An advocacy group, BudgIT, on Monday called on Nigerians to develop the habit of tracking projects meant for their communities as captured in the budget.
Abiola Sosami, the BudgIT Tracka Team Lead, who made the call in Lagos urged communities to also collaborate with NGOs in budget monitoring.
According to her, this is the way to drive value out of the nation’s annual budget and ensure such allocations translate into real development in communities.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that BudgIT is an NGO which seeks to address citizens’ lack of access to information on budget formulation and execution.
It aims to empower citizens to demand transparency and accountability in the Nigerian government.
NAN reports further that Tracka is a BudgIT innovation created to assist actively interested citizens to efficiently track budgets and public projects in their respective communities.
Sosami said that the NGO’s intervention in Nigerian communities through Tracka was effectively driving delivery of Federal constituency projects nationwide.
“Taking Edo State as an example, our intervention in the state dates as far back as 2014, when we recruited field tracking officers to visit rural communities.
“We enlightened the residents about related project provisions and the importance of holding elected public officials accountable to ensure service delivery.
“We visited Ivbiodohen, a community in Owan West in March 2015, where a project for the construction of a N200 million Uzebba-Okagbon road was sited; it was supposed to connect six villages – Uzebba, Ikpeyan, OkpujeIvbiodhen, Oah and Okagbon.
“Its implementation will naturally ease commuting and improve economic ties with neighbouring communities,’’ Sosami said in a statement.
She said that their visit to the project site showed the site as deserted with no visible development in surrounding communities, while the farming community experienced difficulties in transporting their produce.
Sosami said most of the produce harvested by the mostly agrarian residents were consumed locally with a larger part, rotting and wasting away within a few days.
She said the NGO had held an advocacy meeting with the Ivobiodohen residents, who said they were totally unaware of the budget provision.
Sosami, however, said after the advocacy meeting, the residents were informed of the provision and empowered with names and contact details of government officials in charge of the projects.
She said BudgIT officials at the meeting encouraged the people to be involved in the budgeting process and of their rights to demand accountability to ensure service delivery.
“Upset about the huge allocation and lack of action, they wrote letters to their Representative, Honourable Victor Asein, the Ministry of Works and the Edo State Governor.
“Tracka team also sent letters to the public officials in charge of the project to enquire of the status of the provision and to ensure the project is captured in the 2016 budget should it not reach completion in 2015.
“Although both parties got no response from the government concerning this project, it was however brought forward in the 2016 Budget for N250 million.
“We revisited Ivbiodohen to inform them of this development and repeated the engagement exercises and sent letters to the State Governor, Adams Oshiomole,the commissioner for works, Barrister Chris Ogie and Asein Victor, House of Assembly member representing the community.
“In November 2016, the Project Tracking Officer received phone calls from members of Ivbiodohen community confirming the presence of construction workers at the project site, the road is ongoing,’’ she said.
Sosami added that success had also been recorded in Imoukpe community, also in Edo, for the execution of N96 million motorised borehole with a solar pump.
She disclosed that the borehole construction commenced in January 2017 for the community, which had a challenge of scarce water with polluted river.
Sosami said the NGO was undertaking such engagements in communities nationwide.
She urged communities to partner with it and show interest in collaborating, tracking and giving feedback on public projects around them.