To increase effectiveness of national government programmes, and to enhance transparency, Nigeria needs better monitoring and evaluation tools, says Olasumbo Ayinde-Yakub, a senior government official in Nigeria, who benefited from a course at Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation. ‘We need more capacity building.’
Speaking via skype – during a tea break in her busy schedule – is Olasumbo Ayinde-Yakub Safuriat. She is Deputy Director at the Ministry of Budget and National Planning of Nigeria and heads the division on Monitoring and Evaluation. The course she is talking about is called Evaluating and managing for sustainable development impact, in which she recently participated.
The officials she is training, are from various ministries and agencies, for example on justice, security and economic affairs. ‘Insecurity and poverty are still major issues in Nigeria. The government is putting so much money and resources into combating insecurity and fighting poverty. We need to monitor the programmes and see what happens to these resources. To be accountable, and to ensure that we achieve the objectives that we set out. That is why monitoring and evaluation is so important’, Ayinde-Yakub says.
What she appreciated in the course in Wageningen is the integrated approach. ‘I learned how monitoring and evaluation relates to operational effectiveness. Monitoring and evaluation is not just a mere add-on. You can use the outcomes of monitoring and evaluation during the operation, for strategic guidance. It helps you to be more responsive to challenges and to do more critical thinking: what do we hope to achieve with our projects and activities, and what can we do to more effectively achieve that. My own facilitation skills benefitted as well, for example in training a group of professionals like I do today.’
More transparency and accountability is needed in Nigeria, and better monitoring and evaluation is needed for that, Ayinde-Yakub continues. ‘We need to be accountable to the public, to the citizens. They are the future, they need to know what the government does and why it is relevant. Transparency is very important, and that all depends on monitoring and evaluation and communicating the results effectively.’
‘The bottleneck is a lack of capacities. Good government planning needs critical thinking, and analytical and facilitation skills. More officials in government need to have this capacity. And we must make sure that they see the benefit of monitoring and evaluation.’ Ayinde-Yakub recommends the course at Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation to others. ‘The trainers there were very skilful and managed to bring across the broad picture: monitoring and evaluation as part of managing a programme. I head a national monitoring and evaluation division, and I would like some more of my officers to have these skills. We need to step up.’