The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Tuesday said constituency projects were never gifts or donations to communities from legislators, but projects built by government with public funds.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said this at a town hall meeting in Akure, organised for various stakeholders, tagged: “My Constituency, My Project”.
Owasanoye, represented by the Commissioner in charge of Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States, Mr Baba Shuaib, said people’s representatives (legislators) just selected the projects based on closeness to the people.
Owasanoye urged Nigerians to always get involved in projects being sited in their communities and always request an audience from their representatives.
“We wish to state with emphasis that constituency and other projects are funded by the government with public money.
“This means that the projects are not gifts or donations to your community by political representatives.
“They belong to you as fruits of national resources and government responsibility to the people.
“Your representatives in the legislature, who select constituency projects do so because they are close to you, and it is expected that they understand your needs better.
“You should, therefore, work with them to make sure that projects chosen for you actually reflect your needs across to them.
“You can follow up on your projects approved for your community by asking for information on them,” he said.
Owasanoye said by monitoring projects in the communities, it would also help legislators who might not know how contractors were performing on the field and invariably helping to deliver durable projects to the community.
The Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari, said projects were inserted or sponsored by members of the National Assembly during the budget cycle to drive the need to get development closer to the grassroots.
Abari, represented by the Ondo State Director of NOA, Mr Bode Famose, said constituency projects appeared to have come to stay in the country, despite the hot debate around it.
“The public perception of these constituency projects is that it is a largesse disbursed by government to legislators as part of the perquisites of office.
“In fact, in the past, many of these projects were never done or left uncompleted.
“In some other areas, irrelevant projects were sited in communities requiring no such facilities.”
Abari said it was important that a new template for implementing constituency projects be adopted
“The new template we advocate under the new partnership between NOA and ICPC is for the people to own the entire process beginning from conception to execution.
“It is through this that the aims of bringing the government to the grassroots will be achieved,” he said.
“Our partnership is to change the perception so that citizens will begin to see the projects as theirs and therefore, continue to make the needed contribution that will help to popularize democratic model of government in the country,” he said.
A working committee was later constituted to monitor and report on constituency projects in the state, and they were drawn from all walks of life.