… urge agency to uphold transparency
No fewer than 21 civil society organisations have adopted the resolution of the House of Representatives on the North East Development Commission (NEDC).
The CSOs under the auspices of the Coalition of Human Rights Groups and Independent Monitors, therefore, urged the commission to sustainin its mantra of accountability and transparency.
The group, which made this known at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, said it came to this conclusion after a systematic appraisal of the activities of the agency.
In a report co-signed by convener, Comrade Bassey Ukpong, secretary, Barr Joy Gonzwak alongside the heads of other groups, the CSOs hailed the NEDC for its strategic interventions, urging international partners to maintain their relationship with the agency.
According to the report, the NEDC under the leadership of its MD/CEO, Mohammed G. Alkali, has been outstanding in the areas of accountability/ transparency, project implementation, organisational structure among others.
The group said after it embarked on an assessment tour of the region, it discovered an overwhelming presence of the agency in most communities, especially in terms of infrastructures.
On the report of corruption, the CSOs said the allegations was sponsored by some disgruntled politicians given Alkali’s tough stance with regards to the finances of the agency.
As part of its recommendation, the group however, urged the NEDC to constantly engage critical media constituency in carrying out of its various interventions in North-East Nigeria.
Read Full Report Below
The Coalition of Human Rights Groups and Independent Monitors is a coalition of 21 civil Iociety organisations devoted to the preservation of human rights, which includes but not limited to scrutinizing the efforts of government and her institutions in the conservation of the rights of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution, as well as the actions of the government in the rendering of humanitarian assistance to communities in need across the country.
In fulfilment of one of its strategic mandates, the Coalition of Human Rights Groups and Independent Monitors undertook a systematic appraisal of the North East Development Commission in its efforts to address the developmental challenges in North-East Nigeria, occasioned by several years of Boko Haram insurgency.
Its strategic importance informed the choice of North East Development Commission in addressing the humanitarian challenges in North-East Nigeria and also to put issues in proper perspective for the general public to form their opinion on the journey so far in the NEDC through its various intervention in addressing the myriad of developmental challenges in North-East Nigeria.
For the records, The North-East Development Commission (NEDC) is the focal organisation charged with the responsibility to assess, coordinate, harmonise and report on all intervention programs and initiatives by the Federal Government or any of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), States; and other Development Partners and for the implementation of all programs and initiatives for the North East states; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, respectively.
Key Governance Indices:
In assessing the impact of the NEDC since inception, the Coalition of Human Rights Groups and Independent Monitors scrutinised the NEDC using the following governance indices:
The act establishing the NEDC was explicit in its organisational structure, which was designed to ensure productivity and ensure checks and balances amongst the various departments in the organisation. After a detailed scrutiny of the organisation l s operations, it was realised that the various departments operate under an open policy that emphasizes accountability and transparency.
The Managing Director of the NEDC though the administrative head of the organisation, is also subjected to scrutiny and supervision by the board that constitutes Nigerians with impeccable personalities that have distinguished themselves in their various careers. The management team also consists of three executive directors and representatives of each geopolitical zones in the country.
From our findings, it was observed that there had been an excellent relationship between the management staff and the generality of the staffers. Duties are well spelt out, and the various checks and balances mechanism in place ensures strict adherence to the rules.
It was also observed that the NEDC has in place a robust project conception and implementation policy that ensures that projects embarked on achieve the desired objectives. This is indeed a plus for the organisation in the sense that white elephant projects are not undertaken, which would lead to a waste of the resources of the organisation.
The organisation also has in place a project monitoring team that consists of staffers from all the departments. It was designed to ensure that the project monitoring team must certify such before monies are disbursed for projects that reach completion. It is instructive to state that the managing director is not a part of the project monitoring team. In his capacity as the managing director, he only relies on the judgement of the project monitoring team.
Accountability and Transparency:
From our findings, the NEDC is a bastion of accountability and transparency. This much was evident in the way and manner the resources of the agency are judiciously utilized. This much was gathered after extensive interaction with contractors, staffers, religious and community leaders in communities in North-East states, and other relevant stakeholders.
It is not business as usual in the agency due to the robust institutional framework that ensures that processes are adhered to. All staffers are constantly reminded of the overarching objective of the agency, which is bringing succour to the people of North-East Nigeria that have suffered years of hardship and socio-economic losses as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
In the appraisal of the activities of the NEDC since inception, the Coalition of Human Rights Groups and Independent Monitors undertook an on the spot visit to select communities in North-East Nigeria, and the result was overwhelmingly positive. The impact of the NEDC in North-East Nigeria within a short period was very commendable as its presence was felt in almost all communities straddling the states in North-East Nigeria.
The provision of critical infrastructures topped the list of projects embarked on by the NEDC. The educational and health sectors were also not left out. It was recorded that the NEDC has been proactive in the areas mentioned above. Our findings also revealed that the NEDC has continually engaged the host communities in their various projects. It was discovered that it put in place to accommodate inputs from beneficiary communities. In most instances, this methodology has given them a sense of belonging, which is mainly responsible for the successes recorded in achieving the agency’s mandate.
Stories of Corruption at the NEDC:
The Coalition of Human Rights Groups and Independent Monitors also took out time to investigate some of the allegations of corrupt practices at the agency. It was realised that the allegations were of mischief purposes. The generality of the allegations was not based on any substantial evidence but rather insinuations, given the tough stance of the managing director with regards to the finances of the agency. It was also observed that some politicians with ulterior motives were responsible for the news making the rounds as it appears it is not business as usual, a prevalent practice in most government agencies.
As a result of the appraisal of the operations of the NEDC with regards fulfilling its mandate, e herby make the following recommendations:
That the NEDC should constantly engage the critical media constituency in the carrying out of its various interventions in North-East Nigeria.
That the NEDC should convoke a periodic town hall meeting with critical stakeholders to keep them abreast of its activities.
The NEDC should strengthen its public relations unit through training to strengthen its capacity for strategic communication.
The NEDC should set up advocacy units to drum support from international partners for its activities in North-East Nigeria.
In conclusion, the Coalition of Human Rights Groups and Independent Monitors gives the management of the NEDC a pass mark for its strategic interventions in North-East Nigeria. We are also calling on international partners to continue to have confidence in the activities of the NEDC as one of the best and most accountable intervention agencies in Nigeria, given the above mentioned.