The Community Information Centres (CICs) Project of CIRDDOC and Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF)

Introduction: The objective of the CIC project is to provide access to information to community-based citizens who otherwise would not have had access. Many communities in Nigeria do not have electricity and therefore can not watch television, even when they can afford to buy one. Most of them cannot afford generators. In some places, radios are not available neither do they have access to newspapers. They are completely cut off from civilisation and do not have access to information whatsoever on goings-on at the seat of power. This project is aimed at redressing this anomaly by providing a platform for community members to come together from time to time to watch television, read newspapers, listen to the radio and discuss issues of governance. The project also promotes the discussion and reading culture.

In the past, violence was not as rampant as it is today. Communities have lost the culture of dialogue and discussion and have resorted to violence instead. The centres were established to provide forums for returning to this status quo. They are run by DIOs, Civic Educators and Paralegals.

The CICs are located in three states: Anambra, Enugu, and Ebonyi and spread evenly across the senatorial zones. (Appendix 3 is the list of locations). On the whole fifteen CICs – five centres per state – were established by CIRDDOC with support from the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF). The communities donated the halls for the centres and the small house for the generator, so it is a joint venture between CIRDDOC, the community and HBF.

The CICs were equipped with furniture, generators, television sets, radio cassette sets, video sets, newspapers and journals. The Centres have information boards, which community members consult regularly for news and information. Educational audio and videotapes are supplied to these centres to be listened to and viewed by community members free of charge. Workshops and rallies are organised by the DIOs from time to time to build the capacity of the beneficiaries. The Centres serve as meeting points for community members for discussions. The civic education forum discussions hold at the Centre sometimes. There are plans to run the centres in collaboration with the Town Unions with a view to handing them over to the Unions eventually.

DIOs and Paralegals receive modest stipends but CEs are volunteers. Stationeries, CIRDDOC publications and other magazines are supplied to the centres. It is hoped that with the efforts the DIOs are putting into sustainability, the centres will be able to sustain themselves in the near future. State team meetings, which are held monthly, review the work done by DIOs, Paralegals and CEs and provide them information on expectations from their work of the following months. Unscheduled and unannounced monitoring visits are paid to the centres to find out how they are functioning.

Services available at our Community Information Centres (CICs) are as follows: ·      FREE Legal representation in court

  • FREE legal advice, counselling, mediation and alternative dispute resolution. · FREE drafting of legal documents, legal education/outreaches.
  • FREE journal and newspaper reading.
  • FREE television viewing and radio listening etc.

Community Information Staff: The Centres are run by Development Information Officers (DIOs), Civic Educators (CEs) and Paralegals.

The Development Information Officer (DIO): The DIO serves as the coordinator of the activities and a liaison between the centre and the headquarters (CIRDDOC). He/she organises and oversees the activities in the centres and collates all the reports of activities in the centre including the civic forum project discussion sessions for submission to the headquarters on monthly basis. Each trained DIO returned to his/her community and identified at least (10) existing groups from which the Civic Educators (CEs) were selected. CEs are usually secretaries or other official of the groups. The civic educator attends the normal monthly meetings of the group and takes one hour to discuss issues of governance or other thematic issues like elections, etc. DIOs also organise town hall meetings to create opportunities for constituents to meet face to face with their elected representatives. They also acquired the skill to raise their own funds for the purposes of their own programmes and sustainability.

The role of the DIOs includes running development programmes and coordinating the legal aid clinics and civic forums existing in their communities. Each DIO supervises a minimum of ten civic forum groups headed by Civic Educators. From time to time, the DIO organises meetings in the CIC to bring together all forum members in his/her area of jurisdiction for the purpose of discussing emerging issues in the polity (sometimes sent to them from CIRDDOC office), or for refresher course/program. The participants/community members learn about rights issues, principles of mediation, gender issues, widowhood practices, Denial of inheritance, socio-economic rights, political participation; good governance, political awareness programs, budget monitoring, advocacy skills among others. The DIOs receive a monthly stipend for the work they do.

The Civic Educator (CE): The CE is a volunteer selected from an existing group trained to facilitate educational discussion sessions with his / her group and report to the DIO. The CE is a liaison person between CIRDDOC, the CIC and the community because they are selected from existing community associations. One of their responsibilities is transmitting information from the CICs to their community groups and this includes step down training that they have received.

The Paralegal: The Paralegal is regarded as a mini-lawyer who provides simple legal advice, first aid legal service, carry out legal educational programmes and help in simple conflict resolution in the communities. He / she also deputises for the DIO. The paralegals receive a monthly stipend for the work they do.

Community Information Centres (CICs) Meetings

This is a monthly meeting of the staff of the centre i.e. DIO, CEs and Paralegal to review their activities and prepare for the quarterly State team meetings of all the centres in the state.

State Team Meetings: The quarterly state team meeting is a forum for stakeholders in the CIC project. It is attended by the CIRDDOC project team, DIOs, civic educators, paralegals and other community members such as traditional rulers, councillors, local government officers who may be invited to the meetings from time to time. The meeting is basically a monitoring and evaluation tool in the project.

State team meetings were held in each state of the project area (Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu) on a quarterly basis to review the project implementation activities, share experiences – successes and challenges – with a view of achieving the desired objectives. The meetings are rotated among the CICs in each of the states and sometimes teams from one state join colleagues from other states to have a feel of how the centres are run across state lines. The meetings are usually chaired by the Project Coordinator, Engr. Pascal Anozie.

The State team meeting is an opportunity for CIRDDOC to brief the team of developments in the project and notify them on upcoming events. The state team is always invited to CIRDDOC training programmes and activities; so learning and capacity building is a continuous process in the project. In keeping with tradition, each DIO presents a quarterly report of activities of his or her CIC. Experiences are shared and solutions proffered for challenges faced by them. The team meeting is also a forum for training. One of such training took place on June 6th 2008 on work plan preparation.

At the beginning of each project year, each centre articulates and develops a work plan to guide the centre’s activities for the year and also form the basis for the end of year evaluation. The work plan includes fundraising towards the sustainability of the centres in the event of withdrawal of funding by HBF. DIOs, CEs and Paralegals give reports on their activities during the quarter, highlighting the challenges they face. Other participants give their opinion and offer suggestions based on their own experience in their CIC.

The meeting affords CIRDDOC the opportunity to assess the work of the centres and offer advice for improvement. For example, the first team meeting of year 2008 in Ebonyi state was held at Amaezu principally because there had been complaints about the centre’s poor performance. The DIO and paralegal’s reports had been late in coming in and when they did came, they were not impressive. So the team meeting is a strategy to learn, first hand, the nature of the problem in the centre and deliberate on ways to solve it. At the end of that meeting, the team paid a visit to the traditional ruler of the community, to lay a formal complaint and tell him that the centre will have to be relocated if the DIO and the community did not improve on the performance.

The meeting provides an opportunity for members to discuss issues around the welfare of the team too. At one of the meetings, they took a decision to draft regulations on the welfare of the centre teams. More importantly, the meeting keeps the CIC staff on their toes as they are expected to report activities at every meeting. It is embarrassing not to have something to report on when others are making progress.

It is during state team meetings that oncoming programmes are announced and notice given to them to ensure their participation and that of their team members depending on which programme is coming up. Stakeholders’ dialogues are organised from time to time by the CICs to discuss sustainability of the centres. The idea was conceived to keep the project in the front burner in the community and remind them of their obligations to support the centres and ensure their sustainability. The need arose from the lacklustre performance of some centres due to neglect and this was discovered during the routine but unscheduled monitoring visits to the centres.

The last quarter State team meeting is very important also to review the year’s activities, document successes and challenges as well as disseminate information on the project especially as it concerns the following project year.


As part of the efforts to ensure compliance and proper implementation of project activities as well as to identify challenges in the course of implementation, routine monitoring visits were paid to the centres. The visits discussed the ownership and sustainability plan of the centres owing to the perceived possible withdrawal of funding by HBF. This has enabled the organisation to assess first hand the viability of each of the centres.


Looking at the prospects of the Civic Forum project, one would not only wish the project to stay but also to continue to grow and expand to other communities for greater impact. But as laudable as the project may seem, it would cease to exist if the communities/beneficiaries of the project fail in their obligation to imbibe the culture of sustainability that would guarantee continuity of the project in the event of possible withdrawal of the funding body. To this end, a Stakeholders’ Dialogue was organised in the various project states – Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi to chart a way forward for the project and carry stakeholders along on the day-to-day

activities of the centre towards giving them a sense of belonging. The stakeholders’ dialogue also aimed at introducing the participants to the new gender budgeting project and encouraging them to participate in the process. The meetings held at Choice Hotel, Awka in Anambra State on 17th June 2008, Dannic Hotel, Enugu in Enugu State on 19th July 2008, and Metro View Hotel, Abakaliki in Ebonyi State on 23rd July 2008. An average number of 40 participants attended the meetings in each state.

The stakeholders’ dialogues had in attendance dignitaries and important personalities in the states particularly from the communities hosting the projects. They included traditional rulers, town union executives, politicians, centre staff, women and youth leaders. They featured paper presentations on the civic forum project, budget transparency, accountability and gender budgeting, interactive sessions on sustainability issues and group work. Participants were informed of the activities in the projects which include community mobilisation on the electoral process, promotion of people’s participation in the budget process, monitoring and evaluation of public projects, legal services, civic education forums, town hall meetings, rallies etc. The project also supports, encourages and facilitates access to micro-credits from banks. There were also presentations on Rights Based Approach to Budgeting and Gender responsive budgeting. Participants also worked in groups to come out with suggestions on how to keep the centre alive after the withdrawal of funder.

Generally, the stakeholders extolled CIRDDOC for initiating the projects in the communities and pledged their support to the project. Many of them enlisted in the Budget Monitoring Committees.


Under – representation of women in politics and in public life is a common feature in Nigeria. A lot of activities have been geared towards increasing the numbers of women at all levels of political participation. Inspite of all these efforts, progress has been very slow. In the 1999 -2003 legislature, there were only 3 women in the senate of 109 seats and 12 women in the House of Representatives of 360 seats. In 2003, the number of women in the senate increased from 3 to 4 and from 12 to 23 in the House of Representatives.

In 2007, under the Women in Governance Project, CIRDDOC partnered with Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF) to build the capacity of female political aspirants in Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States to compete favourably with their male counterparts in the field and assist them with media strategy and engagement. Apart from the capacity building, CIRDDOC supported women at the local government level to run for political positions. The support was limited to production of posters and IEC materials for the aspirants and supporting media engagement for them.

Out of 17 women supported three won elections as Local Government Chairpersons and Councillors. These are Dr. Mrs. Nwozor, Chairperson Ebonyi LGA, Ebonyi state, Joy Uzobuenyi Anulika, Councillor Amansiodo Ward, Ezeagu LGA, Enugu state, and Mrs. Ebere Chibuisi Councillor Awha Ward in Ezeagu LGA of Enugu state. 9 are from Anambra state and they are

still waiting for elections to be conducted into the LG system in the state. 2 were rigged out in the party primaries. 1 stepped down and was appointed secretary to a Community Development Centre while 2 lost in the elections and in the Elections Tribunal.


The project has been supported by HBF for ten years and from all indications, communities would need to take over the project as HBF cannot support it indefinitely. At the Stakeholders’ forums, participants were encouraged to discuss in the group work the strategies they would adopt to keep the Community Information Centres and the Civic Forum running in the event of the donor’s withdrawal. At the end of the meetings, one of the resolutions that came out was that every community should set up a Board of Trustees charged with the responsibility of overseeing the running and management of the project in the various communities. The meeting urged the centre staff to intensify awareness creation and sensitisation efforts on the project to attract greater patronage, participation and support for the project.

In Anambra state, suggestions for sustainability of the CICs included targeting religious leaders, engaging the Local Government system for budgetary allocation subventions to the centres, and involving philanthropic individuals and groups.

CIRDDOC through the DIOs, CEs and Paralegals are in constant dialogue with the communities on the issue of the sustainability of the centres when funding for the project is withdrawn. From the onset of the project, DIOs were encouraged to take on the issue very seriously. To give the communities a sense of belonging, they were made to donate the hall for the centres, build the plant house and nominate trusted community members for training as DIOs, paralegals and CEs. The Centre teams were encouraged to carry the community members, especially the traditional rulers, along on the day-to-day activities of the centre and make them to have a sense of ownership for the project. By so doing they would be willing to contribute in their own little way to keep the project alive.

Some of the centres have set up mini businesses to yield funds for buying diesel for the generators and buy stationeries etc. Some of them have established business centres by purchasing telephones for commercial provision of services, photocopier and computer services among other things through which funds are generated for the running of the centre. By way of raising funds, the DIOs are encouraged to avail themselves of the opportunities presented by other development agencies on national dailies on call for proposals. The Project Coordinator has offered assistance and direction to them in developing concept papers in that regard.

In Amaezu and Oriuzor, there are proposals to set up a community civic forum committee that would be charged with responsibility of overseeing the welfare and upkeep of the centre as well as organising fundraising rallies for that purpose. Suggestions of raising membership of the committees from the Traditional Ruler’s Council and Town Union are being explored. In Nara, the staff started a chair and canopy rental and hiring business with the few they have procured so far. They hope to increase the number if the pledges made by community members are redeemed. A computer was donated by the Patriotic League of Nri to the centre. At one of the advocacy visits, the Executive Chairman of Imezi Owa actually challenged the DIO and

Paralegal at the CIC to come up with a financial plan for possible support of the project. This offer is being followed up. The CIC in Ohaozara is exploring the establishment of a Garri processing machine, rice Milling, computer literacy program as commercial ventures for the sustainability of the Centre.

Other suggestions on sustainability are:

  • Using religious organisations to ensure sustainability of the projects and paying advocacy visits to wealthy members of the communities. Some of the participants with Chief Alphonsus Okoli of Nnewi taking the lead, pledged to finance the publicity for the visit at Nnewi.
  • Undertaking self help projects such as business centre services, telephone services, etc. to generate resources to run the centre.
  • Renting out part of the centre for meetings at a cost.
  • Advocacy visits to LGAs to lobby for the incorporation of the centre in LG budgetary allocation e.g. subventions to the centres.
  • Advocacy visits to philanthropic individuals and groups. · Start micro-industrial activities.
  • Individuals in the communities to assist in buying papers and other items that are needed in the centres.
  • The Government should take over sponsorship.


  • The centres are located at the village meeting points so it makes them easily accessible to the people.
  • Commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by the community in anticipation of the full kickoff of the centre at Oriuzor is amazing.
  • The communities show active interest and participation in the activities of the CICs e.g. the traditional rulers and community members contribute to the purchase of diesel for the generators.
  • The commitment of the DIOs, paralegals and CEs to keep the centre afloat.
  • The rich experience and connections of staff of the centre have helped e.g. the DIO Eha-Alumona was a headmaster for 16 years and had 36 years teaching experience. He is also an executive member of the Town Union and a powerful social club – the Eha-Alumona Social Club. The centre intends to tap into these resources in keeping the CIC going after the withdrawal of CIRDDOC and HBF.
  • The Nri CIC which is located at the Town Hall shares office with the Town Union – Nri Patriotic League. The centre is always bubbling with activities and busy as ever. In fact, the building housing the centre is also rented out for wedding receptions and the staff of the Centre uses such opportunities to advertise the activities of the CIC to guests.
  • Ability and skills of the staff of the CICs to mediate and resolve disputes, mobilise communities, create awareness, and organise meetings have contributed to the amicable resolution of cases in the communities and have reduced tension. These have also kept the CICs alive.
  • Most of the centres open five days a week with an average of between three and twenty visitors per day as reflected by the visitors’ registers at the centres.
  • In one of the centres, Imezi Owa, a Computer training program is available in the centre and this keeps the centre bubbling with activities.

2.7.2 Weaknesses

  • Inter and intra party fracas and series of electoral cases was making Oyi LGA unsuitable for the stakeholders’ meeting.
  • Lack of communication network in the communities.
  • People are yet fully imbibe the culture of accountability. § High rate of illiteracy among the people.
  • Insufficient funding.
  • The communities are not fully committed in terms ownership of the centre, though they contribute financially in putting the centre together for takeoff. This can also be attributed to conflicts in the communities










Anambra Central


20 Oranma Street Amaenyi, Awka, Awka South LGA


Anambra South


Nri Town Hall, Aniocha L.G.A.


Anambra North


Women’s Town Hall Ajalli, Orumba North L.G.A.


Onowu Odegbo Building Nteje, Oyi L.G.A.


Umudim Town Hall, Umudim, Nnewi North LGA




Enugu North


Umuhu Umuabor Hall, Eha-Alumona


Enugu West


Owelli Court, P.O. Box 672 Awgu Mbanabo South L.G.A.


Umudioha Town Hall, Awada Village Square, Imezi Owa.


Enugu East


Ugwogo Village Hall, Umunameze Inyiukwu LGA


Umuiba Town Hall, Nara


Igwe’s palace, Akpofu, Nkanu East LGA (Paralegal Clinic only)




Ebonyi South


Ugwulangwu Mgbom Community, Ohaozara


Ebonyi North


Amuro Hall, Afikpo, Afikpo North LGA


Ebonyi Central


Onunwelem Community, Echialike, Ikwo East.


Umuonyi Amaezu Community Hall, Amaezu Town


Umuigboke Town Hall, Oriuzor, Ezza North LGA





List of DIOs




Community             Information Centre (CICs)




Charles Obika








Chief Atuokwu Anambra







Ogbons Nwankwo-Ume








Michael Anakwue Anambra






Chijioke Ifeka








Lilian Nnachi Ebonyi






Cecelia Igu Ebonyi






Odumeke Mary








Chukwuma Ogbuzuru








Haggai Nwakpo








Basil Udeani








Johnson Ozifo Enugu






Amujiri Callistus








Nathaniel Eze Enugu






Eucharia Oguegbe






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