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How accountability, monitoring ‘ll reduce abandoned projects – PPDC

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has said that a detailed accountability and monitoring of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and National Primary…

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has said that a detailed accountability and monitoring of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) projects in the country would greatly reduce the spate of abandoned projects across the nation.

The Programme Officer, PPDC, Onyekachi Chukwu, said this during a round table talk with UBEC and NPHCDA stakeholders in Abuja.

According to him, the meeting was to discuss PPDC’s project monitoring reports and findings on various projects of UBEC and NPHCDA that were monitored across 12 states, and to ensure that the projects are implemented in line with contract specifications.

He said that it was also to call the attention of relevant stakeholders where necessary and to also ensure that the projects are beneficial and valuable to the communities involved.

Onyekachi said that after tracking the projects through their community-based monitors (CBM) across the 12 states, it was discovered that over 10 projects each of both UBEC and NPHCDA had been abandoned.

He also said that it is only when these projects are properly monitored and accounted for that the level of abandonment would be considerably reduced.

“In the year 2020, we deployed Community Based Monitors (CBM) to monitor UBEC and Primary Health Care (PHC) projects which are schools and primary health centres. The reason for this is to give the general public access to public procurement information so that people can know the kind of projects that have been awarded to their communities.

“It is not just limited to UBEC and PHC, it is across all the public institutions. Through our CBM, it was discovered that more than 10 projects each of both UBEC and NPHCDA had not been completed but left abandoned for a long time,” Chukwu said.

He noted that some had not been ‘touched’ for a period of over five years as some of these projects had either been left half way done as far back as 2015 or not even started in the first place.

He added that there were multiple situations of awarded contracts not found in said communities or around the local government area while some have dilapidated after completion without use while awaiting commissioning.

He said, “They are all in sorry states where the government and beneficiary community lose out completely because it has become a situation of money spent without result. An example of this is a N2m awarded PHC contract in Plateau, which has been awarded since the year 2016. After thorough investigation round the local government and community involved, the project could not be found, it wasn’t there.

“The only way such can be prevented or the rate considerably reduced in the future, is if there is proper accountability and monitoring of such projects by the relevant stakeholders because we discovered in some unique cases that the project, which was not completed, might be the only primary health care centre available in the whole community. The full report of this is available on the Budeshi portal.”

According to Onyekachi, the reason for the monitoring is to ensure that the nation’s resources are properly utilised, to provide feedbacks to the reference stakeholders and to confirm if the services were actually provided to serve the intending beneficiaries.

He said that in some cases, some of these projects don’t have any direct impact on such communities, thus the PPDC called stakeholders from the affected agencies for the roundtable talk in order to exchange ideas on how these projects can be completed and get them opened for usage, so that members of these communities can start reaping their benefits directly.

Also, in cases where it was discovered that funds were mismanaged, or the contractors involved didn’t do what they were supposed to do, they can be called to go back and complete the work or refund the money to the government because these communities in question do not have hospitals and the nearest available ones are actually very far away. As a result, the right steps have to be taken to make things easier and more comfortable for them.

Responding, the representative of NPHCDA, Mr. Ayodeji John, said that the agency was already working on putting a stop to the dilapidation of already completed PHC projects across the nation.

He said, “The NPHCDA is working on putting a stop to the dilapidation of completed PHC projects across the nation by making sure that instead of waiting for commissioning of such projects, which involves a lot of stakeholders, requires much funding and takes longer time to accomplish, once the projects are completed, they are immediately handed over to the relevant officials and leaders of the communities involved for immediate use.”

On his part, the assistant director, Physical Planning Department, UBEC, Arc. Nura Ibrahim, while responding to the PPDC report, said that some of the abandoned projects were not completed due to insufficient funds.

Ibrahim said, “Though funds were released by the government and members of the National Assembly for such projects, they were not enough for the completion of the projects. And to avoid a situation in which the funds would have to be returned if not used, the contracts of such projects are awarded and commenced with the hope that the remaining funds required would be made available but, in many cases, that never happened. This is what has led to such projects being abandoned due to inadequate funds.