Joining The Strong Voices For Completion Of Abandoned Projects In Imo
When history is asleep, it is memory that wakes it up but when memory itself falls into stupor, we invoke remembrance to kick it into active consciousness. It is human to remember, it also falls within the province of human to forget. That is why we need to draw a distinct line between those who forget to remember and those who remember to forget.
Therefore, telling the people, especially stakeholders of Imo State to look the other way, backing the wall of abandoned projects scattered across the 27 local government areas of the state, will be subjecting their sensibilities to bout of amnesia, God forbid!
Until incumbent governments see the economic need to begin to complete all abandoned projects across the country, the issues of insecurity, unemployment and other social vices will thrive. Much as we want to fight the societal ills, the increasing rate of abandoned projects must be fought to standstill.
Investigation has showed that about 12,000 capital projects have been left uncompleted, thereby denying the beneficiaries the gains the completed projects would have been provided. We do not need more of these abandoned projects. Let enough be enough.
There is need to understand that the lack of completion of some capital projects is traceable to either the adequate implementation on the budget or when the leaders are spending based on their thinking. I have said often in my write-ups that there is organic link between the implementation of the budget and the lack of provision of basic necessities of life, which is food, shelter and clothing.
Once the items in the budget of a particular year are not being implemented, there is the tendency that abandoned projects will be seen. If the governments continue to tie the common resources of the people to the foundation of capital projects that are not completed, they must be ready to contend or rather live within the neighborhood as it were, of unemployment, armed robbery, kidnapping, insurgency, poverty.
In the words of the Executive Director of Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDESOR, Emeka Ononamadu, ‘that government without citizens participation is private business at public expense’. Once the citizens have developed the capacity and literacy to monitor the budget, they can properly evaluate the way the elected representatives manage public resources. This evaluation will enable them to follow up projects because they have access to the budget and can understand the contents and know when a project is said to be completed.
During the media training on economic literacy and budget reporting organized by CCIDESOR under the funding of SACE/USAID/PIND at the Freedom Hall of his office. He noted that the Journalists must understand the way budget works, especially that the budget trust/direction must affect the beneficiaries. For example, in Imo state, where we have the rescue budget. This means that every step the government takes, must gear towards making sure that Imolites benefit from the budget, especially ensuring that abandoned projects are completed.
The government of Imo State would score a political capital goal once it veers off the usual culture of abandoning projects and begin to complete with quality the avalanche of capital projects left uncompleted by previous government.
The state government must be commended here for completing some projects, for example the over head bridge at Ugwu Orji, Owerri is now being completed by the rescue government. The rescue can do more by ensuring that the pre-cast 305 class room block and the 27 new general hospitals in the state are completed and put to use for Imolites. I bet that once the government of the day completes some of the abandoned projects, the gains will be recorded in the name of the present government.
I know that the Imo Government can do this, it has done it in the areas of education, infrastructural development, changing the face of the state with state of the art edifices that adorn the city and ensuring that Imo becomes the hub for investment. I plead with the government to begin to move into the communities and start seeing to the completion of the projects.
Am delighted that the state government is building storey buildings for primary school pupils. The idea is that the pupil will be excited that he/she will have an opportunity to use a storey building, because some of them may not have that chance. That is a motivation and to me that motivation has paid off. But the buildings must be strongly built and furnished with all the classroom symbols. Let me say this, the symbols in the classrooms must add value by showing reward for hardwork and punishment for wrong behaviors. Sorry for deviating.
I call on the state government to ensure that the backlogs of abandoned projects caused by past administrations are cleared as the applause will be accorded it. The rate of abandoned projects in the state has become so worrisome that the time to begin to complete them is now that we have the rescue mission on course
Back to our issues, Oh! Somebody said am right because the completion will add educational value to the students vis-à-vis the aesthetics of the building. If the building is in a bad shape, the students will feel uncomfortable remembering he/she is going to school but will be eager to rush to the school once the school building looks alluring and attractive. The H.C.M and L.C.M of this discourse is that the government will take the glory, ours as change agent is to proffer ideas and x-ray areas of attention.
Thanks to the SACE project around Health and Education in Imo State, a major state in the southeast zone. It is major because Imo state which is located at the center of the zone, has 27 local government areas and has one of the highest population.
The Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement, SACE project in Imo State with support from United States Agency for International Development, USAID and Partnership Initiative for NigerDelta Development, PIND, had about 121 capital projects mapped by 129 partners across six local governments of Obowo, Ahiazu Mbaise, Isiala Mbano, Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta and Ngor Okpala spanning through the three senatorial zones of the State around Health and Education.
The project line was taken from 2010-2014, where about 121 capital projects were mapped. Out of the 121 capital projects, 32 were completed without quality, 51 projects were ongoing/uncompleted, while 34 projects were abandoned. 4 projects were not identified nor started.
The SACE project being coordinated by Emeka Ononamadu of CCIDESOR has helped in bringing some abandoned projects to completion. The project has continued to call on governments to ensure that old projects are completed before new ones are started. This will stop the era of waste, fraud and abuse of public resources by leaders.
Completing old projects by building them up in the 2016 budget will stop the use of more lands that could be used in agricultural purposes, since when they are completed, they will serve the purposes for which they were started in the first place. Any government that does this would have scored a political capital goal that generation next to come will remember. The southeast region is the lowest in terms of public spending since their annual budget has been the lowest among all the six regions in Nigeria. This means that if the spate of abandoned projects continues, the region will suffer, especially Imo State more economic hardship.
Once the old projects are completed with quality, leaders will be free from the chains of shame, unnecessary anxiety and unjust actions. The essence of political leadership which is provision of security, peace, development, welfare, and happiness of the people would have been achieved. It attracts people’s confidence and admiration to leaders.
Completion of projects will serve as a stepping-stone to raising or getting more funds from sources: government, donors, the masses, voluntary donations, and others. The unemployment ravaging the country would have been fought. No society can be said to be thriving whose budget are not open and accessible as the old projects are not completed.
There is need for sincerity to be restored to the corridors of power in line with accountability, transparency and good governance on the part of our leaders. This can be done once every effort of government, especially in this 2016 budgeting is geared towards the completion of old projects before embarking on new ones.
We need to join with the voices of those who demand that abandoned capital projects be completed. SACE through CCIDESOR has glued the voices of the Bishops, NUJ, NMA, Editors, Traditional Rulers to ensure that all uncompleted projects in the state are completed with quality.
Chigozie Uzosike (JP), Development Journalist writes from Owerri, 07037723606