Community members from the six area council of the FCT, Abaji, , Bwari, Kuje, Kwali and Gwagwalada, Abuja Municipal Area Council-AMAC recounted with great enthusiasms how they are influencing local government performances in their respective area councils. Stories of road constructions, improved power supply, provision of learning materials in school, scholarships for community members, accessing the Community Social Development Program (CSDP) for bridge construction, and many others, were reeled out during the SAY NO Campaign review meeting of Community Anti-corruption Working Groups (CAWG) in Abuja.
Earlier in March, this year 2019, the SAY NO Campaign team engaged community members in the 6 area councils of the FCT, with support from the MacArthur Foundation, on their role in combating corruption in their local communities, emphasizing the need for popular participation in local governance; making demands and carrying out oversight activities in order to improve governance and promote transparency and accountability at local government levels. The outcome of that meeting saw the inauguration of some volunteer community members including district heads and area council staff, to pioneer anti-corruption activities in their various communities.
After organizing a capacity building workshop on social accountability tools and advocacy strategies for these set of volunteers, some of them immediately sprang to action, contacting their Councillors and local government chairmen, requesting for the provision of amenities that will directly impact the lives of their community members. Within seven months, with active engagement and monitoring, the impact of these engagements with their authorities have been felt in different area, like the education sector, where learning materials were supplied for primary school students in Kuje area council. For the Abaji Area council, the Rimba Agbaji road which has been long abandoned since 2014, despite its continuous reoccurrence in budget, is been prioritized; this volunteer group has also nudged their local government chairman to donate one million naira for their community to meet the eligibility requirement for accessing Community Social Development Program- (CSDP) funds, as a result, the sum of nine million naira was disbursed to the area council, which is currently been utilized to construct a pedestrian bridge in their community.
Bwari Area council volunteers were excited to report that what could have been a broad-day robbery of community members by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company- AEDC officials in their area council was averted due to their intervention and engagement with the management of the AEDC in Bwari. He recalled how the AEDC officials had illegally tasked community members to contribute over 400 thousand naira to step-down a transformer, which a community member had donated to the community, over 6 years ago. The group met the management of the AEDC office in Bwari to challenge their request, which they interpreted as an outright demand for bribe and an abuse of office. Subsequently, the management cowed in, penned down the first week of December as the date the office will step-down the transformer for use.
These groups of volunteers are not done yet! They have pledged to continue engaging beyond SAYNO campaign guidance and to enlist other community members to become active participants in demanding accountability from their political representatives as well as service providers. Financial constraint and other challenges have failed to deter them from actively monitoring government performances; in fact, they have become more resolute in their decision to drive a need-specific budget, confront outright bribery and extortion in public offices, and initiate responsible governance in their locality.
While commending SAY NO Campaign for the awareness and the initiative of establishing the community networks, they have decided to leverage the network and expand their activities to seek accountability from the Federal Capital Development Authority- FCDA on abandoned projects littered in the FCT, beginning with schools, library and hospitals. There is no doubt that this group has become the breadth of fresh-air needed in the anti corruption citizen ownership agenda of the SAY NO campaign initiative.