NGO Sues For Open And Participatory Governance, Trains Community Leaders, Public Officials In Calabar

In Breaking News, Civic Space, Reports

By Patrick Obia

Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre in partnership with Oxfam International has ended a “Two-Day Training of Community Leaders on Gender Inclusiveness” in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

The training was targeted at getting Government to effectively communicate and demonstrate good leadership in inclusion of community members and those with disabilities in it’s decision-making processes in governance.

Leaders of various communities in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States were encouraged to carry and amplify the voices of the most neglected and disabled members in their communities.

The Executive Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Mrs. Emem Okon said, “The essence of the training is to promote inclusion in community governance and development processes. A lot of people, particularly the marginalized population are excluded from development processes.”

Stressing on the importance grassroots followership she questioned: “Do we include people with disabilities, do we include women, farmers, fishers in decision-making process? How is a particular community development project addressing the needs and the problems of different groups of people in that community? That is why we are bringing leaders who are operating at the local level and the community level to see how they can use their offices to impact on the people they serve.

“If people don’t participate, then it is difficult to address their needs. Most often, these people are silenced, they just feel they are not part of what is going on in their community, they feel they don’t have a sense of belonging, they feel Government does not care about them; not even remember them. In most instances, that’s true because if you (referring to leaders) don’t identify with them. It means you don’t care about them.”

Assuring continuous support for the five-year project, Lead Person, Even It Up, Oxfam International in Nigeria, Mr. Henry Ushie said there is need to partner Kebetkache because there’s genuine desire to ensure that neglected communities are carried along.

Ushie noted that, the leaders who have been trained on effective inclusiveness, community communication, community development, documentation and gender equality, will serve as drivers of positive change in their various communities.

Pictures from the two-day workshop.

His words, “Over time we realized that women have been excluded in decision making and as a result of that a lot of inequality exist, from social inclusion to economic and political. And that had actually led to a lot of women not having their voice heard in the decision making process and things that concerns them directly, so it leads to lot of exclusion in that line.

“The partnership with Kebetkache is to see how we can promote participatory budgeting, promote taxation and ensure women are included in decision making across these thematic areas. It is not just a one-off activity, it’s a five-year project and so, for the next years to come we will support communities and monitor them.”

In her short presentation, the Executive Director, Women in Action for Positive Development and Gender Enhancement Centre, Prof. Roibito Ekpiken-Ekanem, averred that, community development comes to life when every gender is included in decision making and planning.

“When you talk about inequality, there are certain things, whether you are male or female that if you lack as an individual, if you take it from that dimension then you will know that there’s need for you to include everybody. For me, that is the solution,” Ekpiken-Ekanem said.

Dr. Pius Dukor in his paper said a good Community Leader must be flexible inorder to move with everyone.

He further inferred that, as a good community leader, he or she must have pride in their communities, solve people’s problem, get people to work together as a team, ability to get things done as well as shun crisis. Adding that, “You must have your integrity with you as a leader and people must follow you base on your good examples.”

Chief Constance Meju in her presentation urged participants to utilize the media when they go back to their various communities as the media, both the new and old is one of the ways to hold Government to account, stir positive changes and write their names in gold.

In a vote of thanks on behalf of his colleagues, the Counselor of Ward 1, Calabar Municipal, Hon. Mbora Bassey Eteta-Ita, lauded the efforts of the NGO to train people like them to be a voice in their communities adding that they will not fail their people.

High point of the training which was interactive was drafting of action plans.

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