The Federal Government has started compiling the list of legislators in both chambers of the National Assembly over constituency projects earmarked for them in the 2014 and 2015 budgets, which were not executed.
The sum of N100bn was earmarked for constituency projects in each of the 2014 and 2015 budgets.
The worth of constituency projects totalled N200bn for the two years.
Though he declined to give details “in order not to pre-empt investigation,” the AGF said the funds, the names of legislators and the constituency projects that were not executed would be made public after investigation.
He said his office and the law enforcement agencies had received complaints of how payments were made for constituency projects that were never executed.
He said, “The money for constituency projects had been taken, but certain allegations prevailed that some constituency projects were not executed after the money had been paid 100 per cent.
“If money is appropriated in the budget, paid and the projects the funds were meant for were not executed, it is only natural to take steps to find out what happened. If neither the money nor the project can be produced, then you must take steps in accordance with the law.
“There are cases that are specific; we are compiling them. I will not want to pre-empt investigation, we have to allow investigation to be concluded before we go public.”
When asked which of EFCC or ICPC was involved in probing the constituency project fraud, the minister responded, “including the police”.
One of our correspondents learnt that the AGF had received petitions against many of the federal legislators, including a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.
Jibrin had also petitioned the EFCC, ICPC, the police and the Department of State Services, alleging that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers had requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides other projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.
The police are currently investigating Jibrin’s allegations.
MDAs responsible for constituency projects –Lawmakers
However, some lawmakers stated that ministries, departments and agencies under the executive were responsible for the execution of constituency projects.
They explained that lawmakers only identified projects, put them in the national budget, while the MDAs execute them after the president had approved the budget.
The representative of the Oyo South senatorial district at the Senate, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, said any probe into the constituency projects should start from the executive.
He said, “There is a certain amount set aside for constituency projects. Each lawmaker is allocated a certain amount of money and they will identify the projects of their choice. But the execution by contractors has nothing to do with lawmakers. The main role we play is to name the project and make sure that the project is executed.”
When he was asked if it was possible for a lawmaker to influence the selection of the contractor and the execution of the project, Akanbi said, “That means the ministry or the agency handling the project has been compromised.’’
Akanbi, however, said lawmakers could be culpable in the manipulation because they had to certify that the job had been done before the contractor could be paid.
Senator George Sekibo, who is recontesting his election in the Rivers-East senatorial district, also said the projects included in any budget passed by the National Assembly were executed by the MDAs.
The legistlator, who has been in the Senate since 2007, stated that lawmakers were not involved in the execution of constituency projects.
He said, ‘‘Nobody gives a kobo to any senator for constituency project. All a senator does is to recommend a project for his constituency.”
The House also said the role of lawmakers in constituency projects was limited to the selection of the projects, while relevant MDAs carried out the implementation.
It also said no member was handed cash or paid money for the implementation of the projects.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said, “Members do not execute constituency projects, and they don’t receive money for the projects.
“For example, a health centre will naturally be done by the Ministry of Health or any agency so designated by the executive to handle the project. It is not the member who implements the project or appoints the contractors.”
CSOs back FG probe
Civil rights groups supported the probe.
A United States-based activist, Simon Ajaja, said constituency projects had brought fraud.
He said, “The idea is an organised fraud driven by the mostly ignoble men and women who have serially foisted themselves on Nigeria and Nigerians as their lawmakers, but with no intentions of making laws that would engineer national development beyond advancing a cause for themselves via phoney loopholes in the system.”
Also, the Executive Secretary of The Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, urged the Federal Government to carry out a thorough probe.
“The constituency projects have become an avenue for the members of the National Assembly to recoup the outrageous money spent to run elections and to feed their corruption nest rather than serving the purpose they are defined to serve,” he added.
The President of Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said, “This will create more synergy between the executive and the legislature, and even the judiciary. When it comes to budget harmonisation and implementation, issues like padding will no longer occur.”
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, advised the government to limit access to money by public officials.
He said, “The government should start institutional reforms that will ensure that people don’t have access to that kind of money again.’’
Efforts to get the reaction of the Senate’s spokesperson, Senator Sani Abdullahi, proved abortive as his mobile phone rang out. He had yet to reply to a text message sent to him.
92.6 Million Nigerians Enrolled For the National Identification Number – NIMC
The Federal Government through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has stated that NIN will be a compulsory requirement for business registration.
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has announced that 92.63 million Nigerians have enrolled for the National Identification Number as of November 2022.
This represents an increase of 1.9 million when compared to the 90.68 million recorded in October.
According to the recent data released by NIMC, more men have been captured than women. The data also revealed that men accounted for about 52.1 million people or 56 percent of the total people captured so far in the NIN database.
On the other hand, women represent 40.5 million or 44 percent of the total enrollment, Investors King learnt.
On a state-to-state basis, Lagos State recorded the highest enrollment with about 10.3 million. This was followed by Kano State with more than 8 million people.
Other states with substantial enrollments include Kaduna with 5.4 million, Ogun with 3.8 million, Oyo with 3.6 million, FCT with 3.2 million, Katsina with 3.1 million, Rivers with 2.7 million, Delta with 2.4 million, and Bauchi with 2.4 million.
Meanwhile, Bayelsa is presently the state with the lowest enrollments. A total of 583,323 have so far enrolled in the state. Ebonyi trailed Bayelsa with 744,869 and Ekiti’s record shows 971,712 enrollments. While Cross River, Taraba, Yobe, Enugu, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Zamfara followed with 1 million, 1.3 million, 1.3 million, 1.5 million, Imo 1.5 million, 1.5 million and 1.6 million, respectively.
In another development, the Federal Government through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has stated that NIN is now a compulsory requirement for business registration like it is with banks.
According to the Registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Garba Abubakar, NIN was adopted because its security can’t be compromised, unlike the National Identity card, passport, and driver’s license, which could easily be cloned.
“If you don’t have a NIN, it means you can’t register your company. The essence is to verify the integrity of the data we are collecting,” Garba noted.
National Identification Number is the unique number created by the Nigerian government to identify Nigerians, curb crimes, deepen infrastructure in cities and generally access all citizens.
Governors Forum Replies FG, Blames Poverty on Rising Insecurity
The NGF accused the federal government of being unable to tame rising insecurity which has led to the high costs of food.
The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has stated that governors could not be blamed for poverty in their respective states. The NGF accused the federal government of being unable to tame rising insecurity which has led to the high costs of food.
Investors King could recall that President Muhammadu Buhari earlier alleged that governors are pocketing funds meant for the development of the local governments.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, also stated that the 36 governors were responsible for the rising poverty index in the country,
According to the Governors Forum, the rising level of poverty among Nigerians was a consequence of the biting effect of insecurity on commercial and agricultural activities.
A statement released by NGF’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, AbdulRazaque Bello-Barkindo said “It is important to put on record the progress made by state governors in the administration of their states, which have witnessed tremendous progress in recent times. Governors have undertaken projects where they, in conjunction with their people, deem them fit for purpose.
“This dereliction of duty from the centre is the main reason why people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activity and commerce. Today, rural areas are insecure, markets are unsafe, travel surety is improbable and life for the common people generally is harsh and brutish.”
Barkindo further accused the minister of deviating from the major issues and passing blames when he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, should be implementing policies that can ameliorate the hardship Nigerians were facing.
Barkindo in the statement added that the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, an area he claimed the Federal Government has failed.
“But the Federal Government, which is responsible for the security of lives and property, has been unable to fulfil this covenant with the people, thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands,” he said.
President Buhari Accuses Governors of Stealing LG Funds
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has once again accused state governors of stealing monthly allocation due to local government under them.
The president spoke at a parley with members of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the president stated that it beats anyone’s imagination how some governors collected money on behalf of council areas in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the council chairmen, who would further deplete the remittance by filching it. Investors King learnt.
‘‘I found it necessary to digress after reading my speech and this digression is a result of my personal experience. What they did, this is my personal experience, if the money from the Federation Account to the state is about N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman, but he will sign that he received N100m. The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with,” the president narrated.
‘‘This is what’s happening. This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing; you cannot say the person who was doing this is not educated. He was a qualified lawyer, he was experienced, yet he participated in this type of corruption.” he queried.
Furthermore, the president clarified that state governors and local government chairmen should be held responsible for the underdevelopment in the rural areas noting that most of the local governments lack basic amenities.
Similarly, the National Union of Local Government Employees on Thursday backed the position of the president on the embezzlement and mismanagement of local government funds.
Responding to Buhari’s position, the President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Hakeem Ambali, said Buhari was merely stating the obvious.
The NULGE President nevertheless admonished the president to go beyond the statement and ensure governors, especially those in APC to sign the local government autonomy bill into law.
“He should go beyond that statement. He is the leader of the party, he should ask them to sign the autonomy into law; he is the leader of the governors,’’ he said.
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