Questions over constituency projects N1trn spend as haters emerge

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TUESDAY 21 JUNE 2016, ABUJA- Federal lawmakers as well as the executive arm of the Federal government are looking for options for the legal framework establishing the constituency project initiative after the scandalous N1 trillion appropriated between 2004 and 2013 failed to reflect its objectives.

The search for a plan ‘B’ reflects the deep concerns about the strain the funding of the idea has put on federal government revenue and many Nigerians have repeatedly dismissed it as an avenue for embezzlement, a sentiment the Federal government echoed Monday during the summit organised by the House of Representatives and Conference of Speakers in collaboration with the National Institute of Legislative Studies, NILS, which focused on political representation, constituency and zonal intervention services.

Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal clearly showed disdain when he brazenly describe the constituency projects as a “conduit pipe through which lawmakers embezzled money.”

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has come to change the practice,” he told the lawmakers at the summit who were visibly rattled.

Much of failures of the constituency projects has stemmed from the politicians who did not return back to the National Assembly after electoral defeats or death. Questions invariably are not asked about the funds they were allocated for projects or how the funds allocated could be put to effective use by those who take over from them. It is against this backdrop that the minister of works, power and housing, Babatunde Fashola, who also spoke at the summit, suggested a more sustainable framework that will take care of any projects after the exit or death of a legislator.

The constituency and zonal intervention projects are captured in the annual Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly and domiciled with relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who declared open the one-day national summit said the idea of constituency intervention projects arose as a result of the demand by Nigerians for equitable, even distribution of infrastructural development projects, lopsidedness in the distribution of government amenities, which would offend the federal character principle and lead to concentration of resources in the hands of a few states or groups in Nigeria.

Dogara also called for a review of the existing legal framework.

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