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Make constituency projects useful for Nigerians

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Since 1999, billions of naira have been allocated to constituency projects. According to Budgit, constituency projects are designed to extend the dividends of democratic governance to various constituency federal lawmakers in order to stimulate grassroots development.

Based on available data, some lawmakers have actually implemented their district projects. However, there are also records in which a number of constituency projects amounting to billions of naira have never been implemented. These facts have been established by a number of organizations.

To understand the implications of this, let us assume that constituency projects worth about N50 billion are not implemented annually. In two decades it will amount to N1 trillion. This is just a modest figure

In its report, Budgit Tracka shows that between 2009 and 2019, more than N1 trillion was allocated to constituency projects in Nigeria as it tracked 15,859 constituency projects in Nigeria’s 7,589 cities as of 2019. He announced the completion of 7,200 state public projects More than 200 projects worth billions of naira have been abandoned or unfinished.

Most recently, the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (ICPC) has accused Nigerian senators of redirecting more than N120 billion allocated to 2021 constituency projects in their various jurisdictions. The ICPC analyzed budgetary provisions for 2021 in key sectors such as education, water, health, energy, science and technology, environment and agriculture, and found that many projects were duplicated in just one budget cycle.

If projects worth 120 billion N120 billion had been redirected in just one year, how many projects would have been redirected from 1999 to the present? To understand the implications of this, let us assume that constituency projects worth about N50 billion are not implemented annually. In two decades it will amount to N1 trillion. This is just a modest figure.

As if to aggravate the situation, Nigeria’s constituency projects are shrouded in secrecy. First, the recipient regions are unaware of the projects, and this is due to the fact that the projects did not come from them. Second, the timing of the project is unknown to monitor its implementation. Third, federal representatives are far from the people they claim.

Since most of these lawmakers do not have positions, the electorate sees them only during the election campaign. After the camel will be easier to pass through the eye of the needle than the people to see their chosen ones.

In developed countries, it is not uncommon for representatives to influence the placement of projects in their domains. At best, they will only ensure the location of projects in the regions they represent. But here in Nigeria, lawmakers will both influence and enforce – a situation that leaves room for poor quality work and non-implementation of projects in many cases.

Why not call for the complete abolition of county projects, we believe that the processes of project identification, approval and implementation need to be significantly improved and made more transparent. The current system is quite opaque in the process and provides plenty of room for shadow practices.

Thus, the starting point for eliminating the opacity of constituency projects is the availability of a list of all projects to be implemented on the website of the National Assembly. Each project must be attached to the community, the names of the contractors, their contact details and the cost of the projects must be mentioned. Information should also include project implementation time.

Read also: The Lagos Blue Railway project is now 90% complete.

Another approach that can reform the current system is that the project should be relevant to the community in which it will be located. State and local authorities are also involved in projects, especially in rural areas. Thus, it will be sub-optimal to deploy and use resources if, for political reasons, the same projects are implemented by local authorities, state and federal elected officials. This explains why the documentation of these projects is relevant.

Constituency projects should not be limited to drilling wells, as there are many other ways these projects can be made complementary to existing projects in localities.

For example, a primary care center in a locality where equipment is lacking can be equipped by legislators so long that their activities are well documented and materials can be seen. This is becoming necessary due to the many problems affecting Nigerians that contribute to the low life expectancy of men and women in this country. Obviously, one such problem is the lack of medical care in rural areas.

Today, Nigeria faces food insecurity despite very lively youth and fertile soils across the country. One of the problems facing agriculture is the lack of tools and improved seedlings. Constituency projects can be designed to provide improved seedlings of farmers in farming communities. We can also talk about the equipment of schools that do not have teaching materials. We can certainly continue here.

Thus, constituency projects, in order to have a significant impact on the lives of Nigerians, must be free from the various machinations that currently visit them. There should also be a more public approach on the part of legislators. This is done to ensure that the voters’ projects serve their ultimate goal – to deliver democratic dividends to the Nigerian people, most of whom have now been replaced by the antics and selfishness of our politicians.

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