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Monday, 8 February 2016

How Federal Lawmakers Diverted N100bn Constituency Funds Audit Report Reveals

kandy wandy - 06:29:00
The audit report recently released by Media Support Centre in Abuja at the weekend alleged widespread fraud by members of the National Assembly in their handling of over N100 billion constituency projects in the last three years.

Consequently, the report called for immediate scrapping of constituency projects fund as currently structured and its concentration in the hand of the executive in pursuit of anti-graft campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had during his administration reportedly transferred the implementation of constituency projects to the Ministry Special Duties.
However, it was alleged that despite the transfer, most lawmakers out-smarted the executive by hijacking the projects as well as the funds earmarked for their implementation.
The output of the survey conducted in 2015 by Media Support Centre and made available to journalists, exposed a large scale abuse of the projects by federal lawmakers.
According to the report, budgets for the projects were not only shrouded in secrecy but also diverted by some lawmakers.
Speaking on the survey, the Executive Director of Media Support Centre, Mr. Wale Fatade, said the polls covered over N100 billion appropriated for constituency projects for the period of 2013 to 2015 only.
He said: “It would appear that nobody but the lawmakers know which projects are being executed with these monies and how much each costs.
“Our recent survey shows that a majority of Nigerians are not aware of the presence of these projects and mostly are calling for a reform. They either want the whole thing cancelled outright or that the lawmakers bring more clarity and openness to the process by publishing what each lawmakers get and for which project so that Nigerians could track these projects.”
He further disclosed that over 78 per cent of Nigerians voted for immediate scrapping of constituency projects with a view to reducing corruption.
“In 2015, the Media Support Centre conducted a series of polls to judge the reaction of Nigerians to the allowances that members of the national and state legislatures collect for executing constituency projects.
“The poll, which was part of its #TheyWorkForYou programme, was conducted online and offline, through questionnaires from July to November 2015 on a sample of 2,534 people residing in 20 states. The maximum sampling error is ± 2.5%.
The surveys focused on the following issues: transparency of the execution; relevance to their communities and life quality; sustainability of the projects as well as other major issues.
“A majority of respondents - 62 per cent- were not aware that lawmakers collect specific sums of money for constituency projects. Of those that are aware, still a majority only recently gained an understanding of the practice.
“This was strongest amongst people from urban areas with a higher education background and amongst people belonging to the 18-44 age group.
Most believe that the activities of the National Assembly specifically, is shrouded in secrecy and that lawmakers need to be more open about their allowances.
“Some respondents (15 per cent) became aware of these projects during the last campaign when incumbent lawmakers took to donating sewing machines, motorcycles and computers to their constituents as part of the push for re-election. Although they never benefited from these, but they read about it in newspapers or saw the presentations on TV.
Credit: This Day
“This tallies with our experience that nowhere could the lists of such projects handled by past lawmakers be found and that the National Assembly leadership actually goes out of its way to keep this hidden,” he added.

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