By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Committee on Constituency Outreach Monday disclosed that only 30% of the budgetary allocation to constituency projects was released in the 2019 financial year.
The Chairman, House Committee on Constituency Outreach, Bello Kaoje, who disclosed this while briefing journalists on the outcome of its recent retreat in Owerri, called on the executive arm to ensure adequate release of constituency projects funds for effective execution and implementation.
Kaoje said that at the end of the retreat, the Committee resolved to utilize its powers and mandate to ensure proper education and improve citizens understanding of constituency projects and effective ways of engaging lawmakers on constituency project implementation, as this will build public trust and promote democratic accountability.
According to him, the Committee also resolved: “to ensure proper implementation and release of funds for members’ constituency projects in line with the demands of their constituents. The committee also commits to provide an updated database of constituency projects as allocated in the Appropriation Act annually for ease of monitoring and assessment of constituency projects.
“To deploy its oversight powers to ensure that members set up functional constituency offices as statutorily required. This will enable effective communication between constituents and their representatives and deepen legislative accountability. The Committee is committed to promoting regular engagement between constituents and their representatives to promote inclusive governance.
“To encourage lawmakers to monitor and ensure the successful implementation of their constituency projects and for case of identification appropriated constituency projects should be labelled as ‘facilitated by’ in place of ‘donated by’.
“Submit reports on the state of constituency Projects to the House”, and “to partner with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and development
partners in the monitoring and tracking of Constltuency Projects and Offices”.
The Chairman added that the retreat among others highlighted the mandate of the Committee to include: “ensuring the maintenance of constituency offices by members; liaising with appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) responsible for the coordination of constituency development projects; monitoring and supervising constituency projects and reporting to the House; and annual budget estimates.
“Discussions focused on oversight, constituency projects for inclusive governance, constituency engagement and democratic accountability in Nigeria”.