Prince Tonye Princewill, a PDP Chieftain has received the report of a socio-economic baseline survey of the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State from a World Bank Consultancy Firm, International Development Consultancy (IDC) Limited based in United Kingdom that will positively affect the economic and political fortunes of the State.
Mr. Princewill who received the bulky documents on April 29, 2013 in a crowded press event in his Port Harcourt residence commended Ms Ally Bedford and her Team for a very rich report and assured her that the document will go a long way in assisting him and his team to know the problems and needs of all the communities in Rivers State and how to address them if he is given the opportunity to serve the State.
Prince Tonye Princewill told the audience that he has submitted the report to Governor Amaechi, President Jonathan and some very few stakeholders for their study and perusal and to have an idea of some of the challenges facing the State.
Ally Bedford the Chief Researcher is the MD of IDC Limited. A graduate of the University of Ibadan and the University of London's School of Oriental & African Studies, Ms Bedford has worked generally all over Africa, but focusing for many years in Nigeria. She has undertaken many projects within the Niger Delta over the years and in particular, Rivers State under the auspices of the UK's DFID. She found the undertaking of the baseline survey report in the 23 LGAs with a remit of no holds barred, a refreshing experience and hopes it would assist in improving good governance in Rivers State.
The research team asked 472 questions and received over 200,000 responses of which 19,800 were comments, clarifications and suggestions. It lasted from October to December 2012 and gathered views from the grassroots, civil society, business groups, pressure groups and a few MDAs. Essentially the data gathered during the survey revealed:
· The continuing poor delivery of service, corruptive practices and frustration of people despite the substantial investments in these areas over the last twenty years.
· The anticipated result of lack of investment in the rural areas, most specifically the thousands affected by unemployment and underemployment.
· The damaging impact of the oil industry on both waterways and land and how this prevents the exercise of traditional livelihoods in farming and fishing.
In an online press release signed by Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, PPA Media Consultant explained some of the revelations in the report as follows:
It importantly revealed that the current Governor Amaechi’s administration has made improvements in some areas in some Local Government Areas. The results demonstrate that the impact of programmes is uneven and that vast majority of the people are precluded from enjoying ‘Free Education and Health’, ‘Model Schools’ and ‘Improved Infrastructure’ that would encourage economic growth. At worst, it exposes how even the most positive programmes can be turned into rent-seeking opportunities by corrupt officials. One key example provided is the ‘Local Content’ programme, which has been hijacked into ‘job racketeering’ where the ‘cost to get a job’ outweighs the benefits of ‘having a job’.
The exercise also revealed the poor work ethic of many civil and public servants including the police in the delivery of their duties. It gives examples of how this has impacted the ordinary person, including non-attendance at work, the dearth of quality in delivery, nepotism and bribery. There is little trust in the police force that is deemed to be undermanned, under-equipped and supposedly demand petrol money before investigating any alleged crime.
There was a definite improvement in peace and security; some attributed this to Government troops and others to vigilante groups. Some even requested that vigilantes were formalised and their welfare taken over by the State despite they are rumoured to be the perpetrators of much of the crime and oil bunkering.
There was a clear demand from the grassroots respondents for swift judicial action against corrupt officials and contractors that have misappropriated funds allocated to development. There was also a demand for monitoring all government initiatives and projects to ensure their intended full implementation. Further there were calls for transparency of monies allocated to their LGAs.
The report revealed that although there is increased political awareness, there is disillusionment of politicians generally, most respondents citing empty promises made by candidates during election campaigns and announcing grand plans during office that never get implemented on the ground. They believed firmly there should be consultation before making plans. In some areas there is palpable anger and resentment to politicians who believe their remit is focussed on the development of the state capital Port Harcourt, when the fund to make such investment comes from ‘their backyard’. There is particular anger against the monorail.
The data confirmed that 80% of people in the State have heard of Prince Tonye Princewill due to his good works in flood relief, scholarships for the talented and as the ‘Man with the Golden Heart’. It also revealed that Princewill is a ‘listening candidate’.
However, as the results reveal, the electorate are expecting more than ‘listening’ and ‘electioneering’ pronouncements, as they want action and change from the current status quo. This change would include in governance, national and international corporations and non-government organisations, donor countries, local technical colleges and universities along with auditors and lawyers, etc. Clearly politics has to be done differently.
It would be recalled that Prince Tonye Princewill had in September 2012, commissioned International Development Consultancy firm to conduct a survey of the perceptions of the people of Rivers State about governance and their expectations from government in the State. The survey was to reveal the people’s priorities, their opinion on ‘what works’ in the State and their recommendations on what could ‘work better’ with suggestions for change.
The consultancy group that is known as IDC Limited operates out of the United Kingdom and they are led by a world renowned researcher – Ms Ally Bedford