The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said the nation had spent about N2 trillion on constituency projects without commensurate development at the grassroots.
Daily Trust reports that the ICPC recently started the first phase of tracking of constituency projects in 12 states of the federation in order to ensure quality projects delivery to constituents by their elected representatives.
The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kogi, Sokoto and Kano. Others are Imo, Enugu, Lagos, Osun, Akwa Ibom and Edo, with at least five projects awarded between 2016 and 2018 in each of the states.
The commission’s spokesperson, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, in a statement in Abuja yesterday quoted the chairman as saying it at the induction of newly-qualified members of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors in Abuja.
Owasanoye, while making emphasis on the ongoing tracking of constituency projects by the commission in 12 states, said that the exercise was not to witch-hunt anyone.
He said that tracking the projects was an important assignment for ICPC as the nation had spent about N2 trillion on the funding since 2000 without commensurate impact at the grassroots.
Owasanoye, however, said that ICPC would not hesitate to prosecute any contractor that has failed to deliver on the projects, including accomplices.
The chairman said that ICPC commenced the Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG) initiative to ensure proper implementation of funded projects at the various constituencies across the nation.
He further said that the initiative was already yielding positive results as some contractors had gone back to site to complete unfinished projects.
He, however, noted that the commission was collaborating with the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) in the on-going exercise.
Daily Trust reports that an assessment visit to Bauchi State by the ICPC recently uncovered how political feud between former Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara stalled the use of completed health centres in Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro, which formed the constituency of the former Number 4 citizen.
At one of the health centres, located at Marti Bakin Kogi and Yaban Kufai community in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, the people said the centre, which was completed since 2016, has remained under lock and key with grass taking over the compound. They blamed the closure on the political disagreement between the former governor and the former speaker.
Also recently, the ICPC announced that it had recovered some equipment worth millions of Nigeria meant for a cottage hospital in Essien Udim Local Government of Akwa Ibom State, under the constituency project.
Some of the recovered equipment included two 15 KVA generators, a dialysis machine and infant incubators.
The Akwa Ibom State ICPC Commissioner, Mr Shola Shodipo, who led journalists to evacuate the equipment from a private home and deliver them to the hospital, said the commission discovered that the items were meant to be delivered to the hospital in March last year.
“In the course of our assignment, we discovered that three dialysis machines and other items for the Ukana Cottage Hospital were not delivered. We found only one in a private place, which was not delivered or installed in the hospital.
“The items were found in that building that we went to. These machines and other equipment were meant to be delivered since 2018. We have taken the items to the appropriate location. They are supposed to help the community in health care delivery,” Shodipo told journalists.
Daily Trust reports that controversy has continued to dog the constituency projects, with allegations that members of the National Assembly have turned themselves to ‘contractors’ rather than focusing on their business of lawmaking. It is also alleged that in the past that lawmakers were allowed to nominate companies, which they had interest on, to execute various projects in their constituencies.
But the lawmakers see the idea as a legitimate attempt to “evenly spread projects in line with federal character.”
Apart from civil society groups, one of the most virulent critics of constituency project is former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was once quoted as saying: “You and I know what constituency projects mean. It is simply corruption.”