Lawmaker representing Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency, Plateau State, Engr Solomon Bulus Maren has indicted government agencies of ballooning the cost of some constituency projects in Nigeria.
The legislator made this known during a special radio town hall meeting against corruption, organized by Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, with the support of MacArthur Foundation on Friday in Abuja.
Maren who was highlighting some of the challenges militating against execution of constituency projects in Nigeria explained that lawmakers were supposed not to nominate contractors to execute constituency projects but nominate projects.
According to him, agencies of government are giving legislators specifications for projects at a very high cost and called for profit reduction to discourage wastage of scarce resources and corruption.
“Those projects are overpriced; we want them reduced because that will also reduce corruption. When you have 35 to 40 percent gain, it is too much.”
On changing the narrative, Maren lamented that the hands of lawmakers are tied, adding that the National Assembly hitherto fought over the inflation project prices but now rely on the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to address the issues.
He called on the government to create blueprints to ensure completion of constituency projects while noting that funds allocated for constituency projects are not completely released over the years.
In a similar vein, Community Engagement Officer at Connected Development, Mukthar Modibbo revealed that better funding constitutes a major challenge in constituency project execution.
He said: “From 2014 till date, no constituency project funding has exceeded 50%, it has always been between 45 to 50 percent.
According to Modibbo, monitoring of constituency projects is ineffectual on the side of the lawmakers, stressing that executing community projects require the involvement of the beneficiaries.
On his part, a Public Affairs analyst, Jide Ojo identified political interest, instability of power as a major factor why several projects were abandoned.
Ojo said despite the rigorous process in nominating a project, legislators will readily abandon the same project if they lose re-election. Adding that non-existence of budget for maintenance of a successful completed project is another problem that is yet to be addressed.
On the way forward, Coordinator of Outgrow Hunger Nigeria Campaign, Tom Odewingie and Assistant Programme Executive at Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Chiamaka Okafor, both called on lawmakers to make needs assessment a top priority before embarking on constituency projects.
Earlier in the Program, Okafor revealed that abandoned or poorly executed constituency projects are littered all over the nation, stressing that government agencies made their investigations into constituency project execution tough.
Mr. Odewingie called for community involvement in the nomination and execution of projects in order to secure their ownership.
The PRIMORG’s Town Hall Meeting Against Corruption series is aimed at calling the public and government attention to specific issues of corruption in Nigeria.