Since the transition to democratic government in 1999, trillions of public funds have been allocated to Constituency Projects as recommended by Lawmakers in the legislative arm of the government. However, for many reasons, allegations of corruption, embezzlement, and other financial malpractices abound in this particular intervention project.
Through the constituency project, developmental projects should not be found lacking all over the country as they ought to be nominated and overseen by Senators and Honourable members of the two hallowed Chambers. It’s one medium in which citizens can reap the returns of the democratic system of government being practised in the country.
A report from the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission in 2019 shows that over 2 trillion Naira has been expended on legislators-backed constituency projects since 1999. 100 billion Naira was proposed for the implementation of Constituency projects in the 2022 budget alone.
However, despite the massive influx of resources into this initiative, discrepancies in handling these projects are pretty popular in this part of the world. The repeated use of substandard items and the poor maintenance culture in our clime are just factors that affect Constituency projects in Nigeria.
Lack of adequate oversight on these projects has led to their non-implementation, even though allocation has been made to fund them. This act is a blatant waste of meagre government resources and corruption in various areas.
BudgIT reported that the body trailed 3265 projects from January 2020 to June 2021, and only 1308 have been completed. However, further information disclosed by the body says that 427 were still being carried out, 133 projects are in a decrepit state, 643 projects are yet to commence, and 774 project locations are currently unknown.
At times, empowerment items are kept by Lawmakers and refuse to be distributed except during elections where they are utilised for personal reasons. These materials are held and then budgeted for at times in the subsequent budget cycle. In August 2019, the ICPC recovered items such as motorbikes, grinding machines and tricycles, estimated to be 117 million Naira, stored in a compound reported belonging to senator Chukwuka Utazi who is representing Enugu North Senatorial District, Enugu state.
In some cases, some Lawmakers enrich themselves in different ways by parading as contractors or using their families as cronies to carry out projects. For example, the Cable report in 2022 implicated a senator representing Benue North-East senatorial district where the project he sponsored belonged to City Science and Technical Academy, a school he owns.
Sometimes, projects are being constructed on the site of the Lawmakers, and their companies are being used as contractors to carry out tasks. As a result, mismanagement of funds becomes the norm, and the shoddy execution of projects results from these actions. For example, a report from the ICPC indicated the shoddy project executed in Kaduna Central after 49.9 million Naira was approved to build it. The body reprimanded the completed project to be a cubicle instead of the Large hall intended to be made.
Lawmakers, Contractors and other advocates for reform have a considerable role in making certain the proper utilisation of resources budgeted and allocated to developmental projects in various Constituencies.
The government’s legislative sector should initiate the creation of special courts, which will be responsible for the speedy trial of corruption cases. When put in place and adequately effected, this will serve as deterrence to other individuals willing to stain their names and affect the lives of ordinary citizens of Nigeria.