Community ownership of Government Projects?

by Rev. Uche Dr.Obodoechina

What does government project mean? And who owns these projects? These questions will constitute the focus of our reflections for this week. In the first place, government projects are those goods and services undertaken by any tier of government. It includes but not limited to provisions of infrastructures like Electricity, pipe borne water, good network of roads, hospitals and schools, and other sundry services of government not mentioned here. Government projects are therefore varied.

And each level of government has its roles in this regard. For instance, it would not to be expected that the local government council anywhere in Nigeria would undertake to build a federal university and site it within its own local government area council. It would be the job of the federal government to provide such capital intensive projects.

There are therefore clear specifications with regard to power distribution among the tier of government and the goods and services expected of them. Even though the government is for the people, there are for purposes of order and efficiency, distinctions in the duties and allotment of responsibilities among the levels of government.

For instance, there are the Exclusive list; which itemizes the duties and levels of power of service reserved only for the federal government. The items oflaw and services included in this list like the Army, the Police, and Mining, Sea Port, Immigrations and international relations are specific preserves of the federal government in Nigeria. However, there is also the Concurrent list, which deals with issues and subject on which both the Federal and State governments and even the local government councils were empowered to legislate and collaborate with one another.

Again there is the Residual list of items and subjects which are neither included in the Exclusive list nor in the Concurrent lists. It must be underscored that these lists are competent specifications for greater efficiency in service delivery among the various tiers and levels of government. They are not absolute delineations. After all, the services of the Instruments of law in the Exclusive list for instance are realized and felt at the local government levels.

The services of the Nigerian police and even the army at the nooks and cranny of this nation are evidences of interrelationship among these lists. But who owns these projects and services contained in these lists? It is obvious that the government anywhere exists for the overall well-fare of its citizens. No government exists for itself. Each government exists for the people. And so its services are designed for the people.

In other words, the several projects of services of government belong to the people. Take for instance the provision of good network of roads by the government. The roads being provided belongs to both the people and the government. In fact, the roads belong to all road users. They are parts and parcel of the common good of the society for all its members.

However community ownership of projects is not a familiar concept among our people. For most of us, these infrastructures belong to the government. But nothing can be far from the truth as this understanding. People are ignorant about their status in the society. Most people around do not know that the government belongs to the people. And that the government ought to serve the people and not vice versa.

If the projects of government belong to the people, certain expectations from the people are obvious. It leaves always a bitter taste in the mouth to see the recklessness with which some government Contractors for instance handle some government projects like construction of road networks.

And yet the people who are the immediate beneficiaries of such projects do not own the projects and do not offer simple inspection services and evaluations of the projects. Let it be said more loudly that it is a part of the community responsibility to. own projects of government!

... go back to the You and Politics page.


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