In its bid to ensure that Nigerians receive the full benefits of funds appropriated for federal legislators’ constituency projects by the federal government, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has launched its Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG).
The initiative is a collaboration of the Commission with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Media and other stakeholders, such as the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), to track constituency projects implementation and performance in the various localities across the country.
The launch which took place at the Commission’s headquarters recently, had grassroots organisations, investigative journalists, mainstream media and the other stakeholders drawn from different states in attendance.
The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, while introducing the CPTG explained that constituency projects came about as a result of promises made by legislators during electioneering campaigns in which they pledge to bring development closer to their people.
To achieve this, he said,”certain specific projects are budgeted and appropriated for in the constituency of each legislator. The funds for these projects are, however, domiciled with the relevant MDAs for their implementation which is required to go through the regular statutory procurement processes”.
Owasanoye stated that over the years, there had been increased complaints from citizens regarding shoddy completion, non-completion or outright non-existence of some of these projects in spite of huge fund releases by government, suggesting that the projects could have been sabotaged at the procurement stage as companies and contractors fronting for legislators representing particular constituencies were probably pushed forward for the contract awards.
So in his opinion, the poor delivery of such constituency projects necessitated the formation of the CPTG.
Prof. Owasanoye gave the assurance that the CPTG would investigate fraudulent procurement practices in the award of contracts for constituency projects, make recoveries on projects and contracts confirmed to have been inflated or in which contractors under-performed or did not perform at all.
In a brief presentation on The Role of the Media in Tracking Constituency Projects, Alhaji Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Region of The Nation newspapers, emphasized the need for the media to create awareness for constituency projects implementation.
He said that most beneficiaries of such projects were usually not aware of the award of the contracts, and that the lawmakers take advantage of that to divert funds meant for the projects.
Alhaji Alli promised that the media would follow the funds for constituency projects at all levels, beam their searchlight on the MDAs executing the projects and collaborate with civil society organisations, anti-corruption agencies, and communities to ensure full delivery of this dividend of democracy to the people.
President of NIQS, Mr. Obafemi Onashile, in his address on The Role of NIQS in Tracking Constituency Projects, said that the institute always insisted on value for money and transparency in the industry.
Mr. Obafemi pledged the institute’s support for the initiative and said that the task would be taken as a national assignment.
He also promised that NIQS would organize trainings on the fundamentals of procurement in the construction industry for officers of the commission.