Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Edo State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR) has received accolades from stakeholders and Civil Society Organisations in the state for its intervention in infrastructure development across the state.
The accolade came when the Project Coordinator, Mr. Toju Onaiwu disclosed that since inception, the agency has constructed over 200 category ‘C’ roads across the state that are still serviceable and motorable till date.
Addressing participants at a stakeholders/CSOs and SEEFOR parley, Onaiwu, who was represented by the Project Accountant, Henry Odiase, said the SEEFOR project initiative is essentially an idea conceived by the World Bank in partnership with Nigerian governments for direct intervention in human capital development and empowerment in the Niger Delta region for which Edo state became one of the beneficiaries.
Onaiwu told the gathering various areas the project has intervened since inception in Edo state, which ranged from, human capital development and empowerment, information technology development (ICT), feeder or category C road and rehabilitation, construction and maintenance of drains, provision and supply of instructional materials to schools where necessary, provision and supply of ICT equipment to government agencies and ministries where necessary.
He said, whereas the project’s scope of work so far was wide and far reaching but the aspect that had been popular with the people has been road construction and maintenance, which, to him was understandable since this was the area that had direct bearing on their lives.
On the misconception about SEEFOR intervention in road projects, he said their involvement was determined by the mandate of the World Bank and other supervising agencies manual, which is not only their operational guide but also limited by the fund available at a particular time.
On mode of selection of road projects for intervention, he said, “this is determined by written request from leaders of communities and due assessment and evaluation of the request by the technical and engineering department to ascertain if the request falls within the scope of work of the agency since by their mandate, they cannot embark on more than 1km road construction.”
On supervision and monitoring of projects, Idiase explained that the project office has seasoned staff manning the engineering department who through strict supervision ensured that the agency’s core mandate was fully realised in projects’ execution and delivery.
According to him, “each stage of a project must be completed and certified by their Engineering department, before payments are made. This policy, which is a strategic aspect and requirement in the agency’s operational strategy, has helped to ensure that there is no abandoned project since the inception of our operation.”
He further expressed surprise at the reluctance of non-governmental organisations to come forward and participate in the third-party monitoring opportunity, which the agency often advertises, and thereafter drew participants’ attention to the current advertisement calling for application from interested NGOs.
He advised interested participants to take advantage of this opportunity so that those successful would join in monitoring their projects for optimal delivery.
However, leader of the CSOs, Rev. Olu Martins, expressed his reservation on the seeming reluctance of the agency to open up so that the public would be abreast with their operation, which would help arrest the misconceptions and innuendoes often carried by members of the public regarding their work model.
According to him, members of the public are of the view that SEEFOR should carry out construction of trunk A road and embark on other gigantic projects in the state.
Other speakers at the interactive session included Onome, Babatunde, Ogbidi, and Sylvester Okpamen, who hailed the stakeholders’ interactive initiative by the SEEFOR project team but wondered why the information did not come earlier.