OLEH—THE Isoko Monitoring Group (IMG) has organised a training on Access to Information, Public Procurement, Project Monitoring and Open Contracting to equip its members and other critical stakeholders within Isoko with the required knowledge needed to take ownership of public projects and hold government and contractors handling such projects accountable. The training, which was facilitated by Mr. Onyekachi Chukwu of the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), an International Organisation that is promoting Open Contracting in Nigeria, was held at Noble International Hotel in Oleh weekend.
While declaring the event open, IMG President, Dr. Oke Michael, said that despite contributing so much to the treasury of Delta State and Nigeria, the Isoko ethnic group has been grossly marginalised in terms of projects distribution in the state and federal annual budgets, stressing that the level of development in the Niger Delta region is not commensurate with the wealth it is contributing to the commonwealth of Nigeria.
Oke charged all the 26 professionals of Isoko extraction from all works of life, who he said were “carefully selected based on their antecedents toward selfless agitations and general development of the society”, to take the training very serious and be ready to employ same in holding government accountable for the benefits of the general group.
He said: “We put this very important training on Access to Information, Public Procurement, Project Monitoring and Open Contracting together to equip the Isoko people and critical developmental advocates with the needed skills, knowledge, ideas and insights to demand for fair projects placement on our national and state budgets, track those projects and monitor the execution of such projects in Isoko-land, Delta and Niger Delta.
“It is expected that at the end of the training, participants should be able to pass knowledge acquired to others and also use same as foundation to hold government, its agencies, elected representatives and contractors accountable. We cannot continue shying away from the unabated abandonment of public projects as well as the execution of substandard projects across the country. If a contractor must take public projects and be made to handle public funds, such contractors must be ready to follow the Bill of Quantity (BOQ) of such projects to the letter. Also, the awarding agency must be transparent in the budgeting, procurement and contracting processes and be willing to make available to the public information on the projects so that the public can take ownership and monitor their executions. The common sharp practices of cutting corners must be discouraged and discontinued.
“We call on government and the agencies responsible to see it as a matter of public importance to implement the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by bringing defaulting agencies to justice. This will encourage openness and greatly promote anti-graft war. After this training, we will not just be able to hold government accountable, we shall also monitor ongoing projects in our communities and ensure they are done according to specifications.”