparency measures including the publication of quarterly reports; created a portal (called NDDC PMIS PLATEFORM) where a breakdown of all contracts awarded, projects/programme status and locations, contractors’ information, project value and other information from inception to date are made available for the public to access.
The commission has in addition to other measures included CSOs in their project monitoring framework by setting up a civil society project monitoring committee which was inaugurated by the Acting MD, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari during the Follow-up NDDC/CSOs engagement meeting held in Port Harcourt on August 9, 2016.
EDSOGPADEC has also been quite responsive to some of the issues we raised with them as they have now created a website where citizens can assess basic information about them.
Other institutions including DESOPADEC, Edo and Delta State Houses of Assembly made commitments to us during our engagement meeting with them, these are some of the issues we shall share with you and we will jointly follow up with them to see that they fulfill such commitment.
While we commend the Niger Delta Institutions for the measures put in place so far to promote their effectiveness, you will agree with me that there are still quite a number of issues for advocacy with these institutions. For instance, States oil and gas commissions are still treating their budget as secret documents in this era where a lot of State government including Edo operates open government platforms and even has an open data portal. There are still abandoned projects everywhere which these institutions need to address. Some of them still have issues with preparing and publishing quarterly or annual reports and sharing such reports with the public.
We have presented some of these issues to you because we believe that some of you have the capacity to join this struggle to make Niger Delta Institutions effective, transparent and accountable to the people.
We want to particularly appreciate USAID, PIND Foundation and Chemonics for providing the funds and other forms of support to us without which this project would not have been possible.
Thank you for honouring our invitation.