By Tordue Salem
ABUJA—The House of Representatives has raised an ad-hoc committee to investigate reasons behind the neglect of Millennium Development Goals and federal constituency projects since 2008.
The committee was raised after a motion sponsored by Rep. Leo Ogor (PDP Isoko/Delta) and 18 others and seconded by Rep. Mustapha Ahmed (PDP/Bauchi) was adopted.
“The Constituency projects by their very nature and true meaning are projects to be executed in all federal constituencies across the nation.”
The lawmaker stated that “members of the National Assembly have been restricted to merely suggesting projects for inclusion as constituency projects in the national budget since 2003 till date.”
The lawmaker told Nigerians that “it is the executive arm of government that expend the funds so appropriated to execute the projects in the constituencies.”
He expressed “indignation, the misconception of some members of the public on funds meant for constituency projects.”
The mover of the motion was worried that “in the face of public criticism of the National Assembly, the executive arm of government has kept mute and has refused to clarify the criticisms occasioned by their inactions.”
He said the House was “concerned that the manner the executive arm of the Federal Government has handled the issue of constituency projects in the country has left some members of the public with the notion that the funds for the projects are paid to members of the National Assembly”.
The lawmaker said he was concerned that “the failure of the executive arm of government to own up publicly to their responsibility as regards the execution of constituency projects is the reason some members of the public have continued to accuse members of the National Assembly as having pocketed the monies meant for constituency projects”
Mr. Ogor pointed out that “as Nigerians, we must be guided by law. The freedom of one man ends where the freedom of another man starts.
“Under section 80(4) of the 1999 Constitution, all monies must accruable to the federation must go the Federation Account, not to the pockets of lawmakers.
“It is from there that these funds are drawn by the Executive Arm of Government execute projects after the approval of the National Assembly is given.
“The job of the National Assembly ends with the nomination of projects; members of the National Assembly have no business nominating contractors for these projects”, he said.
He regretted that “petitions are even pending at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against lawmakers over constituency projects, even when wwe don’t anything about these projects”.
Buttressing the point, Rep. Eziuche Ubani contended that “this misconception has lingered on for a very long time, because many members believe that members take money from government to execute projects, and again, the public tend to believe everything they read in the papers. Even the Civil Society people that should know better, go away with that belief.
“We are not contractors, so we need to compel the Minister of Finance to come here and clear the airs,” he said.
Over 15 lawmakers who spoke on the same issue arrived at that conclusion.