The legislature as an institution is usually not popular, because it does not have the mandate to impact directly on the lives and welfare of the people. The main function of the legislature is to make and protect laws.
However, the ‘things must go round’ syndrome has forced Nigerian lawmakers to devise means of ensuring that their constituents can at least pinpoint a project attracted to their constituency during their tenure in office.
Of course, they have a justification for it. Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had at different times defended the idea of constituency intervention projects, saying it guaranteed federal character, since no lawmaker could represent two constituencies.
Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with the explanation offered by the lawmakers, rather, I have always advocated that these things should be done right.
For instance it is a misnomer to expect the federal government to sink borehole in a local community, or to renovate secondary school classrooms, in the name of constituency projects. At best, legislators at the state level should ensure this and its likes, so that National Assembly members can focus on those things that concern the federal government.
Unfortunately, because of the level of poverty and dearth of social infrastructure, many lawmakers still lobby to get the federal government sink boreholes in local communities. Imagine if the hundreds of millions wasted on these misapplication of government function is budgeted for a federal medical centre, federal technical schools and skill acquisition centres or even a federal road in various federal constituencies.
This is what I mean, the state caucus from Kwara and Niger state can team-up to influence dualisation of Ilorin – Jebba road, so as to attract development to their area, or lawmakers from Osun and Ondo states can channel their intervention funds to the Akure airport and give you it a facelift.
Also, when the conceptual framework of a project is inappropriate, the execution becomes a matter of grace.
I buried my head in shame, as a Nigerian, when I listened to the member of the House of Representatives, representing Shiroro/Rafi/Munya constituency of Niger State, Adamu Chika, who accused officials of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing of fraud in the execution of his zonal intervention projects.
Chika, said he, in the 2016 and 2017 national budgets, attracted water supply projects of N30 million in each of the years, and domiciled same in the ministry, expressed disappointment with the manner in which the projects were shabbily executed.
According to him, each of the borehole, which should not cost more than N600,000 was in 2016 executed at about N2.2 million. In some cases Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) borehole project were located in the said communities to make-up for the projects that already had budgetary provision.
Unfortunately, according to the lawmaker all the boreholes collapsed, just weeks after they were said to have been completed.
This is N42 million down the drain, as the Federal Government separately cash backed the projects by N21 million in 2016, and N21 million in 2017.
I pity the academia turned politician, who, unlike some corrupt members have refused to introduce a contractor to execute the project to ensure his kickbacks.
This time around, it is not a case of the lawmaker collecting the fund through proxy, without executing the project.
I insist that the misnomer started from the conceptualisation of the projects. How on earth can a borehole water project in one remote community be put in the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing? Is it a power plant, federal highway or massive low cost estate?
Our lawmakers should redirect their thoughts, these reports are embarrassing and least expected from a gathering of educated people.
On the other hand, Chika debacle has exposed the other side of corruption in the execution of constituency intervention projects, he has been able to establish that not all lawmakers are directly or indirectly involved in the execution of these projects, hence, some opportunists in government ministries and agencies feed fat on the funds.
Incredible revelation from legislative investigation.
Sometimes I wonder what the rots in government would be if there were no legislative oversight.
I know many would at first disagree with my position on this, but ‘let me die before you bury me’.
An ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating oil revenue leakages and the activities of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), recently discovered that Sterling Global Oil Resources Limited a sister company of Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company, has no record of royalty payment, and have been taking advantage of identity similarity to short-changing the government.
Also, the sister company which has record of payment is indebted to the government up to about $30m, this is just a case among many.
Here is my argument, the parliament, entertains motions on everything that concerns government and its regulations, and could investigate any matter it deems fit. This in effect means that corrupt government agencies or cooperate organisations could bribe some corrupt lawmakers, or even all the lawmakers. But such agency or organisation should be prepared to continue with the bribery each time another House is constituted, the House has no limit to its investigation and issues will always be raised. Due to this, it is absolutely better for the agencies and cooperate organisations to abide by the laws and regulations and keep a clean record to avoid incessant inducement of young men and women who won’t even appreciate the largesse.
The many probes ongoing at the House of Representatives is a clear indication that government agencies have either connived with corporate organisations to short change the government, or they lack capacity to deliver on their mandate. Either ways, the lawmakers still deserve my commendation, as I hope that they would also minimise their compromise.
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