Madam Adeline Odikibiebuma is an inhabitant of Ogu, in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of Rivers State; she is a teacher, women leader, and a respected voice who has been advocating for the well being of her people. Over the years, Ogu community has lacked some basic amenities such as, proper educational infrastructure, good roads, and proper healthcare services, to mention a few.
SCEEP (Strengthening Citizens’ Engagement with the Electoral Process), a project organized by Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) in collaboration with Action AID Nigeria, is aimed at developing the capacity of citizens to get involved in governance and demand for better services from their duty bearers.
Madam Adeline has been advocating for her people long before the SCEEP project started in Ogu community, however, she described her crude advocacy as having less impact considering that she was not able to engage the relevant authorities with her requests making her efforts futile.
She credits her newly-found confidence and boldness to the SCEEP project which helped her gain relevant skills and influence needed to project her voice and speak for her people. “The Unique style of the SCEEP project is such that it makes you think for yourself”, she says. “I have been motivated to become a better leader representing the women in Ogu and a better teacher to the students I teach”.
Madam Adeline doesn’t work alone though. She is part of a group of advocates raised by the SCEEP project who continue to pressure relevant authorities to provide solutions to the challenges currently being faced in their communities. One major impact of their advocacy includes the reconstruction of Ogu community secondary school by the Rivers State Government, in her words she said, “The school was demolished and left abandoned for over eight years, until the SCEEP Advocacy group in Ogu community went on Radio and engaged key stakeholders in their community to ask for the school to be renovated.
After weeks and months of advocacy, their efforts eventually yielded some success when the Government came to their aid and massive work is currently on-going at the dilapidated school.
Mr Patrick Fubara, one of the members of the SCEEP Advocacy group in Ogu also shared; “I came into advocacy about three years ago when SDN came into Ogu community, though before now I have the passion to work for the community, but when SDN and Actionaid came in, they broadened my understanding and knowledge on community advocacy. With the training given to us during the SCEEP Project, now the community advocacy group can identify their problems and how they can go about in solving them. We now know how to engage duty bearers and also to identify most pressing issues that should be addressed.
Mr. Fubara stated that the major challenge facing them right now is, “there is no grass root governance, we don’t have a stable local government chairman, the one we have now was appointed and not elected, and he can be changed any time since he is just a caretaker chairman.”
Another beneficiary of the SCEEP Project, Mr. John Afifanaka, also shared his story; “After being trained during the SCEEP project, I have been using the skills acquired to advocate in the community, I talk to cult boys to shun violence and embrace peace, and today a lot of them have dropped their arms as a result of my engagement with them. Last year (2016), Ogu community got an award as the most peaceful community in Rivers State and I can attribute this to the SCEEP advocacy training.
Having seen all of these achievements, we can conclude and agree that the people needs a more enabling platforms for such training’s as this, so they can do a thorough job in representing their people as well as help foster peace and bring about a lasting and sustainable development in their communities.