A consortium of four organizations assessing the performance of the 2018 budget on Capital projects implementation in four Local Government Areas in Benue state today presented its report at a joint press conference in Makurdi, the state Capital.
Mr Samson Iornongu who works with Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative told newsmen in a separate interview that the four NGOs namely NAWIA, ECCAI, WRAHI and Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative Supported by Netherlands through Women Environmental Programme, WEP, were working on the Netherlands accountability projects with a focus on issues having to do with women participation in the community.
“We went to the field to monitor selected projects from 2018 budget to assess to what extent the government has implemented those projects. If they haven’t implemented, the information we gathered is what we are sharing out to the whole world out there.
“Government has tried because we went over there and 32% of this projects we had monitored were actually implemented and were in usage, 38% were ongoing and then the remaining ones were left unfinished. So, based on that, I think the government has tried”, Mr Iornongu stated.
He expressed the resolve of the NGOs to sustain the monitoring of projects year in year out.
Earlier in a presentation, the Executive Director of Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative, Dr Helen Teghtegh who was represented by Dooyum Orbunde said, the monitoring of the projects took place over a period of five months from February to June 2020 and a total of 40 Capital projects were monitored across the four Local Government Areas.
She further explained that the projects were selected at random from 2018 Benue state appropriation document with a focus on road construction, Bridges, High Culverts, Electrification, Water Infrastructure, schools, health care centres and skill acquisition centres.
The findings presented by Dr Teghtegh indicated that 35 out 40 projects monitored were from the Ministry of Rural Development and Cooperatives, one from ministry of Works, Transport and Energy, One from Ministry of Water Resources and Environment while three were from Ministry of Education.
Out of the 40 projects monitored across the 4 Local Government Areas: 28%(11 projects) had no evidence of work done or commencement of work on the projects, 38% (15 projects) were incomplete and abandoned, 32%(13) of the projects were completed and in use while 2%(1) of the projects monitored were ongoing.
Dr Teghtegh made it known that the essence of the monitoring was to help the government prioritize issues in the 2021 budget and to inform the public about the intervention of the government in their communities.
She recommended that all the abandoned projects in the identified communities be included in the 2021 budget or 2020 supplementary budget.
Contractors should immediately be mobilized to site for the execution of projects.
Government should involve CSOs in projects monitoring activities to balance perspectives and ensure transparency and prudence.
Reacting to the report, the Director of Planning Research and Statistics in the Ministry of Rural Development and Cooperatives, Moses Pila Tarvershima who represented Commissioner of the Ministry, Engr Vincent Ukaha disagreed on the number of abandoned projects, saying that the assessment was carried out by laymen who did not get accurate results.
Fielding questions from journalists as why only 32% of the projects was executed from the 2018 budget and some work was not done or abandoned, he said,” no, I disagree with that figure. You know the NGO has done wonderfully well but they have decided to go to our various communities with the personnel that does not have the knowhow. Like I earlier said, you cannot give what you don’t have at all. When we summoned what they have put down in the document there, we discovered that government has done about 57%, that is credit. So you will agree with me that this government is doing well. If you are sending somebody to go and ascertain what is done on rural roads, I expect that a Civil Engineer should have accompanied them.
“That is why I advised them that next time if they are going to supervise our projects, they should inform us so that we will send the various professionals in these two areas so that they can ascertain what is there. Some of these projects have a lifespan because sometimes, government will award a project of a particular year, may be about 30 kilometres. So, if you go there and you come back to say that the work has been abandoned, it is not abandonment. The delay in another year coming in payment or in giving certificate or delay in another year coming for us to continue with the project should not amount to project abandoned.
“This Government of Ortom is doing well in rural areas as far as I’m concerned because I’m the Director of Planning.
“I encourage them that next time if they are going, they should tell us so that we will give them all the assistance that is needed in terms of personnel, in terms of what has been budgeted, in terms of what we have done so that they can come up with the actual figure,” Pila advised.
However, discussants at the event were unanimous that informing the government to give a delegation to accompany the monitoring team will end up compromising the process. They also argued that the Director of Planning based his judgement and analysis on technicalities and professionalism rather than the real facts on ground.
Participants at the conference were drawn from the Civil Society Organizations, the traditional institution, the media and communities where projects were monitored.