Senators, Reps Fight Over N100bn Constituency Projects

Fred Itua, Abuja

Former Senators and members
of the House of Representatives are at loggerheads with their successors
over constituency projects and contract awards by the National
Assembly, estimated at about N100 billion.

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Daily Sun gathered
that the former lawmakers in the eight Assembly whose tenure expired in
June, are insisting that the ongoing contract awards for constituency
projects must be handled by them since they were captured in the 2019
budget while they were still in the National Assembly.

The 2019
budget was passed on April 30, few weeks after the general elections
that saw the defeat of some of the legislators, including erstwhile
Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

In the current 2019 budget,
about N100 billion was earmarked for constituency projects. The fund is
shared evenly among the 469 senators and members of the House of
Representatives.

According to sources familiar with the funds
management, the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA), which is
responsible for the handling of major constituency projects for senators
and members of the House of Representatives is in a fix on how to
handle the crisis.

Based on existing procurement law, lawmakers
are barred from directly executing contracts. They are, however,
expected to identify projects they want to be funded, and the areas
where they should be sited.

Despite the existing law, lawmakers allegedly bypass the bottlenecks and use pseudo companies to lobby for contracts.

For
instance, in a letter written to an agency (name withheld) by a member
of the House of Representatives from Abia State, the lawmaker had
identified some projects in his constituency that should be funded by
the BCDA.

In the letter dated August 1, the lawmaker asked the
agency to release funds from the N100 billion intervention budget for
the execution of the projects.

The request, Daily Sun gathered,
has not gone down well with his predecessor, who is insisting that the
projects ought to be executed by her.
It was learnt that his
predecessor has also written a similar letter to the agency, requesting
for the execution of projects domiciled in the same Federal
Constituency.

A source who spoke with Daily Sun urged the
president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of he House of
Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to wade into the issue and resolve it
as soon as possible.

“The agency responsible for the execution
of the projects is complaining of conflicting requests from former and
serving members. And the execution of many constituency projects have
been stalled across the country as a result of the festering crisis,”
the source added.

Senate Committee Chairman on Foreign and Local
Debts, Clifford Ordia, in his reaction, said the issue should ordinarily
not cause any friction between old and new lawmakers.

Ordia,
told Daily Sun that due process should be followed, and he explained
that the law is clear on who should recommend projects for execution in
the national assembly.

Spokesman the House of Representatives,
Ben Kalu, said he was unaware of the crisis. He however said due process
and protocol should be followed in contract awards and execution.
Former
member of the House of Representatives, Peter Edeh, wondered why a
former member will insist on executing any constituency projects when
he/she was no longer in office.

“Can a former governor fight with
his successor on who should handle a project? Those insisting that they
want to execute projects have special interests or things they are
hiding,” he said.
Senate Spokesman, Adedayo Adeyeye could not be reached to comment as his active mobile phone number was switched off.

Spokesman
to the President of the Senate, Ola Awoniyi, also declined comment as
he insisted that the issue be referred to the Senate spokesman.

Reacting,
spokesman to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Lanre Lasisi,
said he was unaware of the development too. He, however, promised to
make further inquiries and bring it to the attention of his principal,
Gbajabiamila.

Source:- Sunnewsonline

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