The Nigerian Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) has sought partnership with PREMIUM TIMES to foster transparency and strengthen its monitoring and evaluation process across the country.
The agency’s Executive Secretary, Junaid Abdullahi, said this last Wednesday during a courtesy visit to PREMIUM TIMES headquarters in Abuja.
He said that the collaboration would also enable the agency ”to tell its own story and enlighten the public”.
According to him, the collaboration follows the agency’s plan for its coming 2019 capital projects to ensure they are well-executed as many of its “previous projects in the past are not properly executed making the agency lose money to contractors”.
The official also explained that the partnership would ensure that the work of the agency in the border communities ”does not go unnoticed in the public domain”.
The BCDA, established in 2003, is a development agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria with the mandate to ensure the sustainable social, economic and infrastructural development of border communities in Nigeria.
”We are here to pay you a courtesy visit to PREMIUM TIMES and this is to appreciate and commend you because, presently, you carry the flagship of online media. I am a good follower of your online publication,” Mr Abdullahi said.
”We are just about to embark on our 2019 capital projects and a lot would have some zonal intervention projects.
”Previously, there have been a lot of concerns about how these projects are executed, not very well supervised and there is a tendency for people not to execute the contract and go away with the money.
”What we are trying to do as a government agency is to strengthen our monitoring evaluation process because we want to show that there is value for money being expended,” he said.
He said there was a need to tell the agency’s story properly.
”And nobody tells our own story where we contribute to this country, so it is not entirely the fault of the media, because we also have a role to play by inviting you and showing you what we do. As a result of that we can enlighten the public,” he said.
He added that ”most of our work always goes unnoticed, because our work is in the border communities, who are without good roads, very remote, and unfortunately they are the most neglected in the country”.
”These border communities are strategic because they border our international borders and they are the first point of contact for anybody coming in.”
In his response, the Editor-in-Chief of PREMIUM TIMES, Musikilu Mojeed, thanked the BCDA team for approaching the newspaper.
He said his organisation’s objective includes reporting on agencies of government ”to ensure they work with transparency so there would be value for money”.
Mr Mojeed also thanked the BCDA executive director for his humility ”despite critical reports done on the agency’s procurement irregularities”.
He described the gesture ”as a leadership virtue whereby government agencies and media must come together to help this country”.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the Border Communities Development Agency (BDCA) agency shortlisted unqualified companies for a slew of federal contracts across the country.
Mr Mojeed urged the agency to apply due diligence in future award of contracts.
”Even if you are going to award a contract, award it to people who are qualified. Let the processes be competitive, whoever gets it, we are all Nigerians. But ensure that the contract is done, whether they are nominated by lawmakers or by your agency, that is where we get a return on investment,” he said.
The Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo, also said the partnership is needed to better enlighten the public.
”If you are doing so much good work in those communities and you believe those stories are not being told, it is because people are not aware of them.”
He said PREMIUM TIMES was not out to run down organisations but to keep them on their toes as far as service delivery is concerned.
”I believe this kind of partnership could help tells those stories,” he said. ”At PREMIUM TIMES, we are not just out to write negative stories. Those who are doing great work, we report them. Despite Nigerians believing nothing is working well, we show them things are working in these areas.”