As part of the strategy to promote effective Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs,) Riverine Communities Health Organization (RIVCHO), Africa Network for Environment And Economic Justice (ANEEJ) & Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-AFRICA) embarked on an advocacy visit to Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commision (DESOPADEC) to share the report of the research findings of their performance and citizens’ perception about the commission.
The visit provided a platform for the RIVCHO to discuss the research findings and make recommendations to the commission on how to improve on her service delivery to the citizens.
The meeting was attended by 18 RIVCHO Team member persons comprising 15 males and 3 females while DESOPADEC team was led by one of the top management staff, the Executive Director, Social Service Development, Hon. Ochor Ochor.
High point of the visit
The visit started off with a discussion about the purpose of the visit and the goal of the SACE project after which an advocacy memo was presented and delivered to the commission. The memo focused on the findings of both the research and the Citizens Report Card (CRC) survey which provide feedback and recommendations from community members on how the commission can improve on her service delivery.
Some of the issues raised in the memo include;
− Lack of synergy between the Niger Delta Institutions (NDIs)
− Lack of consultation of community members during project identification and execution, which results in a lack of community ownership of the development projects executed by the different agencies.
− The DESOPADEC website is not updated regularly
− Lack of maintenance to projects that are constructed by the NDIs.
− Exclusion of civil society groups in DESOPADEC project monitoring framework
However RIVCHO Team recommended that the Commission should
− Ensure the completion of all abandoned projects
− Consultative meetings should be held with community members during project selection and execution to ensure projects are need driven.
− The website should be should be regularly updated.
− Openness and transparency in the commissions’ policies and processes should be increased, to provide a better understanding among stakeholders of the existing challenges and possibilities.
− The commission should work collaboratively with other development agencies and stakeholders in the region, such as NDDC, Federal Ministry of Niger Affairs and CSOs, to synergize their action plans in various communities in order to avoid duplication of projects and waste of resources.
After a careful evaluation of findings, the Executive Director made the following commitment on behalf of the commission; that
– The DESOPADEC website would be updated regularly
– most of the abandoned projects will be completed before the end of the year as the commission allocated 60% of capital budget to complete ongoing project and only 40% to new projects.
– The commission will ensure that communities are consulted during project selection using the bottom – top approach.
– The commission will work to ensure a synergy between the commission and the other NDIs, to address the issues of project duplication and waste of resources.
– The possibility of CSO involvement in the monitoring of development projects by DESOPADEC will be discussed at the board meetings. although the ED also underscored the importance of independence monitoring by CSOs.
In Conclusion, the ED thanked the CSO teams for being watchdogs and for writing such a comprehensive report on the projects of the NDIs, including DESOPADEC. He appreciated the team for the CRC report which he said would provide a guide for government institutions to serve the people better. He promised to hand over the reports to the entire board of DESOPADEC and look forward to how the project will kick-start better coordination among the NDIs.