By Lizzy Agbaji
The African Union (AU) member states adopted the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia, for the purpose of providing a policy framework for accelerating economic cooperation and integration in Africa.
The framework includes improving agriculture, addressing climate change and managing national resource human development of member states, among others.
Observers, however, note that NEPAD programmes and activities, particularly in Nigeria, have suffered setback in recent time.
They observe that the report of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) –NEPAD’s flagship organ — on its holistic assessment of NEPAD’s programmes in Nigeria in 2008, indicates that urgent action is required to reposition it.
They believe that since the primary function of APRM is to assist member states to improve the quality of governance in the broad areas of administration, its ratings of the countries on development programmes ought to be viewed with seriousness.
This sentiment, perhaps, motivates President Goodluck Jonathan to make Amb. Fidelia Njeze the Special Adviser to the President on NEPAD Nigeria, to reposition it for effective service delivery.
Observers note further that the recent tour of Nairobi, Kenya, by some key officials of NEPAD Nigeria, indicates the resolve of the government to reposition it by understudying NEPAD Kenya’s activities and successes it has recorded.
Discussing methods of making NEPAD’s programmes vibrant in Nigeria during the tour, Ms Lilian Mbogo-Omollo, the Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD Kenya, gave some useful hints on how Kenya was able to attain success in development programmes.
She said that visiting countries, where NEPAD’s programmes were successful in Africa, was part of the objectives of APRM by which countries could learn from the strengths and weaknesses of other countries in the implementation of development programmes.
She, however, attributed the success of NEPAD activities in Kenya to the political will demonstrated by the government of the country.
“The NEPAD Secretariat is directly under the Ministry of Development and Planning with proper and adequate funding from the government while NEPAD is supervising the funding of the projects.
“The Head of the Public Service in Kenya also set up a ministerial committee to supervise the implementation of the NEPAD and APRM activities at all levels,’’ she said.
Mr Ibrahim Yunis, the Human Resource Director, NEPAD Kenya, corroborated this view, saying that one of the areas where the country recorded success was in harnessing the best hands to work as members of staff.
According to him, NEPAD Kenya workers comprise 20 professionals in various fields who are not permanent members of staff of the secretariat.
“The Secretariat employs experts from different fields to work in various departments in order to come up with the best strategic policies for our projects.
“Members of staff in the secretariat are employed on a contract basis for four years after which new experts were engaged,’’ Yunis said.
Giving another reason for the success of NEPAD Kenya projects, Mr Nicholas Ambundo, the Programme Coordinator, NEPAD Kenya, said development partners had been supporting various NEPAD’s projects in the country.
He said that the upgrading of NEPAD Kenya Secretariat to international standard motivated the development partners to assist.
“This strategy helps in building the confidence of development partners that are willing to work with the secretariat,’’ he said.
During the tour, the Nigerian team members visited some NEPAD projects and shared views with NEPAD Kenya officials on what to do to reinvigorate NEPAD Nigeria’s activities.
The team visited NEPAD Kenya Policy Implementation Unit, where the members discussed on how to promote agriculture and encourage the youth to participate in it in Nigeria.
Besides, the team members visited viable projects that could give insight into what steps to take in promoting workable power sector in Nigeria.
For instance, they visited the Kenyan Geothermal Development Company, a vision 2030 agenda of Kenyan government, aimed at boosting the power supply.
They also visited Menengai NEPAD e-school situated at the Rift Valley province, inaugurated by Kenyan government to enhance computer education and integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the delivery of school curriculum.
At the end of the tour, Njeze described the visit as a success, noting that both countries had gained knowledge on different strategies to adopt in implementing NEPAD’s projects.
Critics, nonetheless, insist that there is no proper synergy between NEPAD Nigeria and its implementing agencies.
They observe that NEPAD Nigeria, unlike its Kenyan counterpart, does not fund projects directly.
According to them, staff members are posted from the Head of Service to the NEPAD Secretariat in Nigeria with some of them not having requisite knowledge of NEPAD’s programmes.
They also observe that unlike NEPAD Kenya, NEPAD Nigeria Secretariat is situated in residential area and not properly furnished.
In a perceptible reaction to critics’ observations, Njeze recently constituted a committee to develop the right strategies to ensure success of NEPAD’s activities.
Inaugurating the committee, she said that the committee would evolve a viable framework, which would reposition NEPAD Nigeria for effective service delivery.
As part of efforts to revitalise the NEPAD Nigeria, Njeze said that the secretariat recently applied for the climate change fund under the Climate Smart Agriculture Fund for women farmers.
“When the fund is accessed, the office would partner with the Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and Ministry of Women Affairs in the implementation of the project.
She further urged the Head of Service to ensure the posting of experienced staff or allow the NEPAD Secretariat to employ the required workers.
“The government should provide well furnished NEPAD Secretariat at a good location that will attract international development partnership,’’ she said.
By and large, observers insist that if the challenges facing NEPAD Nigeria are effectively addressed, repositioning it for efficient service delivery will be easier. (NANFeatures)