Grassroot pressure: The way forward to fighting corruption in Nigeria

To encourage grassroot gatekeeping against corrupt practices in various communities in Nigeria, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) established an initiative, the Strengthening Citizens’ Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project.

The SCRAP-C project carried out in Lagos, Borno, Kaduna, Kano/Jigawa, Enugu, Akwa Ibom and Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja aims at introducing a change in the existing social norms that has helped corruption thrive in the country.

The intervention has effectively galvanized citizens engagement in the demand for accountability at grassroot level through community-led social audit coalition.

The project succeeded through partnership with Health Awareness and Rural Girls Education Initiative (HARGEI) in Jigawa State, the Bridge Nigeria Initiative (BNI) in Kano State, Involve Africa in Lagos State, Talent Aids Initiative in Enugu State, Community-Based Initiative for Growth and Sustainability (CBIGS) and Faith Based Organization (Ansar-Udeen Youth Association) in Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

SCRAP-C’s impact on Education

Speaking on his encounter with the initiative, the residents of Shasha in Alimosho Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State said it is unbelievable that projects abandoned for years were completed within six-months with the Social audit initiative.

One of such projects is the construction of Rauf Aregbesola Nursery and Primary School, Shasha, a school where pupils had become accustomed to attending classes in other schools – a makeshift plan – by authorities which killed all hopes for the pupils to return to the abandoned place of learning.

Similarly, as CDD realized the impact of the needless abandonment of the school on pupil retention and enrollment considering the unappealing number of out-of-school children, the CDD through series of engagements with members of the Shasha Community Development Association (CDA), the Shasha Youth Council (SYC) and the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the school advocated for immediate 100% completion of the project. 

Also, in Shasha, members of the community including the Baale – the head of the clan adopted the social audit as a tool for demanding accountability from leaders and contractors.

The Baale said it was interesting seeing you people champion the anti-corruption project successfully in Shasha.

I didn’t believe this approach will work at first, but, seeing young people championing anti-corruption project, I was shocked to see contractors go back to site and today the school is now completed,” Baale told CDD team during one of their visits.

In Kano State, Sustainable Community Platform (SCP) was established as a grassroot accountability initiative where members of the platform worked with BNI in Kibiya Local Government Area (LGA) to advocate and oversee the implementation of UBEC supported projects.

With the initiative, the contractor of an abandoned Arabic Junior Secondary School in area was mobilized alongside his engineers to complete the construction of the school.

In Tudun Wada area of Kano State, the BNI is working with community leaders, established SCP as a coordinating platform for social audit engagement.

CDD’s intervention prompted the SUBEB chairman in the state to compel the contractor of the project to provide N22.5 million worth of furniture – which was never accounted for – to NYSC Special Primary School.

In turn, the SUBEB chairman has also agreed to renovate the entire building and change the roofing sheets using the retention money of the contractor that was left with the board.

SCRAP-C’s Impact on Health

The CDD through the our downstream partner, HARGEI, acknowledging the implication of maternal and child mortality rate carried out an investigation on a monthly allocation of N1.75 million by the Jigawa state government to fight maternal and child mortality.

The state government, CDD finding showed releases this fund to ten (10) Primary HealthCare Centres (PHCs) including Taura Community Primary Health Care (PHC) to provide free medical services, including access to drugs, to pregnant women, chidlren under the age of five years and victims of accident.

CDD findings however showed that these category of persons were unable to access the services due to corruption and mismanagement of the resources. 

Through HARGEI, the centre’s intervention resulted to the establishment of a Community Monitoring Team (CMT) which comprises of the facility management, members of the Facility Health Committee (FHC), and leaders of Taura communit to  ensure compliance through monthly review of the Out-Patient Department (OPD) register and patients’ files with the Antenatal Care (ANC) Unit.

The initiative suceesfully saw to it that those expected to benefit from the free services and drug deliveries are the actual beneficiaries.

The new practice now is that any woman who claim to be pregnant must present ANC card before accessing Antenatal routine drugs and related services at OPD. In the absence of ANC card, OPD would have to conduct a pregnancy test on the women before providing her with free drugs and related services for the pregnant women to be heathy.

Also, in September 2019, the chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council approved the sum of a million Naira (N1m) for the completion of the PHC.

In this case, C-BIGS have continued to engage local authorities to ensure release of more funds to fully complete the PHC.

With the successes recorded so far, social audit intervention has proven to be a useful tool to demand for accountability at grassroot level. The successes recorded is a confirmation that collective locally driven actions can challenge any misconception that impedes the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Speaking on the accomplished projects, the director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, said the success of the initiative shows that quality of democracy the citizenry can achieve depends on the citizens will demand accountability from public office holders.

Hassan said when there is an informed citizenry, democracy and development will be surely delivered to the people.

She said: “Citizens should be holding government to account, we know that governance will definitely be better, the ‘sitdon dey look’ game which we are so used to should be discarded by Nigerians.”

Hassan said the centre will continue to galvanize citizens from all the 774 local government areas of Nigeria to hold the government accountable and have the expected delivery of governance every Nigerian deserves.

“We all deserve a better Nigeria and we all must work hard to achieve the Nigeria of our dreams,” Hassan concluded.