This report contains findings of budget monitors who were on the field for a period of one week examining projects allocated funds in the 2015 budget of Rivers state. The budget monitoring team consisted of a community volunteer and three others; as well as a member of staff of Social Action.
Monitoring was carried out on randomly selected projects from the sectors of education, health and food sufficiency. Interviews were routinely conducted with anticipated beneficiaries of budget lines including community members and staff of schools and health centres. Where possible, officials of the ministries responsible for these projects were contacted for additional information.
Social Action’s budget advocacy activities are aimed at calling attention to the need for citizens to get actively involved in the processes of fiscal governance. Evidence indicates that where this is the case, the performance of governments have significantly improved.
Plans have been concluded by the Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform and a group of volunteers to visit all Primary Schools in 5 Local government areas in Rivers state. The research visits are aimed at understanding the extent and spread of the Rivers state model primary school scheme. The scheme involves the construction of model primary schools each fitted with libraries, crèches, sick bays, computer rooms, school auditoriums, spacious classrooms, sports fields, play pens, power generating sets, and internet connectivity. While the scheme has been applauded by many, there are however concerns that its applicability is mostly in urban areas, while the rural areas are mostly unattended; and that the key facilities are never in use.
After a three week long field research by the Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform and its volunteers into the state of primary education in Rivers state, findings have been presented to the state Commissioner of Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi. The research was aimed at understanding the impact of recent government reforms in the sector of primary education and its functionality and applicability. 20 researchers visited all primary schools in, Port Harcourt City, Bonny, Oyigbo, Degema and Ahaoda West local government areas, conducted interviews with teachers and parents, captured GPS locations of all primary schools and collected other relevant data including number of pupils and enrolment.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, we- the Niger Delta Anti-Corruption Network and the Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform- are honoured that you found time to attend this brief but very timely Press Conference.
We are deeply concerned that the Rivers State government is yet to publicly make available copies of the 2015 budget of the state. At various times, our organizations have made requests to the relevant government agencies for electronic or hard copies of the document, all to no avail. On more than one occasion, the response has been that the document is not yet ready. If this is the case, one then wonders what it was that the State House of Assembly passed into Law as the 2015 Appropriation.