A bill which seeks to grant legal backing to the provision of constituency projects in the annual budget of the country by a minimum of 20 percent, on Wednesday scaled second reading in the Senate.
The proposed legislation, tagged, the Constituency Projects (Budgetary Provisions) Bill 2019, was sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (PDP Anambra North), during plenary.
Members of the National Assembly currently made N100billion constituency projects provision in the yearly national budget but poor releases from the executive usually frustrate the arrangement.
Against this backdrop, the new bill seeks to ensure that the 20 per cent of the fiscal document is devoted for the purpose of Infrastructural development, wealth creation and the fight against poverty at the constituency level.
Oduah, while leading the debate on the bill, noted that constituency development projects were meant to benefit the over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population in the rural areas.
She explained that the bill was also intended to correct the top-bottom approach of governance and replace it with the bottom-top approach, arguing that constituency projects were meant to attract federal presence to Nigerians.
“If not for these projects, majority of federal constituencies would not have a single federal project due to lopsided nature of project allocation in the budget.
“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 institutionalised in Kenya, Uganda, India and Tanzania.
“Instead of vilifying the National Assembly on the constituency project, people should advocate an institutionalise framework for the implementation of the constituency projects as in the case of Kenya.
“The bill is therefore an attempt at providing both institutional and legislative framework for the operation of constituency projects in Nigeria, thereby making it part of our national budget,” Oduah stressed.
She said that the number of projects to be included in the constituency projects submission form shall be a minimum of five and a maximum of 20 for every constituency in each financial year.
The lawmaker added that a joint project may be constructed for the benefit of two or more of the members constituencies, subject to the approval of the National Assembly members in those constituencies.
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