A bill that seeks to dedicate 20 percent of the annual national budget for constituency projects scaled second reading in the Senate, Thursday.
If approved and assented to before the passage of the N7.281trillion 2017 budget, it means that N1.4trillion of next year’s budget would be reserved for the National Assembly constituency projects.
Sponsored by Stella Odua (PDP, Anambra North), the bill has already been referred to the Senate Committees on Appropriation and Finance, and it is expected to be passed into law before the passage of the budget.
The upper chamber directed the committees to turn in their report on the bill within four weeks.
In her lead debate, Odua explained that it seeks to grant legal backing to the provision of Constituency Projects in the Annual Budget of the Federation by a minimum of 20percent.
“One of the unique features of our democratic journey so far, is the concept of ‘Constituency Projects’. Available statistics show that 70percent 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. If not for these projects, majority of federal constituencies would not have a single federal project, due to the lopsided nature of project allocation in the budget.
“The constituency project is not peculiar to Nigeria. There are similar mechanisms in other developing countries. For instance, the Constituency Development Fund has been institutionalised in Kenya, Uganda, India and Tanzania”.
The law maker further noted that while it is true that Local Government Councils have the responsibility of the development of local communities, the Federal Government has the overall responsibility of providing federal presence in these areas, through developmental projects and there is no way this can be achieved without the input of the parliamentarians who are the representatives of the people at the federal level.
The lawmaker said that the most interesting thing about this Constituency Projects Bill included the fact that projects under this Act, when passed, shall be community-based, in order to ensure that the benefits are available to all the inhabitants of a particular area.