Against the backdrop of criticism by President Muhammadu Buhari over the impact of constituency projects; the Senate is moving closer to passing a bill to ensure 20% of the annual budget is set aside for constituency projects.
Recently, President Buhari flayed the constituency project scheme; stating that after spending N1 trillion in 10years, Nigerians are not feeling the impact.
The bill sponsored by Sen Stella Oduah seeks to grant legal backing; to the provision of constituency projects in the annual budget of the federation.
Currently, the sum of N100 billion is allocated annually for Zonal Intervention Projects popularly known as Constituency Project.
In her lead debate, Sen Oduah said the bill intends to correct the top-bottom approach of governance; and replace it with the bottom-top approach.
“Instead of vilifying the Senate on the constituency project; people should advocate for an institutional framework for the implementation of the constituency projects as it is the case in Kenya.
“This bill, therefore, is 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”, she explained.
According to her, the chamber “must seek for ways at institutionalizing it and that is what this bill seeks to provide.”
Expressing support to the bill, Senator Sabi Abdullahi noted that the subject of the bill is one; that requires not just attention but intervention.
He explained: “There are a lot of interpretations, misinformation and even disinformation out there; and it is very obvious that we must act in a manner that gives every constituency a sense of belonging and that national feeling.
He said the projects are used in response to votes cast during elections by Nigerians.
Abdullahi said: “The idea of getting it from bottom-up is what we have actually been doing; because when you go to campaign, you get a list of problems.”
Following the debate on the bill, when it was put to question by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the ‘ayes” had it.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance for further legislative action.