The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has questioned the N5.6bn budget request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice for zonal constituency projects, saying both ministries has no business with constituency project execution.
A statement signed by the spokesperson for the commission, Rasheedat Okoduwa, said the commission chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the revelation at a round-table forum held to promote ‘My constituency, my project’ initiative of the commission.
Owasanoye said while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inserted N2.9bn in its 2019 budget for the execution of zonal constituency projects, the Ministry of Justice submitted a budget request of N2.7bn.
He stressed that the requests of both ministries exposed the abnormality synonymous with the idea of constituency projects in the country.
The statement said, “Owasanoye revealed that a breakdown of the 2019 allocation for zonal interventional projects shows that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would spend N2.9bn on constituency projects.
“He added that the allocation of N2.7bn to the Ministry of Justice in the same budget brings to the fore, some of the anomalies surrounding the implementation of constituency projects across the country.
“He was concerned that constituency projects, which principally were projects and empowerment programmes designed to bring development to rural communities within the country, had been included in the budgets of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other non-relevant ministries and agencies.
“The ICPC chairman asked, ‘What is constituency project doing in Foreign Affairs? We will ask questions with this kind of allocation.’ He further revealed that only about 60 per cent of constituency projects have been completed with a lot of them executed in shoddy ways due to poor technical designs, impositions and other sundry irregularities.”
The statement noted that the ICPC chairman called for the handover of zonal intervention projects to local government authorities upon completion for effective maintenance and sustainability of the projects, while also reiterating that the commission would continue to track all projects funded by the Federal Government.
Owasanoye said, “If somebody had nominated a project and succeeded in getting the project to the community, it is not the duty of the person to maintain it. Communities need to understand that it was public fund that was used. They need to take ownership. We recommend that the project needs to be handed over to the local government for the community to take over.”
Also at the event, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Garba Abari, called for citizens’ participation in constituency projects. He noted that the active involvement of the communities in planning and execution of constituency projects would remove the issues of corruption and abuse.