The Senate yesterday passed for second reading a bill seeking to legalise constituency projects of National Assembly members and dedicate 20 percent of annual national budgets to such zonal intervention projects.
Twenty percent of the N10.5 trillion 2020 budget the National Assembly passed is N2.1 trillion.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah (PDP, Anambra North), was titled “Constituency Projects (budgetary provisions) Bill, 2019”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, at the National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in Public Sector organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission last month, said there was little to show for over N1trn budgeted for constituency projects of the National Assembly members in the last 10 years.
Oduah said the intention of the bill was to ensure good governance delivery to Nigerians most of whom statistics showed are 70 percent rural dwellers.
She said the unique feature of the nation’s democratic journey so far was the concept of constituency projects.
According to her, constituency project is one of the ways of attracting federal presence to Nigerians from across the states.
“If not for these projects, majority of federal constituencies would not have a single federal project due to lopsided nature of project allocation in the budget,” the lawmaker said.
“Instead of vilifying the National Assembly on constituency projects, people should advocate an institutional framework for the implementation of the constituency projects as it is the case in Kenya.
“This bill, therefore, is an attempt at providing both institutional and legislative framework for the operation of constituency projects in Nigeria, thereby making it part of our national budget,” she said.
She said the proposed Act shall be community-based in order to ensure that the prospective benefits are available to all inhabitants of a particular area.
Oduah added that all projects under the proposed Act shall be defined as “projects” and may include costs related to feasibility studies, planning and design or other technical input for the project, but shall not include recurrent costs of a facility.
Projects under this category, according to her, may include the acquisition of vehicles, machinery, land, buildings and other equipment for the constituency.
“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 appropriate agencies other than the National Assembly,” she stressed.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan referred the bill to the Committee on Finance for further legislative work.