Call these numbers to track your money, projects
.. It’s your projects, own them
The Independent Corruption Practices and Other Related Offence Commission (ICPC) in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency, NOA, has launched a national awareness campaign on Community Monitoring and Ownership of Constituency Projects.
The campaign: “My Constituency, My Project” was launched recently at the NOA headquarters Abuja.
Many Nigerians are already commending this new initiative aimed at ensuring maximum participation of citizens in tracking constituency projects while holding their representatives responsible and demanding for accountability.
Nigerians should call 08031230280-2, 07056990190-2 for complaints, reports and execution of constituency projects and stop seeing their representatives at all levels, local,state or federal, including chairmen, governors, senators, President; as doing them a favour, rather, they should strictly track the money released for such constituency projects, monitor the execution of such projects from beginning to the end, making sure quality works are done, due diligence followed and always safeguarding such projects.
The budget for various projects can be tracked via; www.pptracker.com and OpenTreasury.gov.ng among others.
According to NOA’s Director-General, Dr Garba Abari, the initiative is a move to ensure that every fund allocated for the implementation of constituency project equal what is delivered by contractors and other parties.
And with the enormity of work at hand, there should be improved budgetary and staff strength for NOA and ICPC.
For so long now, many Nigerians have the notion that public office holders are spending their own money for them with the various so called empowerment programs, thereby turning them to tin god but this must change.
Money being spent belong to the people and should be properly monitored.
So far, a total of 424 projects were said to have been inspected by ICPC officials in selected states.
The ICPC’s Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, also condemned the culture of branding constituency projects as personal favour to the citizens, noting that the new campaign is designed to educate and encourage the citizens to take ownership of government projects as theirs.
He said the partnership between the ICPC, NOA and other stakeholders is key to achieve the objectives of this campaign.
He urged the NOA to be proactive in the new partnership towards carrying out their duties as a government orientation agency to ensure that the campaign yield the desired results.
In his response, Dr Abari stated that citizens’ participation in constituency projects and active involvement of the communities in planning and execution of constituency projects would remove the issues of corruption and abuse.
During his presentation of their findings during field work, Hafiz Mohammed of ICPC shared many mind-boggling experiences.
“Citizens do not even know that government funds these projects through tax returns and it has always been termed ’empowerment or donations’ by politicians.”
Also condemning the wastage of resources and gross abuse and corruption that characterise implementation of constituency projects, the Country Director, ACTIONAID, Mrs. Ene Obi called on Nigerians to always demand accountability from their representatives at all levels of government, local, state and federal. “When they know that people are now aware of the true situation of things thus taking charge of what truly belong to them, there would be positive changes.”
“There should be more professional groups to monitor and query political dealings at the local governments, states and federal level as corruption in constituency projects and other areas is not just criminal but wicked.
Other stakeholders at the launching like the Ministry of Finance, the National Budget Office and others, promised to make details of constituency projects accessible to the public online.
And this should not be at the federal level alone. Constituency Projects Tracking by ICPC, NOA, ACTIONAID, Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors, NIQS, International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, PremiumTimes Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Budgit, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Budget Office of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement, Office of the Auditor- General of the Federation and others, should be replicated in states and local governments.
Federal government has spent huge sums of money on constituency projects for so many years now and we should be seeing results so that people in the rural areas can benefit from government intervention.
There are many cases of poorly executed projects, uncompleted or even abandoned ones. A case in mind is an abandoned hospital in Edo State with dialysis machines, life-saving hospital equipment and other empowerment items abandoned in private property.
There are cases of claiming the same repeated purchase for different budget cycle. And as Prof. Owasanoye suggested, there should be more critical thinking in terms of project selection because some projects are not relevant to people’s needs.
Because of political differences, many good projects are abandoned and this should not be because the projects belong to the people irrespective of political differences.
We have few cases with good quality works done. And experience have shown that youths, women groups,, traditional and religious leaders have a great role to play in achieving accountability.
Or how do we explain situations where youths of the communities are the ones attacking officials who are on ground for verification?
Communities must take ownership of these projects and guard them jealously whether their representatives who attracted such projects are still there or not.
Residents of every community must put measures in place to safeguard their community projects and set up machinery to guard against vandals.
They do not even need to wait for ICPC officials to supervise the projects, they need to own the projects, ensure that quality works are done as well as guard them jealously while putting contractors on their toes.
More importantly, citizens of this country need to as a matter of urgency, support ICPC and other agencies in questioning certain budgetary allocations to many ministries and agencies. Example of this is the N5.6bn budget request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice for zonal constituency projects, saying both ministries has no business with constituency project execution.
Owasanoye said while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inserted N2.9bn in its 2019 budget for the execution of zonal constituency projects, the Ministry of Justice submitted a budget request of N2.7bn.
He stressed that the requests of both ministries exposed the abnormality synonymous with the idea of constituency projects in the country.
A breakdown of the 2019 allocation for zonal interventional projects made available to newsmen shows that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would spend N2.9bn on constituency projects while N2.7bn alloted to the Ministry of Justice in the same budget brings to fore, some of the anomalies surrounding the implementation of constituency projects across the country.
Prof. Owasanoye was also concerned that constituency projects, which principally were projects and empowerment programmes designed to bring development to rural communities within the country, had been included in the budgets of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other non-relevant ministries and agencies.
“The ICPC chairman asked, ‘What is constituency project doing in Foreign Affairs? We will ask questions with this kind of allocation.’” And the entire citizens should also continue to condemn this anomaly at every fora.
He further revealed that only about 60 per cent of constituency projects have been completed with a lot of them executed in shoddy ways due to poor technical designs, impositions and other sundry irregularities.”
He called for the handover of zonal intervention projects to local government authorities upon completion for effective maintenance and sustainability of the projects, while also reiterating that the commission would continue to track all projects funded by the Federal Government.
Owasanoye said, “If somebody had nominated a project and succeeded in getting the project to the community, it is not the duty of the person to maintain it. Communities need to understand that it was public fund that was used. They need to take ownership. We recommend that the project needs to be handed over to the local government for the community to take over.”
As the popular saying, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us and in order to stop the carnage. Constituency projects are done with public funds, people need to take ownership. It’s your money, it’s your projects.
With the monitoring done so far by ICPC, 334 contractors have been compelled to go back to work bringing water, school and health projects to people.
It’s our projects, let’s own them.