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Senate wants N182.5 billion for constituency projects


Mohammed Ali Ndume

Mohammed Ali Ndume

• Each senator to go home with N1.7 billion from 2017 fiscal plan
• Move to get 2.5% of budget may cause executive, legislature rift

Through a fresh legislation, the Senate is planning to secure a more permanent source of funding for the controversial constituency projects that have always pitted the National Assembly against the Presidency.

Specifically, the lawmakers have started a move to create a Constituency Development Fund to be domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and financed through deductions from annual national revenues.

The Guardian learnt that already, a bill for the new legislation, tagged “Constituency Development Fund Bill 2016”, has been introduced to the Upper Chamber through its sponsor and Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume.

If the bill is passed into law, the Federal Government may forfeit 2.5 per cent of its annual budget as well as other monetary accruals to the fund. If this legislation becomes functional by next year, the 2.5 per cent of the N7.3 trillion budget for 2017 which is N182.5 billion will go for constituency projects.

And if this amount is meant only for the 109 members who make up the upper legislative chamber, each senator, without a perking order, will be taking home N1.7 billion for constituency projects. This amount is enough to build and equip a cottage hospital. And it is about 50 per cent of the N4 billion yearly budget of a teaching hospital. If the menace of corruption is ruled out, the bill may promote faster execution of capital projects to which the constituency funds are tied, because lawmakers whose constituencies benefit would directly monitor the projects to ensure that they progress.

But the move by the legislators may cause further rift between them and the executive arm of government which has the constitutional responsibilities of placing projects in budgets and executing them. The role of the National Assembly in this regard is to pass annual budgets.

It was learnt that the leadership of the National Assembly packaged the bill as a better and more acceptable arrangement to replace the earlier legislative plan to force the Federal Government to lose at least 20 per cent of its national budgets to the constituency projects.

Justifying the need to insert the constituency projects in the annual budgets, during a debate on a similar proposed law sponsored by Stella Oduah, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said: “I don’t think there is anything that ensures equity in the country like the constituency projects. Our responsibility is to provide the projects to our constituencies, full stop.”

Barely a week before it received the N7.3 trillion 2017 budget proposal from President Muhammadu Buhari on December 14, 2016, the Senate endorsed for further legislative work, a bill to reserve 20 per cent of annual budgets for National Assembly Constituency Projects.

Sponsored by Odua (PDP, Anambra North), the bill after, passing the second reading, was referred to the Senate committees on appropriation and finance, and is expected to be passed into law early in 2017.

The key provision in the bill which many described as “self-serving and over-ambitious”, is one which states that at least 20 per cent of annual budgets must be dedicated to constituency projects.

The groundswell of opposition to the bill from across the country made some senators to suggest alternative means of sourcing funds for the projects.

The Guardian learnt that the Ndume’s bill which is being processed as the alternative legislation is to be given accelerated treatment upon the resumption of the Senate from its three-week Christmas and New Year holidays.

The Ndume’s bill proposes the establishment of the Constituency Development Fund which shall be national, consisting of not less than 2.5 percent of all the Federal Government’s ordinary budget in every financial year.

The fund to be managed by the Department of Rural Development in the Ministry of Agriculture will also include the revenue ” accruing to or received by the department from any other source; or any money disbursed by the Federal Government to the department for even development and provision of rural infrastructure in the manner provided by this Act.”

According to the bill, “l.5 % and 1 % of the total revenue accruing to the Department under this Act shall be allocated for developmental projects at all federal constituencies and senatorial districts in the federation respectively.”

The bill empowers the department to perform other key functions particularly with regard to the Constituency Development Fund which include ensuring timely and efficient management of the fund; receiving and discussing list of proposed projects from the constituencies; ensuring the execution of approved projects to completion; and ensuring the compilation of proper records, returns and reports for the constituencies.

Other functions which the department is expected to perform are receiving and addressing complaints and disputes or where necessary refer such complaints to the appropriate government body or the National Assembly for investigation and resolution; considering project proposals submitted from various constituencies in accordance with the Act, approve for funding those projects that are consistent with the Act and disburse funds for the execution of the said projects;”

Section six of the new legislation specifically mandates the president to allocate funds for the (CDF).

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  • Comfortkay

    Please Vangurad educate us and show us the last ten years of constituency projects in any part of the country. Nigeria feed the senators enough with a very big salary that no politician elsewhere earn, they should not take us for granted and asked for another money.In fact we need to have a Referendum in this country about the extra money the law makers gets and no prove of anything. When the senators controls they government somebody should control them.

    • Comfort Destiny

      Dishonourable Senators will block the “Referendum.”

  • Comfort Destiny

    They are bunch of thieves and should be flogged openly.

  • Akin Malaolu

    They are still obstinate in stealing and corruption. And conceited in ignorance regarding the revolution ahead if Buhari should fail

  • Xanthos1

    this bastion of corruption needs to be stormed Bastille style…..Executive arm needs to be rescued from this Legislative blackmail….

  • Suleiman Alatise

    These buffoons will stop at nothing till they are destroyed by their greed.

  • MOOB

    I think there is a Ministry of Special Duties that oversees the implementation of the Constituency projects and entrusting the power now to a Department in the Ministry of Agriculture will make the Ministry to be too overloaded with functions.

  • Omolaso

    Buhari is allowing all these shenanigans under his nose? !!!!!!!!!!!!!. When the law is passed by the fantastically corrupt senators with tons of court cases hanging on their neck is Buhari going to sign this into law? The two evil houses has no business executing projects through any ministry. The ministries are another gigantic evil establishment that has grounded Nigeria for almost 50 years The politicians use these ministries to fleece Nigeria !!!!!!!!. For 50 years can any right thinking person show any where in the nation where a constituency projects can be physically identified? When the caliber of people like Saraki Odua are our law makers it simply shows Nigeria is a Banana Republic. And this is a JOKE of the year !!!!!

  • Horlarmelaykan Abdulfatahi

    What is the ruling on democracy and taking a leadership role in parliment or other levels of the democratical government? What is the ruling regarding voting for someone in democracy? How was the islamic state organized, and governed in the classical times?.
    Published Date: 2008-10-09
    Praise be to Allaah.
    Democracy is a man-made system, meaning rule by the people for the people. Thus it is contrary to Islam, because rule is for Allaah, the Most High, the Almighty, and it is not permissible to give legislative rights to any human being, no matter who he is.
    It says in Mawsoo’at al-Adyaan wa’l-Madhaahib al-Mu’aasirah (2/1066, 1067):
    Undoubtedly the democratic system is one of the modern forms of shirk, in terms of obedience and following, or legislation, as it denies the sovereignty of the Creator and His absolute right to issue laws, and ascribes that right to human beings. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
    “You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged) — you and your fathers — for which Allaah has sent down no authority. The command (or the judgement) is for none but Allaah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e. His Monotheism); that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not”
    [Yoosuf 12:40]
    “The decision is only for Allaah”
    [al-An’aam 6:57]

  • Horlarmelaykan Abdulfatahi

    The one who understands the true nature of the democratic system and the ruling thereon, then he nominates himself or someone else (for election) is approving of this system, and is working with it, is in grave danger, because the democratic system is contrary to Islam and approving of it and participating in it are actions that imply apostasy and being beyond the pale of Islam.
    But as for the one who nominates himself or nominates others in this system in order to join the parliament and enjoin good and forbid evil, and establish proof against them, and reduce its evil and corruption as much as he can, so that people of corruption and disbelievers in Allaah will not have free rein to spread mischief in the land and spoil people’s worldly interests and religious commitment, this is a matter that is subject to ijtihaad, according to the interests that it is hoped will be served by that.
    Some scholars are even of the view that getting involved in these elections is obligatory.
    Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on elections, and he replied: I think that elections are obligatory; we should appoint the one who we think is good, because if the good people abstain, who will take their place? Evil people will take their place, or neutral people in whom there is neither good nor evil, but they follow everyone who makes noise. So we have no choice but to choose those who we think are fit.
    If someone were to say: We chose someone but most of the parliament are not like that,
    We say: It does not matter. If Allaah blesses this one person and enables him to speak the truth in this parliament, he will undoubtedly have an effect. But what we need is to be sincere towards Allaah and the problem is that we rely too much on physical means and we do not listen to what Allaah says. So nominate the one who you think is good, and put your trust in Allaah. End quote.
    From Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftooh , no. 210
    The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas were asked:
    Is it permissible to vote in elections and nominate people for them? Please note that our country is ruled according to something other than that which Allaah revealed?
    They replied:
    It is not permissible for a Muslim to nominate himself in the hope that he can become part of a system which rules according to something other than that which Allaah has revealed and operates according to something other than the sharee’ah of Islam. It is not permissible for a Muslim to vote for him or for anyone else who will work in that government, unless the one who nominates himself or those who vote for him hope that by getting involved in that they will be able to change the system to one that operates according to the sharee’ah of Islam, and they are using this as a means to overcome the system of government, provided that the one who nominates himself will not accept any position after being elected except one that does not go against Islamic sharee’ah. End quote.
    Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Qa’ood.
    Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (23/406, 407
    They were also asked:
    As you know, here in Algeria we have what are called legislative elections. There are parties which call for Islamic rule, and there are others that do not want Islamic rule. What is the ruling on one who votes for something other than Islamic rule even though he prays?
    They replied:
    The Muslims in a country that is not governed according to Islamic sharee’ah should do their utmost and strive as much as they can to bring about rule according to Islamic sharee’ah, and they should unite in helping the party which is known will rule in accordance with Islamic sharee’ah. As for supporting one who calls for non-implementation of Islamic sharee’ah, that is not permissible, rather it may lead a person to kufr, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
    “And so judge (you O Muhammad ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ ) among them by what Allaah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you (O Muhammad ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ ) far away from some of that which Allaah has sent down to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allaah’s Will is to punish them for some sins of theirs. And truly, most of men are Faasiqoon (rebellious and disobedient to Allaah).
    50. Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allaah for a people who have firm Faith”
    [al-Maa’idah 5:49-50].
    Hence when Allaah stated that those who do not rule in accordance with Islamic sharee’ah are guilty of kufr, He warned against helping them or taking them as allies or close friends, and He commanded the believers to fear Him if they were truly believers. He says (interpretation of the meaning):
    “O you who believe! Take not as Awliyaa’ (protectors and helpers) those who take your religion as a mockery and fun from among those who received the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before you, and nor from among the disbelievers; and fear Allaah if you indeed are true believers”
    [al-Maa’idah 5:57]
    And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.
    Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas
    Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan
    Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (1/373).

  • Franklin Ojukwu

    What is the problems of these “vampires in suit and agbada?”

    Before demanding for 2.5% of the national budget, they should go back to their constituencies and produce a comprehensive list of successful projects carried out by their predecessors. I also think that the people that make up these constituencies should have a say in this bill, something like a referendum.

    We elected these people. So we have the right and power to demand from them the dividends of democracy. 1.7 billion naira should NOT be given to a Nigerian senator.