A Lecturer of Journalism at Lagos State University, Dr Tunde Akanni has faulted the impact and relevance of the Zonal Intervention Project (ZIP) popularly called constituency project since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
Akanni faulted the foundation of constituency projects in Nigeria, and further labelled it as the most fraudulent creation of the political class in Nigeria
The Don who doubles as a Technical Adviser of MacArthur Foundation’s Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), made the statement during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG.
He was reacting to an investigation by Premium Times exposing how a federal government agency in collaboration with a former lawmaker, Segun Williams diverted boreholes to ex-Nigerian Head of state’s residence, Ernest Shonekan, and his own farm.
According to him, Nigeria cannot boast of any positive development from constituency projects, stressing that legislators should focus on making laws rather than getting involved in constituency projects.
“Members of the National Assembly since 1999 have been more concerned with the enrichment of their personal pocket far more than improving or development process for the rest of us who have gone through the troubles to elect them into power.
“What is the business of the legislature with construction of gutters, toilets and so on, what are we doing with councilors? What are we doing with local government? So, somebody must come from Abuja to fix toilets at the grassroots level?
“National Assembly members have been trying to appropriate funds to themselves by coming up with this idea of constituency project, it is the most fraudulent creation of strategy they have come up with,” Akanni maintained.
He urged civil society organizations in the country to keep on documenting all corruption in constituency projects in readiness to confront the legislature, adding: “we have to put a stop to this idea of constituency projects because it is a terrible window for wastage.”
Similarly, Program Executive at Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Ijeoma Okereke, lauded PRIMORG for creating such a platform to expose corruption.
Okereke also agreed to the popular perception that Nigeria cannot boast of commensurate infrastructural development considering the billions it invested in constituency projects over the years.
Her words: “We are not getting value. Out of ten projects we tracked, we only found one that was well done and in use and that is not valuable.
“Schools they constructed are in dilapidated conditions, there are no boreholes or even when they are implementing a project, you will discover that it stops working three months after. Is that value for money, she asked?
She identified lack of needs assessment as the major challenge facing constituency project execution in Nigeria.
“Citizens not having a say in the projects presented by their representatives is a big problem, they don’t get to have one-on-one conversation with their representatives which is the reason they were nominated in the first place. So, these projects do not meet the needs of the people; you are putting boreholes in a community, why not go and ask them what they really want,” Okereke said.