N1trn lawmakers’ constituency projects in 10 years: lt’s Unconstitutional, illegal, says Prof. Sagay
The legislative arm of government has no business with such projects
“For 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari has set aside N100 billion for constituency project under the heading of Zonal Intervention Projects”
A scathing condemnation has continued to trail N1 trillion spent in the last 10 years by senators and House of Representatives members for constituency projects.
About N700 billion was spent in the last six years by the lawmakers for such projects.
For 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari has set aside N100 billion for constituency project under the heading of Zonal Intervention Projects.
ZIP is a fund under the service wide vote which is used in implementing interventionist projects in all the constituencies.
The projects mostly include renovation of health centres and schools, drilling of boreholes, road constructions and supply of materials for financial empowerment.
One of the critics of the projects, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), expressed an aversion to constituency projects, saying “the legislative arm of government has no business with such projects”.
Buhari had in 2019 lamented that the constituency fund was just a waste of money, saying there is nothing to show for it.
“It is on record that in the past 10 years N1tn has been appropriated for constituency projects, yet the impact of such huge spending on the lives and welfare of ordinary Nigerians can hardly be seen,” he had remarked.
Sagay said: “I have always been opposed to constituency projects because first, National Assembly should not be involved in projects at all.
“So, it is an invasion of the executive sphere. It is just how to lay their hands on more money. That is the whole idea.
“But we have the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission that is up to the task. So, if they take the money, the ICPC will monitor them. Many of them have been taken to court, either for not utilising the funds properly or misapplying them.
“For example, money that is meant for medical equipment was diverted to the house of a legislator. Same for some farm machines in an attempt to either covert the money or misuse it.
“So, now that the ICPC is on their trail, they will find it difficult to engage in this adventure of trying to involve themselves in executive duty of awarding contracts and construction of infrastructure.”
On why Buhari still appropriated N100 billion in 2022 budget for constituency projects, Sagay, who described it as unconstitutional, said the lawmakers could frustrate Buhari if he failed to approve funds for their constituency projects.
Calling them blackmailers, Sagay said: “It is a Nigeria thing, it is unconstitutional, it is illegal but we do it because they are blackmailing the executive that ‘if you don’t give it to us, we will not approve any other thing you bring into the budget.’
“But thank God the ICPC is on their trail.”