The Abia state coordinating office of the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises-Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) in Umuahia on Friday received the monitoring and evaluation team from the national headquarters of the project on tour to assess the pace of the project’s intervention in the state.
The monitoring and evaluation team was headed and led by Engr. Abiodun Sanni, the National Project Coordinator (NPC).
Part of the activities lined up for the visiting team’s assessment was a meeting session with the incubators(Trainers) and incubatees(Beneficiaries) which was well attended and turned out to be interactive and engaging. The incubatees and incubators had the opportunity to relate and narrate their success stories and the challenges they are encountering.
Responding to the questions, testimonies and challenges from the incubators and incubatees during the interactive session of the meeting, Engr. Abiodun first commended the incubators and incubatees for attending the assessment meeting and for also speaking their mind on the challenges, the impact of the project in their lives and businesses, while also bringing to their notice that the project is new and the entire LIFE-ND team is learning to make adjustments in the activities as the project progresses.
Engr. Abiodun also explained to them that the project is designed to revolve round four levels of funds with the aim of ensuring food security and to generate income for beneficiaries as they become independent.
In his words: “As a project we have four levels of funds, they are stipends, service charge, seed capital and working capital, all these funds passes through the incubators account.”
Engr. Abiodun also explained that he will be the first point of contact to explain to the international donors and the federal government of Nigeria on every amount spent on the project before reaching the state project coordinators involved in the project. He pleaded with the incubatees to be dedicated on their part as they are expected to become Incubators as they grow.
While speaking to newsmen about the outcome of the interactive session, Engr. Abiodun said; “the incubators and incubatees showed that they are fully keyed into the project.”
“we got positive and negative response from them and we are to see how we can adjust, but the bulk of the feedback is more of positivity and am impressed with the performance of the project in the state, we are optimistic that we will meet our target.” Engr. Abiodun added.
The monitoring and evaluation team also inspected the newly constructed combined battery cage and deep litre system poultry building cluster at Abayi Ohanze community in Obingwa local government area of Abia state and also visited some incubatees who have started their agro businesses. The team also went ahead to inspect other constructed facility to support other incubatees.
Answering questions fed by newsmen about the overall outcome of their assessment and evaluation on the LIFE-ND project in Abia state, Engr. Abiodun expressed satisfaction on what his team meet on ground.
Stating further how impressed he was with the assessment of Abia LIFE-ND activities, he said “Abia team of the LIFE-ND project has always been reliable and responsive as far as target is concerned.”
Engr. Abiodun also emphasized that the payment of the counterpart fund by Abia state government gave the yielded results.
Engr. Abiodun also gave the challenges of the project to be slow pace of funds disbursement which was said to be caused by bureaucratic bottlenecks. He assured that systems have been put in place to minimize it so that it will reach the recipients as soon as possible.
On the performance of Abia LIFE-ND team, Engr. Abiodun rated them very high in delivering the course of the project especially in a limited time frame.
“As I have seen in the field, on the scale of 10, I rate Abia 8/10. Abia state is doing very well.” Engr. Abiodun said.
The Abia state project coordinator(SPC), Uchenna Rowland Onyeizu, PhD, while also addressing newsmen about the visit of the NPC and his team, he said he was satisfied with the outcome of the visit while applauding the effort of the incubators and incubatees in ensuring commendable attendance which paved way for robust interaction and assessment.
Speaking on the inclusion of the incubatees and incubators on the assessment and evaluation exercise, Dr Onyeizu said; “they had the free will to express themselves, the feedback we got were very instructive and helpful and we will try as much as possible to mainstream them in our activities moving forward. It was a very nice session we had.”
Dr Onyeizu also added that the findings by the NPC and his team will help them improve on the activities of the project and their feedback will determine what should be changed or continued in the project
Speaking on the progress made so far on the first batch of beneficiaries, Dr Onyeizu said LIFE-ND project is ongoing in 100 communities within 10 local government areas in the state and has graduated above 250 incubatees and plans to bring on board extra 900 incubatees.
In achieving the said results, Dr Onyeizu said Abia state was the first to pay the counterpart fund among the participating states and it is the key reason why Abia LIFE-ND is ahead of other states in the project.
“We are proud to say that in implementation, management and in almost all indices, we have always had the best of it. Immediately we got the counterpart fund, we hit the ground from day one. We have had a very good enabling environment within the communities, the governor, his excellency Okezie Ikpeazu, PhD has supported us in all ramification.” Dr Onyeizu said.
The LIFE-ND Project is being funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development(IFAD).
Also involved in the project are the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Ministry of Finance, budget and National Planning, and the United Nations.
The project is ongoing in the nine Niger-Delta States.