In a startling revelation, a report from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has unveiled that more than 100 constituency projects across 22 states in the country have been abandoned, despite having budgetary allocations.
This information was gleaned through an analysis of the 2022 Budget implementation carried out by Order Paper in collaboration with Budgit, the MacArthur Foundation, Tracka, and other CSOs in Nigeria.
Constituency projects, which are initiatives undertaken by elected members of the National Assembly in their respective constituencies using a portion of the national budget, are intended to address urgent needs and enhance the well-being of constituents. However, the investigation by Order Paper and other organizations has exposed a shocking disregard for these projects, raising concerns about the accountability and effective utilization of public funds.
The report also disclosed that out of the 3,691 constituency projects in the 22 states, only 2,037 have been completed, while 1,012 are still ongoing. Furthermore, 533 of these projects have not even started despite having budgetary allocations.
The affected states with abandoned projects include Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Taraba, Imo, Adamawa, Rivers, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
During a policy dialogue on parliamentary succession and constituency projects held in Abuja, the head of Tracka, Ayomide Ladipo, recommended diversification of projects, specifying project locations, and ensuring transparency, accountability, and responsiveness within Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) through needs assessment.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Barau I. Jibrin, also expressed the National Assembly’s commitment to collaborating with Civil Society Organizations and other government entities to strengthen zonal intervention projects, also known as constituency projects. He emphasized that these projects have brought rapid development to rural communities across the country, and there is a need to sustain and enhance them for the benefit of Nigerians.
“It would interest you to know that it was while I was chairing the appropriation committee at the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003 that the constituency projects were introduced to allow lawmakers to recommend projects based on the needs of their constituencies.
“Regardless of the little hitches, this practice has facilitated the spread of federal projects to the nooks and crannies of the country. But for this practice, many communities wouldn’t have felt the federal presence regarding projects. In most cases, constituency projects are based on the needs of communities as requested by the electorate through their representatives,” he said.
He mentioned that the National Assembly is dedicated to ensuring the seamless execution of both constituency and other projects across the nation, aiming to tackle some of the challenges faced in the country.
Furthermore, the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Bamidele Salam, expressed concern about the lack of continuity in the implementation of constituency projects. He urged for greater fiscal discipline to ensure that, before commencing any project, the necessary funds for its completion are readily available.
He said: “Even if lawmakers are not reelected the fact remains that the constituencies, the communities are there to be served by whoever occupies the public service. So, when the project is being implemented in a particular community and has not reached completion stage, it will be inappropriate for anyone who comes into office to terminate such a project or divert such a project, maybe to another community.
“There are problems of budgetary provision, there are some project that monies appropriated for them in the budget can not finish such project and they are meant to be rolled over into the subsequent appropriation year and so for example if a project cost 200 billion naira and only 70 million naira is available for this year, it means that next year they will make additional provision for such a project.
“Maybe going forward, we should have more fiscal discipline to ensure that before any project is starting, we are sure that there is enough funds to complete such a project. Yes, there may be fewer projects but we will do fewer projects that can start and complete within the period of the budgetary year.”
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