Reps: 30% of N60bn released for 2019 constituency projects
•Deny allegations on allocation of contracts to lawmakers firms
The House of Representatives on Monday disclosed that 30 percent of N60 billion appropriated for the implementation of the 2019 Zonal Intervention projects has so far been released by the Executive, contrary to the misgivings in the public domain.
Chairman, House Committee on Constituency Outreach, Hon. Bello Kaoje who disclosed this at a press briefing held in Abuja also denied allegations on the award of multi-billion naira Constituency contracts to private firms owned by the lawmakers adding that the contracts are awarded and implemented by various ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).
Hon. Kaoje who denied knowledge of any of the 360 members whose company get contracts in the previous Assemblies, argued that the Public Procurement Act prohibits such an act.
While acknowledging that the National Assembly suffers negative public perception, he assured that the mechanism is being put in place to ensure better tracking and full implementation of members’ zonal intervention projects.
In the bid to achieve the feat, he disclosed that all members of House have submitted the addresses of the location of their respective constituency offices.
According to the lawmaker, the takeaway from the retreat as contained in the communique released after were for the committee “to utilize its powers and mandate to ensure proper education and improve citizens an understanding of constituency projects and effective ways of engaging lawmakers on constituency project implementation. This will build public trust and promote democratic accountability.
“To ensure proper implementation and release of funds for members’ constituency projects in line with the demands of their constituents. The committee also commits to providing an updated database of constituency projects as allocated in the Appropriation Act annually for ease of monitoring and assessment of constituency projects, and;
“To deploy its oversight powers to ensure that members set up functional constituency offices as statutorily required. This will enable effective communication between constituents and their representatives and deepen legislative accountability.
“The Committee is committed to promoting regular engagement between constituents and their representatives to promote inclusive governance.”
While responding to questions on the audit of previous constituency projects, Hon. Kaoje stated that the Committee under his leadership will prioritize the projects of members of the 9th Assembly which affect the people living at the grassroots directly.
When asked about N40 million allocated to each member of the 9th Assembly as Quarterly allowance, Hon. Kaoje argued that only the Committee on Appropriations could provide details of the amount approved for members.