By Benjamin Jimmy
Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), has raised an alarm over a hospital project in Ikot Akpa Ntuk, Ukanafun Local Government Area that has been abandoned 16 years after work had commenced.
The project, which started in 2006 was however abandoned despite over N600million provided in the budget for the project between the year and 2021.
Interacting with indigenes of Ukanafun during a town hall meeting as part of its public accountability project known as “ Udeme” recently, the organization decried the many years of abandonment that the hospital project has suffered and urged the people to engage the state government and their representatives for the project to be completed and put to use.
The NGO further lamented that despite non-availability of an alternative hospital in the local government area that can attend to the healthcare needs of the people, the project has remained abandoned 16 years after its commencement, a situation it bemoaned the state government for lacking the culture of continuity.
Expounding on the “Udeme” project which the NGO said was an enlightenment programme aimed at increasing and strengthening citizens’ participation in public accountability, access to governments’ budgets and empowering them to seek accountability by tracking and monitoring implementation of government projects in their communities, the Head of Communications, Asari Ndem, said it has become imperative for serious engagements of MDAs on the facility and other projects provided for, in the budgets.
“ I don’t think I need to convince anybody here why they should get involved in public accountability. Reasons being that, when we take a good look at our environment, we just need to ask questions like: do I have access to good roads, proper health care and electricity?”
Ndem opined that one of ways through which projects assigned to the people can be implemented is for the communities to be effectively involved in ensuring that they follow through, with a view to changing the culture of projects abandonment which, according to her, has negatively impacted on the lives of the citizenry.
Mr. Peace Edem of Youth For Change Initiative (YOFCI), a non-governmental organization, while speaking on the role of the media, civil society organizations and citizens in social accountability, urged citizens to refrain from their nonchalant attitude towards projects cited in their communities.
He regretted that indifference usually shown by most communities towards projects in their areas has contributed to a significant number of projects left uncompleted.
“Citizens should not sit on the fence, but they should put government to work. The worrisome reason we came to Ukanafun is the hospital project. The local government has no medical facility that is functional. That is why we came here to discuss with the stakeholders, CSOs, the media, as well as the citizens so that they can rise up and work together and demand accountability”.
Other resource persons who were at the town hall meeting spoke on: “The Role of Community Leaders, Religious and Traditional Rulers in Social Accountability” and “Understanding Public Procurement and Budgeting”.
The resource persons called on the leaders at all levels to be more involved in asking questions and following up projects to eliminate the culture of abandoning projects and worsening the citizens’ problems.
Representatives of National Orientation Agency (NOA), media and the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who gave their contributions on ways to improve citizens’ participation in public accountability, said this is the only way projects can be started and completed as scheduled.
The NGO later paid a visit to the Paramount Ruler of Ukanafun as part of its sensitization programme to further awaken the interest of the traditional institution.