She also lamented that, in siting constituency projects, community needs were not taken into account,

By the People's Bishop Kenneth Obi

Earlier in August, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) beamed a searchlight on some members of the National Assembly over the utilisation of funds for constituency projects. Senators Godswill Akpabio and Isa Misau were at the centre of that petition.

While that was an excellent move, mismanagement of public funds needs to be taken more seriously than this. If we decide to wait for petitions before we checkmate the excesses of many lawmakers, such funds will continue ending up in their pocket.

Corroborating this, the Executive Director of Divine Era Development & Social Rights Initiative (DEDASRI), Oge Enwelum, said civil society organisations (CSOs) are all calling for the establishment of such panel.

She narrated how, during a recent community constituency project tracking conducted by the ICPC in partnership the CSOs, what they could count as constituency projects did not justify the huge expenditure.

She said: “During the field visits, we discovered a lot of abandoned projects across the state and also in other states where the ICPC works. So, we designed this particular programm to bring onboard communities to participate in taking ownership and monitoring constituency projects in their area. We discovered during the visits that the people didn’t have the idea of what constituency projects are all about.

“Once a project comes to their communities, they take it that it is a favour from the representatives; they don’t know that the projects are Federal Government money and they feel they don’t have any stake about that particular project.”

According to Enwelum, they were shocked by a discovery in one of the senatorial zones of Enugu State, where the senator allegedly locked up materials meant for constituency projects in his compound for almost a year, stressing that the intervention saw to their distribution.

She also lamented that, in siting constituency projects, community needs were not taken into account, adding that the engagement would enable communities to demand accountability from their representatives as well as tackle those social norms that promote corruption.

There’s only enough that the community can do. They can’t know when funds for constituency projects were disbursed, except when the lawmakers tell them. So, watchdogs like the ICPC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have significant roles to play in ensuring that these funds are put to good use.

They should set up a joint panel to track the funds from the point of disbursement to execution. It should date back to previous National Assemblies, and ensure that each lawmaker explains how the funds were utilized. And when they couldn’t, they should all cough out the funds.

Following the burial of Mr Corruption March 23rd, 2019 Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice (CRJ) is calling for the masses of Nigeria to wake up from Slumbering and demand accountability from there constituencies leadership to end suffering and smiling in Nigeria.

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_The People's Bishop Kenneth Obi, Edo COGIC Prelate and Chairman, Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice (CRJ) Imo State.
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