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Senate creates special fund for constituency projects


Sacks MDAs From Managing Constituency Projects
A new law being processed in the Senate has created a special fund dedicated to constituency projects. It automatically removed from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) powers to determine the funding, implementation and management of constituency projects initiated by federal lawmakers and accommodated in annual Federal budgets.

Sponsored by former Senate majority leader, Mohammed Aliu Ndume, the Bill seeks the establishment of a dedicated fund, which would be 2.5 per cent of the nation’s annual budget, and is to be managed solely by the Rural Development Department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The current practice encourages the capturing of projects lawmakers wish to be executed in their various constituencies in the budget, while the MDAs determine the contract award and execution.

The development had led to what National Assembly members described as discriminatory and selective full financial and execution of projects.

Lawmakers are presently unhappy that President Muhammadu Buhari had yet to release any amount from the N100b allocated for constituency projects funding in the 2019 budget.

To avert a repeat of this experience in future fiscal years, Ndume sponsored the “Constituency Development Fund Bill, 2019”, which scaled first reading on the floor of the red chamber on Tuesday.

The bill, according to a copy, obtained by The Guardian on Friday, seeks to introduce a regime that would streamline the management and implementation of constituencies development fund in the country.

Unlike the current practice, where MDAs are fully in charge, the new legislation seeks to entrust the execution of such projects in the hands of the Rural Development Department of the proposed agency.

The decisions on the projects to be implemented, according to the bill, would remain with the various constituencies, through the Constituency Development Project Advisory Committees set up for each federal constituency and senatorial district. 

The issue of Constituency Projects had always resulted in serious face-off between the executive and the National Assembly.

The Guardian had reported in September that the Senate was working on strategies to outwit the executive arm of government, regarding persistent feud over the matter of Constituency Projects.

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