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CONSTITUENCY PROJECTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY

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Senate refuses Kogi status of oil producing state

Many enlightened Nigerians have been questioning the ideals of constituency projects being undertaken by members of the National Assembly. Critics have described the concept and its implementation as another cesspool of corruption by politicians and contractors. The concept is actually anchored on fraudulent political patronage; federal law makers (Senators and members of the House of Representatives) insert certain developmental projects located in their constituencies into the national budget as a reward system to the electorate.

Constituency or whatever developmental project falls within the purview of executive responsibility. By design, the motive of this type of project initiated by legislators is concealed in the fact that politicians want to dangle constituency projects as carrots to the electorate so that when they come back in next round of elections, they have a pointy to prove regarding how effective they have been serving their constituents.

While the idea may not be bad in itself, its implementation strategy has been most suspicious and for obvious reasons. Different reports have been alleging complicity between some law makers and contractors awarded to execute constituency projects pointing out that they corruptly enrich themselves and abandon such oriented projects. How do we track these constituency projects? How are these projects monitored and handlers made to account for them?

It is on this note that the recent statement by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) vowing to prosecute suspected politicians and contractors who have diverted funds for Constituency Projects in different parts of the country is most remarkable.

Speaking during the launch of ”Constituency Projects Tracking Group”, the chairman of the commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye said that the aim of the campaign was to ensure that contractors and their accomplices either complete the projects or return the money to the federal coffer. According to him, “Affected companies and their directors will also be prosecuted. We also hope to publish the names of those behind the project failures for possible social sanctions in their communities.’’

The commission which he said would work with the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) will ensure that affected projects are evaluated “using agreed criteria and parameters which will include the amount of money appropriated and released for such projects’’. To this end, a number of ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) have been earmarked.

The ICPC chair also observed that “Such grand corruption can be found in diversion or misapplication of funds for constituency projects, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Universal Basic Health, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) among others.”

Indeed, this is a welcomed development by all standards and we want to say categorically that we will support the advocacy. But we must challenge the new leadership of commission to mean what it says by matching words with requisite actions.

The ICPC, by design, is supposed to be one of the leading anti-corruption agencies of government under the current democratic dispensation; however, over the years, it has been reduced to a toothless bulldog that barks with a loud noise but without biting. Nigerians want to see the commission being proactive in its fight against corruption. The commission needs to reinvent itself and it’s Constituency Projects Tracking Group advocacy should be decisively pursued with patriotic zeal and commitment in order to succeed.

QUOTE

The ICPC, by design, is supposed to be one of the leading anti-corruption agencies of government under the current democratic dispensation; however, over the years, it has been reduced to a toothless bulldog that barks with a loud noise but without biting. Nigerians want to see the commission being proactive in its fight against corruption. The commission needs to reinvent itself and it’s Constituency Projects Tracking Group advocacy should be decisively pursued with patriotic zeal and commitment in order to succeed

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