In a shocking revelation, a report by Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, has disclosed that more than 100 constituency projects in 22 states across the country have been left abandoned despite budgetary allocations.
The findings were based on an analysis of the 2022 Budget implementation done by Order Paper in partnership with Budgit, MacArthur Foundation, Tracka, among other CSOs in the country.
Vanguard reports that constituency projects are initiatives undertaken by elected members of the National Assembly in their respective constituencies, using a portion of the national budget allocated to them. These projects are meant to address pressing needs and improve the livelihoods of the constituents.
However, the investigation by the Order Paper and others has exposed a startling neglect of these projects, raising concerns about accountability and the efficient utilization of public funds.
The report furthermore revealed that of the 3,691 constituency projects in the 22 states, only 2, 037 were completed while 1,012 are still ongoing.
Also, 533 of those constituency projects have not commenced yet despite budgetary allocations for those projects.
According to the report, the affected states with abandoned projects include: Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Taraba, Imo, Adamawa, Rivers and FCT.
Speaking during a policy dialogue on parliamentary succession and constituency projects, held on Wednesday in Abuja, the head, Tracka, Ayomide Ladipo, among other things, recommended diversification of projects, Specification of Project Locations, and Transparent, Accountable, and Responsive MDA, and Needs Assessment.”
On his part, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Barau I. Jibrin also reiterated the commitment of the National Assembly to partner with Civil Society Organizations and other governmental organizations to strengthen zonal intervention projects, otherwise known as constituency projects.
Represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Ismail Mudashir, the Deputy President of the Senate said rural communities have been experiencing rapid development across the country courtesy of constituency projects, hence the need to sustain and improve it for the benefit of Nigerians.
“It would interest you to know that it was while I was chairing the appropriation committee at the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003 that the constituency projects were introduced to allow lawmakers to recommend projects based on the needs of their constituencies.
“Regardless of the little hitches, this practice has facilitated the spread of federal projects to the nooks and crannies of the country. But for this practice, many communities wouldn’t have felt the federal presence regarding projects. In most cases, constituency projects are based on the needs of communities as requested by the electorate through their representatives,” he said.
He said that the National Assembly is committed to ensuring the smooth implementation of the constituency and other projects in the country to address some of the challenges in the country.
Also speaking, the Chairman, House Committee of Public Accounts, Bamidele Salam, while bemoaning lack of continuity in constituency project implementation, called for more fiscal discipline to ensure that before any project is starting, the fund to complete it is available.
He said: “Even if lawmakers are not reelected the fact remains that the constituencies, the communities are there to be served by whoever occupies the public service. So, when the project is being implemented in a particular community and has not reached completion stage, it will be inappropriate for anyone who comes into office to terminate such a project or divert such a project, maybe to another community.
“There are problems of budgetary provision, there are some project that monies appropriated for them in the budget can not finish such project and they are meant to be rolled over into the subsequent appropriation year and so for example if a project cost 200 billion naira and only 70 million naira is available for this year, it means that next year they will make additional provision for such a project.
“Maybe going forward, we should have more fiscal discipline to ensure that before any project is starting, we are sure that there is enough funds to complete such a project. Yes, there may be fewer projects but we will do fewer projects that can start and complete within the period of the budgetary year.”
BREAKING NEWS: PDP’s Diri Wins Bayelsa Gov Election
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Douye Diri, has been declared the winner of the State governorship election held last Saturday.
The Returning Officer, Prof Faruq Kuta, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Of Technology, Minna, announced Diri winner of the poll at the collation centre of the election on Monday.
Diri polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 110,108 votes while the Labour Party polled 905 votes.
Plateau: Protesters Storm S’ Court Over Sack Of Four PDP Members From NASS
Over 1000 protesters, on Monday, besieged the Supreme Court to register their displeasure over the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked four members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, from the National Assembly, based on a pre-election dispute.
The placard and banner-wielding groups, under the aegis of Coalition for Justice in Africa, CJA, submitted a protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
According to the protesters, the appellate court, by its judgement, thwarted the wish of electorates in Plateau state, when it declared candidates that lost the National Assembly elections that held on February 25, as winners of the legislative seats.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the protest letter was submitted to the CJN, the National President of the CJA, Dr. Daniel Okwa, maintained that the judgement of the appellate court was capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
He said the group was at the apex court to seek the intervention of the CJN, alleging that the verdicts that removed all the PDP federal lawmakers were influenced by some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The protest letter, which was obtained by Vanguard, read in part: “The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that the judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja is a case of injustice, else, how could one explain a situation where lawmakers of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would boast and predict the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment even before the pronouncement.
“This is unacceptable and indicates that the justice regime in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. What happened in Plateau State is an aberration of immeasurable proportion. There is a distinction between a pre-election matter and a post-election matter.
“The Supreme Court has established this fact on several occasions. It is now a wonder why the Appeal Court would act otherwise and in a despicable manner that tends to truncate our nascent democracy.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice entirely condemns the actions of the justices of the Appeal Court that sat in Abuja. They displayed insensitivity to the electoral choices of the people. This is a worrisome trend that the Chief Justice of Nigeria must address.
“This is on the heels that the Judiciary, the world over, is regarded as the last hope of the commoner. This presupposes that it is the only place the commoner can get justice. The function of the Judiciary is not to twist the truth or fabricate facts but to interpret the law. The consequence of the interpretation of the law is justice.
“However, what played out in Plateau state negates the Judiciary’s position as the common’s last hope. The Judiciary is for sale to the highest bidder in Nigeria, if such positions could be taken without recourse to the implication of such on the psychological state of the people.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this protest to drive the point that justice in Nigeria should not be reserved for a section of the country or any political party. What happened in Plateau should not be allowed to stand or repeat itself. The implication of such is that the reputation of the judicial arm of government would be eroded.”
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, okayed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in the state that emerged on the platform of the PDP.
The panel based its decision on failure of the PDP to fully comply with a court that was made in 2022, which it said directed the party to conduct congress in the 17 Local Government Areas in the state.
It, therefore, held that though the lawmakers won their respective seats during the National Assembly election that held on February 25, all the scores that were credited them, amounted to wasted votes.
It ordered that candidates that got the second majority lawful votes at the election, should be sworn in as winners of the legislative seats.
Canada’s Abuja, Lagos Visa Centres Open – High Commission
The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria has said its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open for the processing of immigration, refugee and citizenship applications.
The Canadian High Commission had on Tuesday announced the suspension of operations in its Abuja office following a fire incident at its generator house, which claimed two lives on Monday.
Nigerians had expressed fear that the operations suspension would hamper visa application processes.
But in a statement posted on its X handle on Thursday, the Canadian High Commission clarified that its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open and operational.
In the statement by its public affairs staff, Demilade Kosemani, the commission said, “As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear colleague from the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, please note the following information below:
“Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada clients: processing of applications continues. Regardless of the suspension of operations at the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos remain open.”
Meanwhile, a travel agency, , TMT Travels and Tours Limited, has sympathised with the Canadian High Commission over the Monday tragic fire incident.
In a statement on Thursday the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Collins Onukwubiri, said, “We at TMT Travels and Tours Limited shares in the grief and sense of loss of the Canadian embassy in Abuja. The partial burning of the Canadian embassy in Abuja and the death of two workers there was most unfortunate.
“Canada, as a major player in the Nigeria’s travel and tours business, is an integral player in Nigeria’s economy. We know how devastating this unfortunate incident is to them but we want to say that we stand with them in this time and always. We specially condole with the families of the two persons who died in the process.”