… declares 2021 tracking exercise successful
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) says infractions and other unwholesome acts by lawmakers and government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) remain a significant challenge in the execution of constituency projects in Nigeria.
ICPC’s Assistant Commissioner of Constituency and Executive Project Tracking, Jimoh Sulaiman, disclosed in a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Speaking on the outcome of the third phase of the Commission’s Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking exercise conducted across 16 states in Nigeria in 2021, He stated that despite the modalities put in place to prevent corruption, the execution of constituency projects is still challenged by abuse of office, infractions, duplication of projects, lack of needs assessment and other pockets of unholy acts by lawmakers in connivance with government agencies.
“The infractions we encountered are the perennial abuse of office; You see a sponsor (lawmaker) who embedded a project in an MDA, contractor executing the same project can be linked to him, his wife, children, cronies or associates.
“One other infraction that we encountered is the round-tripping of project items. A sponsor puts a project in an MDA this year, funded. The contractor supplies the project, but instead of distributing it to beneficiaries, it will be kept somewhere. The following year, the same project will be embedded in the budget of another MDA, and it will be funded again.”
Sulaiman lamented that ICPC could do little regarding duplication of constituency projects, saying that the onus lies with the budget office to stop the breach.
He noted that reaping the full benefit of constituency projects will continue to elude Nigerians because, in some cases, proper needs assessments are not done before embarking on projects. He added that interference by politicians was also seen to be hindering the utilization of completed projects by citizens in some communities.
On achievements recorded as a result of tracking constituency projects in 2021, Sulaiman said ICPC recovered N653 million Naira on projects that were shoddily done or not done at all; “we compelled contractors to go back to the site and complete projects they abandoned for months. Two weeks ago, we still asked some contractors to go back to site over a project worth N1.3 billion.”
Similarly, ICPC’s Spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, lauded the impact of the third phase of Constituency Projects Tracking, having successfully tracked 1,093 projects and compelled hundreds of contractors to return to the site.
Ogugua also revealed that ICPC had successfully tracked constituency projects in 34 states of the nation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), noting that the Commission could not do the same in Zamfara and Borno states due to insecurity.
She said people living in communities are now showing more interest in projects nominated by lawmakers and that the Commission expanded its scope to track more projects in 2021.
Her words: “As a result of the tracking, we had more awareness, increased participation, increased willingness from people to help, and in our tracking exercise, we saw an increased number of completed projects, unlike other years.
“Before now, we had tracked projects with a benchmark of N100 million, and this had the unintended consequence of making us track only projects from the Senate and not the House of Representatives. This time we reduced the threshold and came down to N10 million, meaning it included projects nominated by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and we worked in 16 states and the FCT.”
While disclosing that tracking of empowerment projects continues to be difficult for ICPC as they are mostly intangible, Ogugua reminded the citizens that Zonal Intervention Projects, otherwise called The lawmakers, do not fund constituency Projects but the Federal Government, urging Nigerians to get involved in governance and consistently seek to know constituency projects voted to their communities.
ICPC also revealed plans to concentrate on Executive Projects Tracking in the first quarter of 2022 and selected about 600 projects to track in 18 states of the Federation.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.