Presented by Innocent Edemhanria, ANEEJ Programme Officer
With support from USAID and PIND, ANEEJ and LITE-Africa carried out a citizen’s report card (CRC) on Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs) such as NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Edo state Oil and Gas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC) and Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC). The assessment was carried out in 24 communities across four States in the Niger Delta – Cross River, Delta, Edo and Ondo. The assessment was a follow up to validate the earlier research carried out on the NDIs by both organizations focusing on having a deeper understanding of their mandate, policies and activities. The CRC serves as an accountability tool, which provides community residents feedback on the effectiveness, mandate, policies and activities of the NDIs. Thus, it amplifies the voices of community residents to a wider audience, which will help place them at the center of the policy discourse on decisions that affect their lives.
The CRC as an advocacy tool provides a basis for interaction among citizens and the institutions which is hoped to result in enhanced administrative planning and coordination to ensure appropriate and functional development projects. Government agencies can also utilize this community-level data to guide their development policies, decisions, and allocation of funding to Niger Delta communities.
From May through July 2015, a team of ANEEJ and LITE-Africa field officers carried out 96 focus group discussions and 44 Key Informant Interviews with 845 community residents in 24 communities, 9 Local Government Areas and 4 States in the Niger Delta.
The CRC report shows that development interventions in the Niger Delta need to be re-focused to meet the needs of community residents. It reveals poor planning, in some cases failure to properly incorporate community residents in the development decision processes and lack of coordination among the NDIs leading to duplication, abandoned and sub-standard projects in some communities. A total of 84 abandoned projects were identified with Delta and Ondo States topping the list followed by Edo and Cross River States.
Niger Delta residents have also struggled to fully understand the mandate of each of these agencies and how to single out what each of these institutions stand to deliver in terms of development in the region. It was found that apart from the East West road, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is not on the ground in the region and many of the community residents neither had heard of nor knew the role of the Ministry.
Regarding the relationship between the agencies and citizens, 96% of the communities surveyed rated their relationship with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as poor while with NDDC, it was rated 70%. As for the oil and gas Commission and Regional Development Councils; 25% – 50% of the community respondents rated their relationship with these agencies as poor. This is a general reflection of the grassroots base of these agencies and how they are perceived by Niger Delta communities.
Concerning the ways that community residents access information on project allocation from the NDIs, it was revealed that radio is the most common source of information, followed by community leaders and then project contractors. On consultation before project implementation, 62% of the community residents said that they were consulted by the NDIs while 38% said they were not. In other cases, they are informed about the projects through contractors after such projects have been awarded or when the NDIs ask the communities for land allocation. A typical example of poor community consultation was revealed in Igo, Ilaje LGA of Ondo State where community members refused to use a public toilet constructed by the Ilaje RDC because the community members were not informed before the toilet was constructed.
In relation to the performance of the NDIs on education in communities where the assessment was carried out, it was revealed that 21% percent of the communities surveyed have no primary schools while 79% have primary schools. In the communities that have primary schools, 68% of communities surveyed have adequate desks and chairs for the pupils while 32% do not have a desk and a chair for each pupil. Some of the community schools do not have toilet facilities and water
The KII also reveal low levels of partnership between the Local Government, community and NDIs in execution of programs and projects. The community residents disclosed that they would like to see better, cordial and supportive partnership and for NDIs to open up liaison offices in their communities.
The report came up with the following recommendations;
- The NDIs and companies should be open and transparent in their policies and also do proper consultation before embarking on projects. In this way, they will be able to implement more people oriented and impactful programmes that are tailored to the community needs.
- The NDIs should collaborate and synergize their action plans in various communities and carry the communities along in the implementation of projects.
- Monitoring teams should be set up to carry out strict supervision, ensure compliance and avoid sub-standard or abandoned projects.
October 14, 2015
Niger Delta Institutions Assessment Report, June 2015.