THE Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District Ibrahim Oloriegbe on Thursday said the creation of a new law would not put an end to the challenge of continuous neglect of constituency projects in the country.
Oloriegbe said rather, the vital solutions would be to ensure resources are sufficiently made available for the projects, the respective lawmakers to partner with the relevant agencies, including the Budget Office of the Federation and for the host community to take ownership of the projects.
He spoke during a panel session at a policy dialogue on constituency projects and the 2023 electioneering campaign. The discourse was organised by the Order Paper in partnership with BudgIT, with support from the MacArthur Foundation in Abuja.
He admitted that most lawmakers lack proper orientation on the intervention projects, attributing this to reasons why there are a lot of abandoned projects in the country.
“Those who address projects, particularly legislature as part of induction should be briefed on how to go about projects understanding the budget system, and understanding the location,” he asserted.
Oloriegbe identified the health sector as the most affected stressing that many lawmakers were not aware of the needs of their people and often carried out projects without the participation of the local or state government, thus resulting in ownership conflicts and then abandonment.
“This is common in health, but it happens in several others. In health because everyone wants to have a health facility in their community without proper ownership from the beginning. If you want to have basic health, which is a Primary Health Center before you start you are meant to meet with the primary health development agency of that state and explain your intentions.
“They would tell you then if PHC is required if there are staff and all that. If it’s a general hospital, it’s a state thing. So, the ownership must be factored in. But most times, people build PHCs and the community, and State is not even aware of it. At the commissioning, a huge party is held, and it ends there, with no staff, facility etc.”
Also weighing in on the matter, the Senator representing Enugu North Senatorial District, Chukwuka Utazi, noted that the Senate is trying to reduce the number of abandoned projects as it concerns the health sector.
He revealed his office made a list of abandoned constituency projects, including PHCs in the country and made it available to all lawmakers.
Lawmakers, he noted, were encouraged to pick up these projects and complete them for their wards. He thus promised that this would be continuous practice in the house.
Also speaking, during the event, a legislative expert Chibuzor Okereke stressed the need for the budget office to take into account constituency projects carried out around the country.
The expert who noted that the needs of one community weren’t different from the other except in terms of priority insisted that the country was in dire need of a policy-based constituency project process that would create programs and projects.
“It may interest you to know that the budget office of Nigeria has never accounted for constituency projects. They have no column in their budget performance report for constituency projects, and the national assembly itself has no column oversight for constituency projects so it’s like an orphan, and yet we need it in our communities.
“Today it is project-based but we need a policy-based constituency project process that would create programs and projects.”