Thursday, 21 November 2019

If people don't participate, then governance is not impacting on the people —Kebetkache

Participants at the advocacy event in Calabar, Cross River State 
21 November 2019 

People participation have been identified as cardinal in governance, absence of which brings the process of governance into question NEGROIDHAVEN has garnered. 

This point was brought to the fore Wednesday by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre in Calabar, Cross River capital city during an advocacy meeting with government officials, women groups and other stakeholders on challenges affecting rural development. 

According to Mrs Emem Okon, the executive director and founder of the group, people must be seen to contribute to the process of design, making and implementation of public policies, programmes and projects respectively. 

Her words, 'Governance is for the people. If people don't participate in governance then governance is not impacting on the people. Assuming that ministries can just formulate budget without community input, as we discussed earlier, engaging with the traditional ruler, one person does not represent the opinions of every other member of the community. Different groups make up a community: we have the youths, we have the women, we have the physically challenged, we have people with diverse kinds of needs. 
Emem Okon addressing the audience 

Emem Okon fielding question from the press 

Participants at the events listening to the facilitation, reports etc 

'These people must contribute to their own development, by coming up with those things that they can identify; it makes development meaningful. If those things are not there the way they want it, development may not be mean anything to them. 

'So, what we are doing with this project is facilitating that process, empowering the people, to recognise that they have the right, power to participate in governance; most people mistake participation in governance to only voting during election, it doesn't stop there. It has to really continue that to ensure that the duty bearers, people who have the responsibility actually take the needs, interests, concerns of community members into consideration when they are making policies, when they are designing programmes and when they are actually implementing projects.'

She further noted that at least, 800 women from different local communities in Cross River State have been trained between 2016 and 2019 by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria on specific skills and how to highlight the social challenges in their communities as they impact against the locales, especially women groups. 

Mrs Okon, executive director and founder of Kebetkache said that the essence was to equip them with the knowledge that will help them to promote community needs for inclusion in state budgets and planning, and so that the information they would pass would help government track such challenges. 

"We started the training in 2016 and have trained a little over 800 women on community needs assessments so that they can know how to participate in development process by the state government and sustain such engagement with a view to influencing inclusion in their budgetary planning. We expect them to use the skills imparted to highlight their social plights", she said.

Okon also added that they are not out to confront government bit to engage ensure that the voices of the community folks are not only heard but they themselves activate their power. 

Some of the women groups such as the Abi LGA, Ikom womem group, Bekwara Women Associated, as well as Peace-Point organisation, Itigidi Women Development group reeled out array of challenges militating against them.  

Speaking on their behalf, Mrs Victoria Ukpong said their field tours revealed that there have been massive neglects and abandonment of projects earlier initiated by government for the good of the people even though funds were released to the contractors. 

Henry Ushie, program director of Oxfam Nigeria encouraged local women to continually engage government officials in view of the dire needs for development of the rural community, saying his group not only gives financing supports but campaigns against inequality amongst other tasks. 

Ushie spoke against locals being docile in the face of neglect and biting socioeconomic realities, and charged the women to keep tab with development and advise authorities.

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