By Bashir Bello, KANO
A Non-Governmental Organization, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education, CHRICED has on Tuesday unveiled a Community-Driven Anti-Corruption Initiatives to track and uncover shady deals in constituency projects scattered across 44 local government areas of Kano State.
The Executive Director, Zikirullahi Ibrahim while speaking during the inaugural media briefing to unveil the programme which has a life span of three years and supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, said the initiative is to reduce corrupt practices with regards to delivery of key social services particularly constituency projects in the state.
Ibrahim who expressed worry over yearly appropriations of funds for constituency projects yet nothing on ground to commensurate the fund’s accused politicians of abusing the projects.
He said the programme will empower the local citizens with the skills and capacities to use innovative approaches, and legal provisions to ensure funds for constituency projects achieve the real objectives for which they were appropriated and also track where the projects were sited or not.
He further said it will also work hand in hand with anti-graft agencies such as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-corruption Commission as well as Civil Society Organizations, CSOs and Media towards achieving the set goal.
According to him, “one of the major tragedies of our country is the fact that since the advent of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, trillions of Naira of public resources spent by governments at all levels have not translated to a better life for the people. The people of this country wallow in poverty, misery and extreme deprivation.
“One of the many government programs, which could have helped spread development, and give citizens a sense of belonging and benefits from public resources, is the zonal intervention project, also known as the constituency project.
“At the federal and state level, constituency projects would have been like the famous Marshal Plan of the United States of America with its capacity to bring developmental projects to the people at the grassroots. If the politicians had allowed the intended service delivery envisage through the constituency project to work, such basic things as rural roads, cottage industries, health facilities, recreational spaces and so many more would have been built in communities across the country.
“Unfortunately, what we have seen since Nigeria’s return to civil rule is a constituency project system that has been severely damaged by corruption, inefficiency, and lack of accountability. Projects, which should have been the outcomes of democratic decision-making and robust participation of the people at the grassroots have been so thoroughly abused that they have become opportunities for politicians involved to line their pockets. Consequently, the ordinary citizen has lost hope and has become absolutely alienated from the governance process.
“Given this state of affairs, CHRICED has always called on citizens not to merely complain about the situation, but to think of what to do to get what rightfully belongs to them. This is the worldview, which motivated us to design the project of Promotion of Community-Driven Anti-Corruption Initiatives in Kano State.
“The project is borne out of the belief we have long held in CHRICED that citizens should not be passive onlookers in the governance process. As such, the CHRICED project of Promotion of Community-Driven Anti-Corruption Initiatives in Kano State will work with a vast array of grassroots community actors, anti-corruption institutions, the media and other civic agencies to ensure citizen-led accountability demands target constituency projects.
“This project will galvanize all the relevant actors to proactively engage the constituency project planning, and implementation process. Corruption and distortion of constituency projects start from the point where political actors create opaque systems, which keep citizens in the dark about what they intend to do. As such, before the citizens realize what is going on, shoddy and substandard projects, which do not reflect the needs of the communities are foisted on them. Therefore, prevention of corruption must begin with the needs assessment.
“To this end, CHRICED expresses its readiness to work to support anti-corruption agencies, particularly the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the fight against corruption is rooted in the grassroots, where the citizens bear the brunt of the effects of corruption. We commend the ICPC who already are working in that direction.
“At the end of this project in three years’ time, CHRICED’s goal is to ensure there is a drastic reduction in corruption with respect to the delivery of key social services, particularly constituent projects, in Nigeria’s most populous state. This is an important goal because all around the country, the effects of corruption are glaring for everyone to see. These effects are apparent in the collapse of education, healthcare, and basic social services,” the Executive Director, Ibrahim said.
However, the President, Kano Civil Society Forum, Comrade Ibrahim Waiya expressed the readiness of the Civil Society Organizations to work hand in hand with the group to achieve the desired set objectives while describing the move as a milestone which requires all hands to be on deck to change the narratives.