Nigerian lawmakers are in the process of passing a bill that will allocate more money to them for constituency projects.
Though the zonal intervention funds used in executing constituency projects by the lawmakers has been marred with cases of corruption, the lawmakers still passed a bill seeking to allocate 20 per cent of the national budget for constituency projects.
Premium Times reports that the bill, sponsored by Stella Odua, lawmaker representing Anambra North, comes on the heels of the outcry over non-existent and incomplete constituency projects proposed by lawmakers.
Nigerian lawmakers have been accused of using constituency projects as a means of embezzling public funds.
Only recently, President Muhammadu Buhari said billions of naira allocated to constituency projects had not been properly utilised – an allegation that the Senate Minority Leader dismissed as erroneous.
According to the bill, projects under the Act when passed shall be community-based in order to ensure that the prospective benefits are available to a wide cross-section of the inhabitants of a particular area.
It also states that any funding under the Act shall be for a completed project or a defined phase of a project and may include the acquisition of land and buildings.
“All projects shall be projects as defined under this Act when passed 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 may include the acquisition of vehicles, machinery and other equipment for the constituency,” are some provisions of the bill.
Leading the debate, Oduah said constituency projects is one of the unique features of Nigeria’s democratic journey so far.
She said the bill is intended to correct the top-bottom approach of governance and replace it with the bottom-top approach.
In his contribution, Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, said there are lots of misinterpretations and misinformation on constituency projects hence the need to act in a manner that gives every constituency a sense of belonging and a national feeling.
He said, “I think it is only very fair to ensure that every part of this country has that sense of belonging, those little interventions as democratic dividends.”