- Train on rights to query public sector financial management
While federal government quango, the NDDC is currently enmeshed in humongous mismanagement of N81.5 billion on frivolities in only four months (January – May) amid high-level illegalities and corruption in contract awards, half-finished, partly-done or outrightly abandoned projects, the women in the oil region have risen to demand on the commission to come clean with accountability in the management of funds provided to it for development of the ravaged region.
The women, drawn from several communities in the Niger delta, gathered for a march on the NDDC head-office in Port Harcourt. They were particularly miffed that, 18 years after its creation, the commission hasn’t recorded any success story, hence the need to reposition it. For instance, the commission’s 13-floor headquarters started over a decade ago at estimated cost of N16.2 billion, but yet unfinished; a cardiovascular hospital being built by the commission but left at 80 percent completion; 91 containers of electrical equipment including 5,000 electricity transformers left at Onne Port for years, among many others.
Kebetkache, a women resource group, said the women were standing for their rights, especially in the face of the startling revelations and looting of public funds by successive managements of the NDDC. They operate partnerships with civil society organizations, the media and public sector agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)
Emem Okon, leader of the group, told Business A.M. that, as a women development and resource centre, they are training community women leaders across the oil region to “demand accountability in the management of funds provided for the development of the region.” “Our aim is to guide the women aright to be able to make proper use of available information to engage concerned stakeholders for their activities to gain a positive impact on society,” she said further.
Okon, the executive director at Kebetkache, said the programme has been a continuation of their activity to demand for accountability and proper management of funds by the NDDC. They are doing this under a ‘gender and accountability project’ in partnership with WRAPA, and supported by the MacArthur Foundation of USA.
“We’re to set an agenda for proper engagement and advocacy by women groups and civil society actors in the oil region of Niger Delta to get to the right targets, make the right demands; and knowing the impact of such actions on the well-being of their communities. We invited the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to lead the guide, being a public sector agency,” Okon told Business A.M.
Meanwhile, some community women from the oil region have embarked on tracking and monitoring all NDDC projects at the instance of Kabetkache. Some of them told Business A.M. that since the commencement of the forensic audit and probe of the NDDC, some projects that were abandoned in the communities were now receiving surprise attention by the commission and its contractors.
Peter Aveyina, a superintendent at the ICPC said Kabetkache was doing well at building women to engage the public sector on accountability, especially in the NDDC, and in the fight against corruption. He said the ICPC Act also places a responsibility on it to sensitize the people on the evils and ills of corruption in the country, lamenting that the mismanagement and stealing of public funds by corrupt officials have fuelled unemployment, massive job loss, and responsible for youths violence and restiveness in the oil region and parts of the country.