Interview with Queen Mother Nkem Victoria Ikenchuku, Honourable Commissioner, Directorate of MDGs, Delta State, Nigeria
and participant in “Management of project implementation in development-bank-funded projects”.
Could you tell us something about the role of women in your country?
The role of women in Nigeria is quite multi-faceted and multidimensional. There are many women professionals, the number depending on the class of women we are considering; all are playing multi-faceted roles. There are women in politics, the public sector and the private sector. At national level we have several Ministries, Departments and Agencies managed by women, and in Delta State, which is my state of origin, the Governor, His Excellency Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, CON, is very gender- sensitive. We have a high rate of compliance with a 35% level of affirmative action to promote gender participation in government, both in Delta State and at national level.
Women are simultaneously wives, mothers, farmers, and traders involved in manufacturing and other businesses. They have demonstrated that they can be very good managers in both the public and private sectors of our economy.
Which aspects require most of your attention?
I think all areas require my attention, because each category has its own particular issues. Middle-class women and women in politics, for instance, may have stress management issues. But in Delta State we are focusing on rural women. Microcredit is provided and rural women are given the opportunity to express their entrepreneurship skills and ability to manage funds. They are now economically empowered. And rural women are very business-minded, serious and efficient financial managers. We learn a lot from them.
What were your institutional objectives in attending the course?
At the moment I am the Commissioner, Directorate of MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) in Delta State. In order to manage projects, especially World-Bank-funded projects as we have in the area of the MDGs, you have to enhance your project management skills and I am here with two members of our team to enhance our competences for the management of the Directorate. We are fully focused on that and all other areas of project management. For instance we believe that planning, monitoring and evaluation are very important. Evaluation is made at different levels and from various standpoints, for instance that of stakeholders. Through this training we aim to learn how to allocate resources in the context of time and costs. These capacities need to be constantly enhanced in the interests of better efficiency and transparency.
How did you learn about this activity?
Through the website; moreover some members of the Delta State Civil Service were here a few years ago. We thought this course was quite in line with capacity-building of staff working on the MDGs.
Can you tell our readers something about your present experience on the course?
The environment is very appropriate for, and conducive to, learning. It is a world and United Nations environment, notably with halls of residence named after countries and continents of the world. Different aspects of academic and personal needs are provided for and attended to within the Centre; one has no reason to go outside for any service - whether dry cleaning, post office, banking or health care, everything is on site. You are encouraged to focus on the training. The course content is very rich. The training programme is well articulated and the timetable strictly adhered to. Facilitators have been very professional and even available for support after course hours. It has been a very fulfilling experience.
I am keen to put into practice efficient use of resources, including tracking of progress in a time-bound project, and this was part of the practical exercise we were involved in today. In addition, ensuring proper communication in a project is very important, since the Project Coordination Unit members are out in the field. We also share the ability to identify practical activities and determine the appropriate delivery dates for these tasks within the project .
Do you think you have gained new ideas and insights into project development? What do you plan to do after you go back home?
The team from Delta State is prepared to take all necessary action. We have identified several project management strategies which would enhance our performance, and which we shall share with staff back home. I keep saying to my colleagues that we need to return and cascade this as much as possible, sensitising staff through training sessions and really translating the theory into practice.
Has this course given you input and ideas for action?
I am committed to passing on the message from the Turin Centre.
In your opinion, how could this training activity contribute to your role in your country?
We shall be more efficient and I shall play my part in meeting the overall objectives of Delta State Government, especially in terms of capacity-building and management of human, physical and financial resources.
Would you have a special message to convey in this regard?
This training has been really useful in enabling project managers to stay more focused and manage funds more efficiently, and I think as many people as possible should participate in the training. If this is not possible they should enroll online. In Delta State we have had terrible flooding affecting 45.000-50,000 people, necessitating reconstruction and rehabilitation projects. All these skills are urgently needed in the post-flood rehabilitation process as well as in my primary task of meeting the Millennium Development Goals targets in Delta State.