The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), organized a two-day workshop for CSOs from Edo, Delta, Rivers and Cross River State, selected community and media representatives in Edo State, from Wednesday 14th – Thursday 15th October, 2015 at Duoban Hotel and Suites, Benin City. The workshop with the theme “Improving Citizen’s Capacity to Engage Niger Delta Development Agencies” was held in pursuance of the Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE) Project anchored by Chemonics International with support from USAID and PIND. A total of 44 participants attended the workshop which was declared opened by the Special Adviser to Edo State Governor on Oil and Gas.
The objectives of the workshop include, to;
- Share summarized outcome of citizen’s report card on Niger Delta Development Agencies
- Enhance the knowledge of participants on the mandates and activities of Niger Delta Development Agencies
- Enhance the knowledge of participants on issues relating to budget monitoring and tracking as well as advocacy and civic engagement strategies
- Agree on follow up action to undertake so as to increase citizen’s demand for accountability with the agencies
- Create opportunity for interaction and discussion among participants on one hand and with the SA to Edo State Governor on Oil and Gas, on the other hand
Participants at the workshop noted the following:
- The lack of coordination among the Niger Delta Development Agencies such as NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, EDSOGPADEC and DESOPADEC, which sometimes lead to project duplication, a situation that does not promote effective development of the region.
- Lamented the high level of abandoned projects in the region initiated by the Niger Delta Development Agencies.
- Observed that both the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs seem to be pursuing the same mandates and wonder why the agencies should continue to exist and function separately.
- Observed that communities have not been fully involved in the design and implementation of projects executed by some of the development agencies in Niger Delta.
- So far, persons living with disabilities have not been taken into consideration in project design as many of them are unable to use the facilities where such facilities exist.
- Observed that some of the Niger Delta Development Agencies do not make available to the public basic information such as annual budgets, annual reports among others for public use.
In the light of the above, participants resolved as follows:
- Appeal to Niger Delta Development Agencies such as NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, EDSOGPADEC and DESOPADEC to ensure coordination among them so as to reduce incidence of project duplication and increase even spread of development projects in the region.
- That Development Agencies in the region should make effort to complete all abandoned projects that are currently visible in the region and initiate new ones that will have high impact on the citizens especially the marginalized groups including women, children and persons living with disabilities.
- Call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to consider merging the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and NDDC and as well reposition the agency to meet the aspirations of the people of Niger Delta
- Call on development agencies in the region to fully involve communities in project identification, implementation and monitoring to reduce incidence of substandard and abandon projects in the region.
- Appeal to development agencies in the region to consider marginalized groups including persons living with disability in project design and implementation.
- Call on Niger Delta Development Agencies to make basic information such as annual budgets, annual reports among others available for public scrutiny and use.
Participants expressed gratitude to ANEEJ, USAID and PIND for considering them worthy to benefit from such an important workshop and promised to advance the issues raised at the workshop.
Ann Obehi Ojugo, Unique Love for Persons with Disabilities (ULPWD)
Nosa Tokunbor, Environmental Rights Action (ERA)
Elijah Philomena, Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO)
Osarenkhoe Ugiagbe, Chairman, Ikobi Community Development Association
Stanley Osayende, Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, Edo State Chapter
Innocent Edemhanria, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ