The bill seeking to legalize the constituency project of the National Assembly where 20 percent of the national budget will be directed henceforth has scaled the second reading in the Senate yesterday.
Accordingly, 20 percent of the N10.5 trillion of the year 2020 budget as passed by the National Assembly will amount to N2.1 trillion.
The bill which was sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (PDP Anambra North) titled “Constituency Projects (budgetary provision) Bill, 2019”
President Buhari last month during a summit organised by The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) titled “Diminishing Corruption in Public Sector” disclosed there was little or nothing to show when over N1 trillion was wasted on constituency project of the National Assembly members in the last 10 years.
Oduah argued the bill is intended to ensure good governance and democracy dividend reaches all the rural dwellers where 70% of Nigerians live.
She added that the unique feature of the Nigerian democracy lies in the constituency project.
According to her, the constituency project is the only available vehicle that will make the presence of government to all the general masses.
“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,” Oduwa added.
She revealed instead of attacking the National Assembly on the constituency project, the public should demand for a workable framework that will make it transparent and accountable in its implementation just like in the case of Kenya.
Therefore, the proposed bill will seek to address both the institutional and legislative framework that will make its operation workable which will henceforth be properly captured into the budget.
She explained that the project under the proposed Act shall be defined as “Project” and would include from the cost of visibility, design, planning and other technical requirement but devoid of the recurrent cost of the facility.
More so, the project will be community-based ensuring that the would-be beneficiaries must be the dwellers of the local community.
It should be noted that the general public understands that members of the National Assembly will only identify the need of their community they represent and recommend the same to the executive during budgeting, the lawmaker stressed.
Ultimately, the National Assembly member will have no any direct control over the implementation of such projects and the award, financing, and supervision, saying that could be referred to appropriate agency that will take care of that different from lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan referred the bill to the committee on finance for further consideration.