Buhari Keeps Constituency Projects in Budgets for Fear of Blackmail from Legislators, Says Sagay
President Muhammadu Buhari knows that that it is “unconstitutional” and “illegal” for members of the National Assembly to execute Constituency Projects” but keeps imputing them in national budgets because he fears that the legislators will blackmail him if he does not.
Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), revealed this to The Punch, saying he is opposed to constituency projects, adding that the legislative arm of government should have no business executing such projects.
“It is a Nigeria thing, it is unconstitutional, it is illegal but we do it because they are blackmailing the executive that ‘if you don’t give it to us, we will not approve any other thing you bring into the budget.’ But thank God the ICPC is on their trail,” Sagay added.
The president has set aside N100bn for constituency projects of National Assembly members in the proposed 2022 budget.
The projects, under the heading, Zonal Intervention Projects, bring the total to N700bn in the last six years.
The ZIP is a fund under the service wide vote which is used in implementing interventionist projects across all constituencies across the country. The projects mostly include renovation of health centres and schools, drilling of boreholes, road constructions and supply of materials for financial empowerment.
Although the projects are usually executed by federal government agencies, the contractors are most times nominated by lawmakers.
Buhari had in 2019 lamented that the constituency fund was just a waste of money, adding that there was nothing to show for it.
He had said, “It is on record that in the past 10 years N1tn has been appropriated for constituency projects, yet the impact of such huge spending on the lives and welfare of ordinary Nigerians can hardly be seen.”
Sagay said, “I have always been opposed to constituency projects because first, National Assembly should not be involved in projects at all. So, it is an invasion of the executive sphere. It is just how to lay their hands on more money. That is the whole idea.
“But we have the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission that is up to the task. So, if they take the money, the ICPC will monitor them. Many of them have been taken to court, either for not utilising the funds properly or misapplying them.
“For example, money that is meant for medical equipment was diverted to the house of a legislator. Same for some farm machines in an attempt to either covert the money or misuse it. So, now that the ICPC is on their trail, they will find it difficult to engage in this adventure of trying to involve themselves in executive duty of awarding contracts and construction of infrastructure.”
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