BY Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives has moved for the establishment of Nigeria’s Constituencies Development Fund, as a Bill to that effect passed second reading yesterday.
If established, the Fund would ensure even development of the country’s 360 Federal Constituencies at the same pace.
It would also ensure an annual budgetary allocation in Nigeria’s appropriation Act.
Promoter of the proposed legislation, Ben Nwankwo, while leading debate on its general principles, argued that over 70 per cent of Nigerians lived in rural communities which the existing Federal Constituencies covered but were hardly feeling the presence of government.
According to him, the establishment of the Fund will address a lot of imbalances as provided for through the annual national budget, by ensuring that specific projects and programmes are designed to meet the people’s specific needs.
Citing sections 13 and 16 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to buttress his argument, the lawmaker stated that if established, the Fund would enhance economic activities for the improvement of the people’s lives all through the Federal Constituencies.
Speaking further, he said the Bill was workable, as well as equality based, adding that similar plans were being implemented in other nations of the world.
Also speaking in support of the Bill, Sunday Adepoju, PDP, Oyo, said the parliament had been passing budgets annually, which were not being implemented for the direct benefit of majority of Nigerians, pointing out that the proposed law would ensure that presence of governance was felt more.
Ossai Nicholas Ossai in his submissions, described the proposal as a call for “participatory democracy” as well as constituency-driven, which would enhance the economy of the country, and consolidate government’s development agenda.
Others who spoke in support of the Bill were Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi and Fort Dike, with the duo saying the Fund would lay the foundation for real development in the country.
The Bill, after scaling second reading, was subsequently referred to the Committees on Constituency Outreach and Justice for further legislative action by the presiding officer, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.