Over alleged N60bn constituency projects scam
By Iheanacho Nwosu and Chuks Akunna, Abuja
The House of Representatives, yesterday challenged the Presidency to make public, documents indicting the National Assembly over the alleged N60 billion Constituency Projects’ execution. It said that the claim by some presidential aides that they had in their possession, documents cataloguing the alleged sleaze by the National Assembly members in the execution of constituency projects contracts was diversionary.
House Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Hon Zakari Mohammed, in a statement said the executive was running away from the question being asked by the National Assembly as to why the 2012 budget was yet to be implemented to a reasonable percentage.
Mohammed said: “ Once again, feelers from the executive arm of government is indicative of a resolve not to fully implement the 2012 Appropriation Act, as assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the latest ploy to cover this obvious illegality, a spineless Presidency official – who did not have the guts to state his identity – caused to be carried in the Sunday, October 21, 2012 edition of several national publications, the fallacy that “many of the constituency projects in the 2012 budget were said to have been stalled on account of alleged irregularities essentially centred on the failure of the project to scale through due process mechanism of government”.
He stressed: “While it is true that National Assembly members are allowed to nominate projects centred on the felt-needs of their individual federal constituencies and senatorial districts, it is also an acknowledged fact that the execution of these projects are the exclusive preserve of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) under whose purview they appear.
“For the umpteenth time, it bears restating that the seventh House of Representatives cannot – and will not be blackmailed from abandoning the worthy route it has undertaken: the desire to get all organs of government, be it the legislature, executive or judiciary to always act on the side of the rule of law.”
Faulting the reasons the executive has so far advanced on the non-implementation of constituency projects, the Reps spokesman asked: “Indeed, how come only these so-called constituency projects are labelled by the executive as “ not implementable” or “not well thought out” or even the ludicrous assertion that they “cannot pass through due process when the issue at stake is not the execution of a nuclear plant.
“Pray, what is the difficulty in procuring hand-held boreholes, purchase of transformers, or school blocks; or indeed the due process requirement that would make same unimplementable? “It bears restating that out of a capital budget profile of N1.3 trillion in the 2012 Appropriation Act, Constituency Projects only account for about 12 percent (N60 Billion for the six geo-political zones), and cannot be “job for the boys” as everything that has to do with projects execution, from tenders, pre-qualification, technical bid, award, payment and supervision, are handled by the executive arm of government.”
He declared further: “despite the clear wordings of section 81(1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, to wit: “ the President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly at anytime, in each financial year Estimates (emphasis, ours) of the revenue and expenditure of the federation for the next financial year”, the House of Representatives welcomes the veiled threat by the Presidency to seek judicial interpretation of that constitutional provision, in the earnest hope that it will help enlighten those who deliberately misread the intention of the framers of our nation’s constitution for mischievous purposes.
“On the issue of the House and the investigation into the AMCON deals, sadly has been misinterpreted to mean a witch-hunt of certain individuals. For the avoidance of doubt, the National Assembly has oversight right over the activities of government agencies – AMCON inclusive – where public funds are committed. So, no amount of blackmail or intimidation can scare us from unearthing the rots in the public sector.”