A bill seeking to set aside 20 percent of the country’s annual budget for constituency projects scaled through second reading at the Senatey esterday Thursday.
If the bill becomes law, the constituency projects will get at least N1.4 trillion out of the 7.3trillion 2017 budget estimates to be presented to the National Assembly President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
The constituency projects are mainly for provision of feeder roads, schools rehabilitation, building of market stalls, boreholes, provision of empowerment items such as sewing machines, grinding machines, knitting machines as well as vehicles including motorcycles, tricycles and cars.
The ‘Constituency Projects Bill, 2016’ sponsored Senator Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra) seeks to grant legal backing to the provision forconstituency projects in the annual budget of the Federation a minimum of 20%.
Oduah said: “One of the unique features of our democratic journey so far is the concept of ‘Constituency Projects’. Available statistics show that 70 per cent of Nigerians live in the rural areas and the intention of the bill is to ensure that good governance is delivered to these crucial areas.The bill is also intended to correct the top-bottom approach of governance and replace it with the bottom top approach. Constituency project in recent time is one of the ways to attract federal presence to our people. The constituency project is not peculiar to Nigeria alone. There are similar mechanisms in other developing countries. For instance, the constituency development fund has been institutionalized in Kenya, Uganda, India and Tanzania,” The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Olusola Adeyeye advised that the 20 percent should be based on capital projects. This is what he said
“This is not money given to Senators or Reps, it is money meant for specific projects. At the moment, it is N100billion for 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal constituencies. That’s 1.5 percent of the Federal Budget.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said constituency projects ensure equity in the distribution of federal projects.
“I don’t think there is anything that ensures equity in the country like the constituency projects. Our responsibility is to provide the projects to our constituencies, full stop.”
The bill was refered to the committees on Finance and Appropriation for further legislative actions with a 4-week timeframe.