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Constituency Projects: NGOs, anti-graft agencies highlight ways to ensure transparency, accountability in budgeting, execution

According to him, the bulk of the issue on accountability comes from the sponsors of the projects. He said, “many times the sponsors of these projects actually connive with the contractors handling these ZIP projects so as not to get them fully executed.

Other participants speak

Zainab Ghali of the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA) applauded the stakeholders’ partnership for accountability on the ZIPs.

She said from inception, the government has been budgeting a lot of money for constituency projects without reasonable outcomes

According to her, partnering with other stakeholders would bring a lot of benefits such as the “enlightenment of what the ZIP project is all about to the general public and how these projects are to be executed.”

A representative of the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) Chris Umogbai urged the sponsors of the project who are the legislators to focus more on their duty by ensuring full execution of the projects.

He said, “the legislator pays his role by financing the project into the national budget and once that budget is passed into law. He/she has no business in who execute that project. And issuing a letter saying they have executed and they have not executed. That is not the role of the legislator.

“Their responsibility is that of making laws of the people, they to find out whether that project was executed and that is where it ends for the benefit of the people.”

Cross section of attendees at the Strategic Partnership for Accountability in Nigeria event

Joshua Olufemi, the founder and publisher of Dataphyte, said 65 per cent of the 2021 ZIP projects analysed by his organisation can be categorised as soft projects which include cash grants, training and the rest which he described as “unsustainable”.

He said only 35 per cent of the ZIPs have to do with construction and works projects.

Mr Olufemi said the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) should be the one that should certify if a ZIP project has been fully executed before issuing the final money and should not be done by the legislator.”

“The whole idea of a legislator signing a letter that a contractor has finished work on a project and should be paid his/her balance is an anomaly.

“The only agency by law that should monitor the competition of projects is the BPP, ” he said.