By Angela James
Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has said that economic growth and development can only be attained when state institutions are driven not only by well-defined strategies but also monitored and evaluated through well-thought-out, reliable metrics.
Obaseki said this in Benin at a Workshop on Designing, Building and Sustaining Result-based Monitoring and Evaluation System, organised by the state government in conjunction with Carter Consulting Limited for top civil and public servants in the state.
Condemning the negligent attitude that short-changes the state of project funds, he said that contractors collude with civil or public servants to walk away with billions of naira for jobs poorly done due to “the tradition of people not being diligent.”
He decried what he called a ‘bastard mentality,’ which allows contractors to throw paltry sums of money at officials of government while they walk away with billions of naira after executing poor quality projects.
“When you think about it. It is like a bastard mentality. That is, you are taking your money from your home and giving it to outsiders. At the end of the day, who loses? You make peanuts and the contractor has walked away with billions of naira. That is what I see across the country.”
He maintained that often times, monitoring and evaluation processes are inadequate because they are not informed by policymaking, noting that the workshop would serve to intimate the participants with the primacy of monitoring and evaluation for sustainable project delivery.
According to him, “Over the years, monitoring and evaluation processes have been applied in a manner that did not adequately inform the policymaking. Neither did it address the issue of planning in budgeting as well as projects and programme implementation. In fact, most employees in the civil and public services have a very limited understanding of the essence and value of monitoring and evaluation to the overall development process in the state.”
He argued that some civil servants lack tools, processes and methods required not only to efficiently and effectively monitor and evaluate but also to determine if the interest of the people is being served.
“It is not uncommon when you send out people to go and monitor ongoing government projects, and the people say they are on a witch-hunt. You normally hear things like, let us help the person. So, you are helping your friends or beneficiaries of state contracts at the expense of the people of our state?” He asked.
He continued, “The most embarrassing demonstration of this glaring limitation is that in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), where some form of monitoring takes place, the activities are reduced to periodic onsite visits, without analysis of how the activities are linked to the broader chain of results. You hardly see an M&E framework with clear measurable indicators used in evaluation or a holistic and replaceable format for reporting achievements or setbacks.”
He said it is expected that the participants learn the need for MDAs to first think about strategic objectives, why they do what they do, why government sets out on certain initiatives, the impact and implications and why we have opted for certain policy choices.
“It is only when we have done that, can we now have a system where we can measure whether we are making progress in line with the choices we have made and how effectively these initiatives are being implemented,” he stressed.
He added that the workshop is targeted not only at decision-makers but all senior government officials responsible for M&E, noting that it would provide common understanding of M&E in policies, programmes, projects, including monitoring of public financial expenditure in line with the Fiscal Responsibilities Acts.
Speaking on The Context of Change and Project Portfolio Management, Chief Strategist, Carter Consulting, Dr. Adeniyi Onamusi, said it was pertinent for public servants to embed M&E components in their activities, not only to ensure proper project management but also to get value for money and for taxpayers.
According to him, “There is need for Edo State to improve the competence of its workforce as the good intention of the governor is the first step for the creation of value for projects in the state. Monitoring and evaluation of projects must be carried out to benefit the people of the state.”