by Abdullahi M.Seidu
Allegations abound about how some members of the National Assembly ‘corner’ the funds of the constituency projects into their personal pockets without actually executing any projects. According to the Managing Director of Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority, Mr Onu Eluwa, constituency development projects form the bulk of abandoned projects in the water sector. In his words, “We have a lot of abandoned projects; these projects are largely what we call the constituency projects of legislators, which, when a new legislator comes, he does not continue financing. We have to build the projects from the budgets that are made available to us. If there isn’t continued financing for a project and a contractor is on that project and he is not paid, he can’t stay there indefinitely, that is why we have these abandoned projects.”
Eluwa is not alone in picking holes in constituency projects implementation by lawmakers, Innocent Akpoteju Adjenughwure, President, Renaissance Agenda; Team Leader, Niger Delta Study Group Extractive Sector; and National Coordinator of Campaign Against Arms Trade Network in Nigeria, kicked against the inclusion of bogus constituency project in the national budget: “It is not the duty of the lawmakers to allocate the resources in he budget, as their duty is to monitor the effective implementation of the budget across the entire country. The constituency project malady is a short route to corrupt tendency.”
The idea of constituency projects for legislators sprung up at the experimental stage of Nigeria’s democratic dispensation. I believe the intention then was not to stuff the pockets and accounts of legislators. Rather, the idea was to ensure a minimum presence of government in every constituency by having some grassroot projects sited in each one during budget implementation. It is clear that the National Assembly members need to focus on their assignments, as enshrined in the 1999 constitution, and refrain from meddling in matters they have no business.