Monday, December 18, 2017 3:22 pm
Grassroots leaders in Ikole Local Government Area (LGA) of Ekiti state are working on a Community Development Master Plan (CDMP) towards a more transparent, holistic, coordinated and cost-effective development of communities in the area.
At a planning meeting convened in Ado Ekiti by Community Life Project (CLP) with sponsorship from Ford Foundation, the organisers say this will ensure “Effective and efficient utilisation of local resources to meet the real needs of the people”.
It is also aimed at “Improved citizen participation in decision-making on public resource management” and will promote “Improved capacity and competence within the government and local communities for sustained partnerships on open budgeting and medium-term development planning”.
“It is important to ensure that the wealth of the country goes around effectively so that people can survive”, says Executive Director of CLP, Mrs Ngozi Iwere.
“We all have food and cash crops in our respective communities but the people who produce them are hungry. The big multinationals like Cadbury are making billions but our people who produce cocoa are living in penury. The rich control 80 per cent of the wealth everywhere. This is not sustainable. The kind of war that we are having these days, are from disgruntled people”, she says.
The Community Development Action Plan is a process through which community members come together to decide how to address their common community development issues. It describes what the community wants to accomplish, what activities are required during a specified period and what resources (money, human and materials) are needed for it to be successful. The CDMP is a framework for implementing the activities that are decided by the community itself.
The benefits of the CDMP include ensuring effective community development activities and active participation of community people and accountability at the LGA level. It is also to ensure that the beneficiaries are happy and feel a part of the process of development in their area. It is also intended to ensure that the voice of the people is heard in decision making. It is designed to ensure that “resources are pooled together for reliability, effectiveness and sustainability” of the projects.
This is to ensure active participation of the people in the development of the LGA. It is also meant to strike a chord with other stakeholders in the community for holistic development. It is also expected to do a mapping of facilities and services in the communities such as roads, schools, hospitals, boreholes, sanitary situation, drainage blockage, unemployment rate etc while ensuring that the real needs of the people as articulated are implemented in the budget
The planning meeting with 20 key stakeholders which was aimed at securing their commitment and buy-in, will be followed by a “Baseline Research” on the existing community resources and assets. A “High-Profile Validation Workshop for State and Local Government Officials and other stakeholders”, will later be held to present the outcome of the research.
It will also involve “Inclusive and Open Budgeting” in Ikole Local Government of Ekiti State that will encompass the Ikole Community Development Plan and the development of a 3-year Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) that will inform the planning of the annual budgets. It will also see the development of a website for the Local Government and the “High-Profile Launch of the Community Development Action Plan” to be rounded up by a “Review Meeting”.
Explaining why Ikole was chosen for a pilot project, Iwere says, “We used to have the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) developed under the Prof Adebayo Adedeji led Economic Commission of Africa (ECA). We had our National Development and Rolling Plans but it appears these days we just roll out our budgets without any plans. So we are trying to go back to the basics to ensure that we match our resources with the genuine needs of the people. We are trying to start here to make it a show piece”.
Mr Ayoposi Anjola, former leader of the Legislative Council, Ikole LG says it is heart warming to be part of “a process to reverse a trend in which projects were given to the community on the basis of what the officials want and not what the people want”. “When it comes to citing projects, even some of the communities have taboos that negate this”, says Anjola who is also secretary, Odo Ayedun Community Development Association.
Mr Akin Ologuntoye, community leader, Igbono Ekiti who was particularly miffed at the idea of putting the local government officials through the grill belief this may attract some backlash. “What entitles us to go to the LG officials and ask probing questions? Won’t they see us as some interlopers? How can we be empowered to do so?”, he quips.
Leye Fagbemi, community leader, Ipao Ekiti says, “Most times, we talk about short term. It is gladdening that we are now talking about long term”. We are always talking of what we’ll do today instead of aligning ourselves with other countries that are planning for 20, 30 and 50 years”
Fagbemi who is also a researcher, says, “If you don’t plan, you are planning to fail. When you spend some time to plan, you are getting somewhere”. He says the country got it right after independence when it embarked on development plans but expressed regret that this was later abandoned, noting that Ikole LG is very lucky to be selected for the pilot project.
“We should be able to fashion out a policy in terms of targets and costing and avoid the policy summersault weaved on political calculations. It is important we make government accountable at the local level”, he says.
But Iwere says what has been lacking in Nigeria has been “active citizen action” to hold government accountable as there are enough laws like Freedom of Information Act, the Public Procurement Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act which guarantee “open governance”. “We are already empowered by these laws to ask questions. The failure of government is the failure of the citizens to put the government on the grill”.
Citing the success of the CLP’s voters’ education programme and its peculiar method of monitoring elections using grassroots people, Iwere says “We are ready to vigorously carry this project through. We are committed to it that this is done”. “We also need to change the mindsets about public officials, they are not demy gods. The people should be able to engage them”.
Communities in Ikole LGA that will benefit from this master plan include, Isaba, Ara, Asin, Aiyebode, Itapaji, Ijesa Isu, and Odo Oro. Others include Oke Ayedun, Odo Ayedun, Iyemero, Temidire, Oke Ado, Ipao, Ikoyi, Ijebu, Irele and Igbono