Constituency Projects Not Lawmakers’ Projects—Stella Oduah
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A former Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, has clarified that constituency projects are not projects of the National Assembly of its members, but for the communities, where they are situated.
Ms Oduah, a lawmaker in the Senate, made this clarification at a one-day public hearing on Fiscal Responsibility Commission (Establishment) Bill 2020, Constituency Projects (Budgeting Provision) Bill, 2019 and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (Establishment) Act CAP N166 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2020, in Abuja.
The Senator from Anambra State, who sponsored the bill, explained that when passed into law, the piece of legislation would have communities have access to the national budget and they would be adequately represented when it comes to infrastructural development.
“Constituency projects, if situated in our various communities, would give us a bottom-up growth in our economic aspiration,” she said, noting that they are initiated by the communities through their representatives at the parliament.
She, therefore, called for the total support of all stakeholders so that the bill can be passed into law.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, who declared the event opened, said that the value-adding potentials of constituency projects should not be undermined because of their ability to foster growth.
Mr Lawan, who was represented by the Chief Whip, Mr Orji Uzo Kalu, explained that the public hearing was a platform for all critical stakeholders to cross-fertilize ideas that could trigger growth from policy conception to execution.
While contributing to the discussions, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, declared that opaque appropriation for constituency projects needed to be regulated by the proposed Constituency Projects (Budgeting Provision) Bill 2019.
Mr Owasanoye, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr Esa Onoja, noted that, “Constituency projects are highly beneficial to the people but opaque appropriation for capacity building and empowerment, which enables abuse and diversion of public revenue, needs to be regulated by the proposed Act.”
“The bill should provide that projects must be completed to ensure that projects are not abandoned after the tenure of a particular legislation.”
In support of the proposed legislation, the ICPC boss stated that the commission, guided by its work on tracking constituency projects over the last two years, had submitted a 5-page memorandum.
On clauses 3 to 5 of the bill, which deal with the procedure for infusion of constituency projects in the budget, the agency proposed a Needs Analysis to guide the Appropriations Committee in the consideration and allocation of projects.
The ICPC boss frowned at the vague description of projects, saying that it was the bane of constituency projects, calling for adequate description to avoid switching and changing of the scope of the projects by MDAs, aides or sponsors.