Despite the public outcry that has trailed the corrupt practices entrenched in constituency projects, a senator has suggested allocation of at least 20 per cent of Nigeria’s annual budget to it.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how lawmakers in conjunction with relevant ministries, departments, and agencies collude to benefit from monies allocated under constituency projects.
Several civic groups and former leaders including former President Olusegun Obasanjo have also condemned the constituency projects.
“These constituency projects are spread over the budget for members of the National Assembly for which they are the initiators and the contractors directly or by proxy and money would be fully drawn with the project only partially executed or not executed at all,” Mr. Obasanjo said in November.
Despite the criticism, Stella Oduah (PDP – Anambra North) on Friday made the 20 per cent suggestion in a statement she signed.
Ms. Oduah, who was accused of corruption while she held office as aviation minister, said constituency projects were meant for rural development.
She added there was the need for institutional and legislative frameworks for the execution of constituency projects in Nigeria.
She said she had sponsored a Bill to that effect, saying that when passed, legislators would have the opportunity to develop their constituencies.
“Projects under this Bill, when passed by the Senate and assented to by the President, shall be community-based.
Ms. Oduah said that the move, when materialised, would ensure that such projects benefit a cross session of the inhabitants of a particular area the projects were located.
“Any funding under this bill shall be for a complete project or a defined phase of a project and may include the acquisition of land.’’
She explained that the bill would correct misconceptions that lawmakers were directly in control of constituency projects.
“It is instructive to note, by way of educating the general public, that members of the National Assembly merely identify the needs of the constituents and recommend same to the executive during budgeting.
“Ultimately, they have no direct control over their implementation; hence the award, financing and supervision of constituency projects are the preserves of appropriation agencies other than the National Assembly’’.
According to her, the Bill is for an Act to provide for Constituency Projects in the Annual Budget of the Federation (SB. 321), adding that it has been read for the first time.
“The Bill was on December 8 referred to the Committee on States and Local Government Areas for more legislative actions while it will report back within four weeks.”
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