by Yusuf Ishaku Goje
In line with the letters and spirit of Section 4 (1-9) of the Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as amended, the sole responsibility of the legislature is that of lawmaking and providing oversight on the executive arm of government. Due largely to the ignorance or rather poor performance of the capital budgets in delivering people-focused services over the years; citizens have also come to expect the execution of capital projects and monetary hand-outs from their representatives. Furthermore, the necessity to ensure fair distribution of projects and attract federal presence to every constituency gave rise to constituency projects for lawmakers.
Since the inclusion of constituency projects into the budget content, legislators in each constituency annually identify the needs of his/her constituents and recommend same to the executive during budgeting. For instance, in 2016 alone about N100bilion naira was appropriated for constituency projects. On paper, the legislators have no direct control over the award, financing and supervision of constituency projects; the responsibilities are shouldered by the appropriate agencies. In reality, however, evidence shows that constituency projects have been hijacked by some lawmakers for personal purposes; thereby defeating the intent.
Some of the legislators connive with the executing agencies to use fronts/contractors to execute the projects on their behalf or to carry out projects that are not in line with the true needs of their constituents. In that light, the ever vocal former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, described the constituency projects being embarked upon by lawmakers as “corruption”. Also, the now-suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, posited that constituency projects have over the years been a “conduit pipe through which lawmakers embezzle money”.
Aside the corruption ascribed to it, another challenge with constituency projects is that many of them are not federal in nature; like provision of hand pumps, primary healthcare centres and street lights. A key reason why constituency projects have failed to achieve their purpose is that lawmakers do not carry-out widespread stakeholder’s consultation and proper needs assessment. Also, majority of citizens see constituency projects as the personal projects of their representatives; so they are nonchalant towards taking ownership of the projects through monitoring the execution and evaluation of the impact on the constituents.
The foregoing is the reality in Lere local government, under Kaduna North Senatorial District of Kaduna State. The local government is highly populated, agrarian, and host to the largest corn market in West Africa. Aside the Senator representing the Senatorial zone, and unlike others where two local governments are merged to produce a representative member in the House of Representative, Lere local government has one representative to itself. Monies have been voted over the years in the federal budget for constituency projects in Lere local government, but only a few projects have met the needs of the constituents. The high level of ignorance among the constituents about the number and details of constituency projects allocated to the constituency is to be blamed for poor participation and service delivery by their representatives.
Therefore, it has become expedient to provide the constituents of Lere local government with information on constituency projects meant for them as captured in the 2017 budget. In a document produced by Tracka/BudgIT (www.tracka.ng/www.yourbudgit.com) titled, ‘Tracking 2017 FG Constituency Projects in Kaduna State’; it showed that there are nine constituency projects to be executed in Lere local government. These projects fall under the responsibility of their Senatorial representative, Senator Sulieman Hunkuyi, and House of Representative Member, Honorable Lawal Mohammed Rabiu. The information contains the project code, title, status, agency, ministry and amount allocated.
Below are the constituency projects for the constituents in Lere local government to engage their representative for more details and monitoring of projects implementation:
ZIP021 – Supply of fertilizer in Lere local government, the status is a new project, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is to supply it and the amount budgeted for it is ₦21, 571, 429. Contact House of Representative member for more details.
ZIP443 – Free medical surgery in Lere local government, the status is a new project, Federal Ministry of Health is executing it and the amount budgeted for it is ₦5, 000,000. Contact House of Representative member for more details.
ZIP773 – Construction of market square in Lere local government, the Federal Ministry of Power, Works & Housing is executing it and amount allocated is ₦100, 020,000. Contact the Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District for more details.
ZIP961 – Rural electrification at Nazangi Village in Lere local government, status is ongoing, the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology is executing it and the amount allocated to it is ₦10, 000,000. Contact House of Representative member for more details.
ZIP964 – Completion of rural electrification project at Nazangi Village in Lere local government, status is ongoing, the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology is executing it and the amount allocated to it is ₦13, 000,000. Contact House of Representative member for more details.
ZIP2538 – Rural water resources supply (solar boreholes and overhead tanks projects in seven locations in Kaduna North Senatorial Districts) in Saminaka, Lere local government, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is executing it and the amount allocated to all the seven location in the senatorial zone for the projects is ₦200, 000,000. Contact the Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District for more details.
ZIP2574 – Computer centre in Gure/Kahugu ward in Lere local government, the status of the project is new, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is executing it and the amount allocated to it is ₦10, 000,000. Contact House of Representative member for more details.
ZIP1988 – Training and empowerment for youth in Lere local government, the status is new, Federal Ministry of Trade & Investment is executing it and the amount allocated to it is ₦15, 000,000. Contact House of Representative member for more details.
ZIP1988 – Training and empowerment for women in Lere local government, the status is new, Federal Ministry of Trade & Investment is executing it and the amount allocated to it is ₦10, 000,000. Contact House of Representative member for more details.
While the information above is not detailed down to the specific locations of the project and certain areas need more clarification like in Nazangi village. With the same electrification project appearing twice and different amount allocated to it in the same year; constituents should engage their representatives for further details. As citizens, we must always remember that the quality of governance or representation we get is dependent on the quality of our participation. We must go out and own these constituency projects by getting details about the projects, effectively monitoring their execution and ensuring value for money.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Coalition of Association for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED)