By Augustine Osayande
A bill for an Act to provide for the inclusion of constituency projects in the annual budget of the Federation has passed second reading at the Senate.
Leading the debate, Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North) said the bill seek to grant legal backing to the provision of constituency projects in the annual budget by a minimum of 20 percent of the total budget.
She said available statistics show that 70 percent 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” Oduah said.
She further stated that constituency projects are one of the ways to attract federal presence to the local people.
“If not for these projects, majority of the federal constituencies would not have a single federal project due to lopsided nature of project allocation in the budget” Oduah added.
The Senator said there is no way executives can provide developmental projects in the local areas without the input of the parliamentarians who are the representative of the people at the federal level. She said most legislators around the world angle for such projects to appeal to the voters in their constituents.
She also stated that there have been misconceptions, misinterpretation and judgment of constituency projects administration in Nigeria. “This and indeed some other factors have painted the hallowed chambers of National Assembly in bad light” Oduah said.
In his contribution, chief whip of the Senate Olusola Adeyeye supported the bill. He said legislators are not asking for the execution of the projects and people should not think that the move is about getting contracts for the lawmakers.
The chief whip expressed worry over an aspect of the bill saying that the constituency projects shall constitute 20 percent of the annual budget. He proposed that it should 20 percent of the capital votes.
In his reaction the Senate President Bukola Saraki commended Senator Stella Oduah for bringing the bill, adding that it is their responsibility to provide projects for their constituency.