AKSG Steps Up Community Driven Development, Present Cheques To Beneficiaries In line with its determination to develop all communities in Akwa Ibom, the state government has dolled out 135 million naira to 15 rural communities to implement various micro-projects across the state. The benefiting communities include: Ikot Esen Oku, Mbioto Ekpene Ituen in Etinan local government; Nto Uso in Ika local government; Ibam Edet, Mbiafun Ikot Abasi, Nkwot Etok in Ini local government; Offot Ikot Abasi Esu, Ibesit Okpokoro in Oruk Anam; and Ikot Obon in Nsit Atai Others are Ikot Ukana, Okpo Eto Edem Idim in Obot Akara; Ikot Udo Obobo in Ukanafun local government ; Ukana Ikot Ide, Ikot Ono, Ukana Ikot Akpabio in Essien Udim local government Each of the communities got Nine million nairs after the payment of one million naira counterpart fund to make the total cost of the micro-projects of each community Ten million.Presenting cheques to the benefiting communities recently at the end of the second batch two-day training organized by Akwa Ibom State Agency for Community and Social Development for Community Project Management Committee (CPMC) members and other stakeholders which took place in Uyo, the Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr Akan Okon, said it was government's intention to ensure that development get to every community in Akwa Ibom state. Okon, while congratulating the benefiting communities, urged them to ensure prudent utilization of the funds for proper implementation of the micro-projects in their areas. Micro-projects expected to be implemented by the various CPMC include: construction of market stalls, construction of motorized borehole, extension of electricity, and construction of primary health center, civic center and VIP toilets among others. The commissioner, who observed that a lot of people dwell in rural communities, said through Community and Social Development Project (CSDP), "we are able to access rural communities, adding "It is through projects of those nature that the impact of government will be felt in those communities He pledged the resolve of the ministry to formulate policies and give advice to government to ensuring that every nook and cranny of the state witness development. Okon, who posited that development is not a destination but a process, assured, " just as we are starting with you, a lot if communities will benefit after you The commissioner noted that, "His Excellency's robust commitment has enabled the agency to facilitate accelerated micro-project implementation in the state and deepen the state government's penetration into rural communities to touch the lives of the poor and vulnerable through provision of access to basic social services at the grassroots He thanked the people of the state for their believe and support to the governor which led them to vote for him in the last election, and stressed that it was a good thing that the tribunal has affirmed the Mandate they gave him, to continue till 2023. Commenting on the two-day training, Okon who said it will equip the participants with skills to manage the various micro-projects that will be implemented in their communities, thanked World Bank for collaborating with the state under CSDP to attract development. The general manager, Akwa Ibom State Agency for Community and Social Development (AKSCSD) Mr Ishmael Akpan, noted that the training for the first and second batch of 25 communities and subsequent presentation of cheques to them underscores the zeal and commitment of the state government to touch the lives of the poor and vulnerable and enhance the socio-economic well-being of all at the grassroots. Akpan reiterated that the Project Development Objective of CSDP, among others, is to sustainably enhance access of the poor to social and natural resource infrastructure services, adding, "it adopts Community Driven Development (CDD) approach in which the community people are at the driver's seat and have absolute control over their decision making including expenditure on project implementation According to him, "the agency facilitates fund to them and only monitors their micro-projects implementation to ensure adherence to standards and quality control He said the training has built the capacity of participants and exposed them to the basic ingredients and skills of effective project management. The general manager urged the communities to endeavour to execute their projects quickly after collecting the cheques to attain the agreed milestones and then obtain the next tranch to work and complete their first micro-projects, so as to proceed to the next micro-projects until they complete all micro-projects within the timeline. Doing this, he said will enable the agency to access more funds for implementation in other communities. "when you slow down or stop implementation, you are denying other communities the opportunity of implementing their micro-projects, he said. Akpan, while commending President Muhamadu Buhari for partnering World Bank under CSDP and reaching out to all states of the federation, appreciated governor Emmanuel for his unflinching support to AKSCSD and resolve to touch the lives of the poor and downtrodden. This, he said "has enabled us to achieve the present level of intervention in 25 new communities from July 2019, in addition to the 89 communities that we roll over from December 2018 Some of the participants who spoke with Midweek Pioneer expressed appreciation to government and World Bank for choosing their communities to be among the beneficiaries. Akan Ekpenyong, from Ibam Edet in Ini local government, promised that they will finish their micro-projects within the specified timeline and take ownership of them by ensuring their maintenance. Obong Sam Etokakopan from Mbioto Ekpene Ituen in Etinan and Patrick Emah from Okpo Eto Edem Idim in Obot Akara local government on their part expressed delight for receiving the cheques and lauded the World Bank and Akwa Ibom government for the gesture. They described the Community Driven Development intervention as a stepping stone to the development of rural communities and made case for the sustainance of the programme to enable more communities to benefit from it. Papers were presented on Roles and Responsibilities of stakeholders/CDD concept in CDDP, Financial Management, Book Keeping, Issues in Community Procurement, Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, and Environmental Management and Safeguards. Others include Conflict Management in Communities, Gender Issues in CSDP, Operations, Maintenance and Project Sustainability, Conflict Resolution and Grievance Redress Mechanism and Breach of Financial Agreement. The event featured signing of financial agreement by the communities with the state agency which will be signed up by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.