Since the inclusion of constituency projects into the budget content, legislators in each constituency annually identify the needs of their constituents and recommend same to the executive during budgeting. For instance, in 2016 alone, about N100 billion naira was appropriated for constituency projects. On paper, the legislators have no direct control over the award, financing and supervision of constituency projects; the responsibilities are shouldered by the appropriate agencies. In reality, however, evidence shows that constituency projects have been hijacked by some lawmakers for personal purposes; thereby defeating the original intent.
Findings reveal that some of the legislators connive with the executing agencies to front contractors who execute the projects on their behalf or to carry out projects that are not in line with the true needs of their constituents. Speaking to the anomaly, the ever-vocal former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, described constituency projects embarked upon by lawmakers as “corruption”. Also, the now-suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, posited that constituency projects have over the years become a “conduit pipe through which lawmakers embezzle money”.
A key reason why constituency projects have failed to achieve their purpose is that lawmakers do not carry-out widespread stakeholders consultation and proper needs assessment. Also, majority of citizens see constituency projects as the personal projects of their representatives; so they are nonchalant towards taking ownership of the projects by monitoring execution and evaluation of the impact of the project on the constituents.
The foregoing on the state of constituency project is the reality in Lere Local Government Area, under Kaduna North Senatorial District of Kaduna State. The Lere LGA is highly populated and host to the largest corn market in West Africa. Aside from the Senator representing the Senatorial zone, and unlike others where two local governments are merged to produce a representative member in the House of Representative, LGA has only one representative to itself. Monies have been voted over the years in the federal budget for constituency projects, but only a few projects have met the needs of the constituents. The high level of ignorance among the constituents about the number and details of constituency projects allocated to the constituency is to be blamed for poor participation and service delivery by their representatives, hence it has become expedient to provide the constituents of Lere with information on constituency projects captured in the 2017 budget.
Tracking the 2017 federal government constituency projects in Kaduna State’ revealed that there are nine constituency projects to be executed in Lere LGA.. These projects fall under the responsibility of representatives in the house of assembly namely Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi and Hon. Lawal Mohammed Rabiu.
Listed below are the constituency projects in LGA; the information contains the project code, title, status, agency, ministry and amount allocated:
ZIP021 – Supply of fertilizer in Lere LGA; the status of the project is new with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in charge of execution with the budgeted amount of ₦21,571,429.
ZIP443 – Free medical surgery in Lere LGA; the project is new and it is expected to be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Health with a ₦5,000,000 allocation.
ZIP773 – Construction of market square in Lere LGA; the Federal Ministry of Power, Works & Housing is executing the project with a ₦100,020,000 allocation.
ZIP961 – Rural electrification at Nazangi Village in Lere LGA; Project is ongoing, and the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology is in charge of execution with an allocation of ₦10, 000,000.
ZIP964 – Completion of rural electrification project at Nazangi Village in Lere LGA; the status of the project is ongoing, and the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology is in charge of execution with a ₦13,000,000 allocation.
ZIP2538 – Rural water resources supply (solar boreholes and overhead tanks projects in seven locations in Kaduna North Senatorial Districts) in Saminaka, Lere LGA. Project is executed by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with the amount allocated to the seven locations in the senatorial district pegged at ₦200,000,000.
ZIP2574 – Computer Centre in Gure/Kahugu ward in Lere LGA; the status of the project is new, and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is in charge of execution with the budgeted amount of ₦10, 000,000.
ZIP1988 – Training and empowerment of youth in Lere LGA; the project is new with the Federal Ministry of Trade & Investment in charge of execution and the amount allocated is ₦15, 000,000.
ZIP1988 – Training and empowerment for women in Lere LGA; the project is new, and the Federal Ministry of Trade & Investment is executing it with an allocation of ₦10, 000,000.
The information above is not detailed enough to identify specific locations of some of the project, especially as certain areas like Nazangi village need more clarification. Also, with the same electrification project appearing twice with different amounts allocated to it in the same year; constituents are encouraged to engage their representatives for further details. As citizens, we must always remember that the quality of governance or representation we get is dependent on the quality of our participation. We must go out and own these constituency projects by getting details about the projects and effectively monitoring their execution and ensuring value for money.