Why is FG Establishing Unsustainable Projects everywhere?
The Nigerian government(s), over the past seven years have completed over eight overhead water tank projects in my community of Delta State. As at today, only about two of these boreholes are functional and there is a high possibility that in a year time, none of the boreholes will work at all and many more will be awarded! Most of them usually stop functioning after few months of commissioning. The same story is repeated in most communities of Nigeria.
These projects were executed and funded by mostly various interventionist arms of the federal governments (Federal Ministries, NDDC, MDGs, etc). In some other cases where state government funds, we have DESOPADEC, State ministries, etc). These projects cost hundreds of millions of Naira and are covered in our budgets.
Yet, the projects have all failed to fulfill their purposes of providing portable water to the community. Why do these projects fail and how can we correct this trend?
First, in an ideal sense of how federalism works, the federal and state governments have no business drilling borehole for a community anywhere in Nigeria. Every community is suppose to have one central water system (not eight or more), either initially funded by the state or local govt but jointly managed by the community and the government. This water project is suppose to also be a source of revenue generation for the community and local government. Second, the federal and state govt (the people who award these project contracts) have two major aims in mind when siting the project; to fulfill budget requirement and to steal through the process. They do not look at the long run sustainability of the project. They do not put in place mechanisms to ensure that the projects are sustained. All they are after is to execute the project, get their contract kickbacks and document it in the statistics that water has been provided in a community and then move to the next project.. That’s all. Politicians cannot steal without awarding contracts for projects. In Nigeria, every project serves two purposes.
What then is the solution?
First, our system needs to be restructured so as to allow communities have certain basic fiscal responsibilities such that they can tax themselves, drill their own central water system, manage it themselves, and also manage their own public basic schools and and do those basic little things that affect them at the community level.
Communities need to be involved in the business of governance. They need to have a sense of ownership and participation in every project sited in their communities.That is the best way to sustain these projects. They become responsible for the success or failure of the projects.
Community participation in the business of governance is the foundation of #TrueFiscalFederalism. We need to #RestructureNigeria and give communities certain fiscal responsibilities…