OrderPaperToday – Deputy Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Mr. Chris Azubogu (PDP, Anambra) has accused members of the executive including ministers and aides in the presidency of hiding under the integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari to perpetuate corruption.
Mr. Azubogu attributed such corruption to the defects and shortcomings of the constituency projects scheme by lawmakers.

The lawmaker said this at a technical session on constituency projects organized by OrderPaper Nigeria with support from USAID’s Strengthening Advocacy and Civil Engagement (SACE) programme on Wednesday in Abuja.

Azubogu who noted that constituency projects are integral part of constitutional democracy, submitted that the main issue with the scheme is more of perception rather than facts.
The lawmaker without mincing words, also explained that the need for constituency projects is due to the fact that the local government system has failed, indicating that the states are usurping the roles of the local governments.

He however suggested that if the constituency projects are well conceived in terms of scope, cost and designed in line with the lifespan of the budget, the impact would be felt by the people.

He said: “the need for interventions in local government responsibilities shows that local government system has failed; because constituency projects can only have impacts if the communities and local government can take ownership of the projects

“Democracy must be hinged on accountability, transparency and inclusiveness. Constituency projects and the process must be continuously fine tuned; we focus most of the time on the 100billion naira Zonal Intervention Projects for lawmakers but what about the over N7trn funds under the Executives?

“Revelations during budget defense shows that civil servants are the most corrupt”.

The lawmaker although acknowledged instances of abuses by some lawmakers but regretted that the little abuses is what is getting the headlines while the successes by many others are not getting the right attention.

He however noted that the abuse within the system does not justify scrapping constituency projects, saying “constituency projects is convention, it is a global convention, unless you are not practicing democracy. Our democracy is still growing, so also our institutions.

“To reduce some of the shortcomings the House of Representatives set up a committee on constituency outreach to monitor constituency projects, from running of offices to implementation.”

He therefore called for more sensitization of the people on constituency projects, noting that because of lack of inclusiveness “health care centers built under Zonal interventions are not functional because local governments have no resources to own and take control.

“It is only through involvement of the communities and partnerships with agencies that constituency projects can be sustained, continuity is inherent in ownership.”

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