At the dawn of the fourth republic in Nigeria, there was the quest by legislators to provide evidence of “dividends of democracy” to their constituencies. The quest resulted in the implementation of constituency projects or allowance in one form or the other in Nigeria. The operation or implementation of constituency project/allowance has caused controversy, ill-information and misinformation between the legislators, their constituents and Nigerians generally.
The ignorance and total misinformation bandied around on the workings of the constituency project and allowance is alarming hence the moral need to put the facts bare for public consumption lest another unsuspecting constituents is hoodwinked into believing that his/her legislator is “eating” their constituency allowance.
Constituency allowance is the total sum of money allocated for constituency projects in one legislative year. In this write-up, we shall use the both terms interchangeably.
What is known in Nigeria as the constituency allowance is the amount accrued to each constituency of a legislator in every year’s budget. This money is budgeted for provision of some amenities in the legislator’s constituency.
Constituency allowance is NOT CASH paid to a federal lawmaker. It is an amount earmarked for projects in the constituency payable only to the contractor(s) handling the constituency project(s). This means that no senator or House of Reps member get to collect the said sum.
It is therefore, sheer ignorance on the side of the proponent of “legislators receive constituency allowance quarterly” to continue to propagate their ignoble stance on the subject matter.
Sen. Shehu Sani, the senator that represented Kaduna Central Senatorial Districts in the 8th Assembly, during one of his interviews in 2018 said thatl “Implementing the zonal intervention projects does not involve cash payments or any other form of payment to a legislator. The duties of the legislator is simply to identify the location and the type of project to be sited. Once this is done, it is included in the budget of the relevant MDA by the National Assembly. Even though the projects are advertised in line with the Public Procurement Act, only contractors nominated by the lawmakers are often awarded the contracts. At times some lawmakers nominate companies in which they have interests.
“Projects to be initiated by lawmaker is determined by the amount allocated to him by the leadership of the chamber for which he belongs.
“The constituency project itself is given on a zonal basis and almost every senator will go with a constituency fund of about N200 million, but it is not the cash that is given to you.
“You will be told that you have N200 million with an agency of government for which you will now submit projects equivalent to that amount. And it is that agency of government that will go and do those projects for you.”
The above statement of the former senator has succinctly discussed the workings of the constituency allowance or project.
It is natural to hold an uninformed position on an issue but liberality demands that you give up your old position for the new informed position. I hope the proponent of the old ideas will henceforth hold their representatives accountable properly with facts and not on red herring.
– Sufyan Adam, a citizen of Kogi East senatorial district, writes from Anyigba, Kogi State.