A’Ibom Citizens Track Govt Projects, Tackle Corrupt Contractors 

——- As PAACA Mobilizes citizens against graft.

Akwa Ibom citizens have unveiled plans to track all public-funded projects across the state in a bid to tackle corruption and hold the responsible institutions accountable.

Abandoned Model School, Uruan

The move by the citizens under the auspices of Akwa Ibom Citizens Network Against Corruption (AKCNAC), a network of community members drawn from various local government areas of Akwa Ibom State and the leadership of labour and trade union in the state, is meant to limit the activities of corrupt contractors and government officials across all levels of government in the state.
The grassroots anti-corruption initiative in the state is part of the nationwide citizen’s mobilization by the Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA).
According to The Mail Newspaper, AKCNAC has identified abandoned schools and health facilities coupled with unexpected projects across various local government areas of the state.
The network during their tracking exercise on Thursday, September 23, 2021, berthed Issiet Ekim in Uruan local government area and uncovered a State-owned model School with 30 block buildings, some with story buildings abandoned since 2006 and now overgrown with grasses.
The Network also tracked Health Post, Oti-Oro in Okobo local government area which the Federal Government through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has carried out renovation but is yet to put the facility to use. The project is reported to have been completed in May 2021.
In Oron, the Network followed through on the N34 million renovation and furnishing project of Health Post along Market Square road awarded by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Although the renovation has taken place, the facility is yet to be furnished.
At St. Patrick’s Primary School, Mbokpu Eyokan in Urue Offong Oruko, the N20m project tagged ” construction and furnishing of 1-block of 2-classrooms with Teacher’s Office” awarded by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Education neither have to project on the ground or an indication of commencement.
At Health Post in Eka Midim Clan in Abak local government area, a Federal Government project with the Federal Ministry of Health as the client which is tagged “Development of Outreach Centre with laboratory Department” has a budget of N30m but the project after months of being awarded only recently witnessed the demolition of existing staff quarter with reports that the said project will be erected at that point.
Briefing Journalists after the project tracking exercise, the Coordinator of the Network, Dr Happiness Uduk noted that the next step the network will take will be to Intervene and interact with various stakeholders and institutions that are concerned in each of the projects.
She added “We will write and thank those who have carried out the project to a reasonable extent and urge them to complete it to specification. The projects that have not been executed, we will make further findings on the contractors and engage them to carry out their work and complete it.”
Uduk said the network is equipped with various strategies and approaches depending on the circumstance of the project.
She maintained that the overall purpose of the tracking exercise is for the citizens to benefit from public money expended on projects stressing that the tracking is continuous and the network is poised to follow through on all projects.
The Akwa Ibom Citizens Network Against Corruption was recently inaugurated in the State by the Say No Campaign team during an anti-corruption engagement with community members on the need for members to drive public accountability in their various communities.
The efforts by Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA), and supported by MacArthur Foundation aims to build the capacity of community members, across the country, to raise their voices against corruption and hold the government accountable at local, state and national levels.
The network is made up of community members from various local government areas in Akwa Ibom State and the leadership of labour and trade unions in the State.
According to Executive Director, Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA), Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu, through various training on social accountability processes, the campaign has empowered its network to actively participate in monitoring budget implementation and project executions across the State.
Represented by the Program Officer of PAACA, Freda Ukpoju, she offered insight into the fact that Akwa Ibom Citizen Network Against Corruption has already identified abandoned projects deemed critical for community use and have indicated their interest to engage all stakeholders to ensure their completion.
Ukpoju said some of these projects were reportedly abandoned since 2003, with facilities overgrown by weeds, lying in waste while communities suffer the lack of such facilities.
The Program Officer noted that others, although reoccurring in the budget, are nonexistent at the proposed site of the project as cited in the 2021 Federal Government Appropriation Act.
She lamented that the key reason citizens fail to benefit from funds disbursed for their projects is lack of interest and sometimes tolerance of corruption.

Ukpoju stated that for the narrative to change, it is imperative for citizens to key into the fight, take ownership and raise the tempo to achieve the desired result in the fight against corruption.
It will be recalled that the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) during its anti-corruption radio programs, Public Conscience On Radio and Radio Town Hall Meetings made several calls for Nigerians to monitor and take ownership of public-funded projects in their localities.
The Executive Director of PRIMORG, Okhiria Agbonsuremi who praised the efforts and the initiative of the Akwa Ibom citizens to track projects revealed that PRIMORG will continue to beam the searchlight on Constituency Projects across the nation in the second phase of its project, titled: STRENGTHENING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY BY AMPLIFYING CORRUPTION RELATED INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS ON THE RADIO AND THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.

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