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Constituency projects: ICPC reports decline in corruption, raises implementation issues

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has said that it has reduced the incidence of corruption in the execution of constituency projects through its projects tracking exercise across the country.

The anti-graft agency disclosed that the development followed the tracking of constituency project which began in 2019. From that time, according to ICPC, the incidence of individuals diverting constituency projects to their private properties or the contracts being abandoned after receiving payment has declined.

During a radio town hall meeting on constituency project tracking in Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal constituency, organised by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG) at the weekend in Lokoja, Kogi State, ICPC’s Principal Superintendent Operations, Nathaniel Diton Sipki said that compared to the level of corruption and mismanagement of constituency project funds uncovered in 2019 when tracking of constituency projects started, the narrative is now different.

According to Sikpi, ICPC set up a steering committee to track constituency projects in 2019 following a massive complaint by Nigerians that projects are only executed on paper.

“In the first two phases of constituency project tracking by ICPC, there were a lot of issues of project abandonment and diversion of projects, but right now those issues have reduced.

“From the third phase of the tracking exercise, we now discovered that the idea of collecting money and running away has reduced; and in the fourth phase of project tracking, almost all the projects randomly selected and visited were completed,” he said.

Sikpi, however, disclosed that quality service delivery in implementing constituency projects is the current hurdle faced by constituency projects across Nigeria, adding that monitoring empowerment projects has also proven to be a difficult task for the ICPC’s tracking team.

“In relative terms, the work ICPC has done has changed the narrative. The problem now is implementation. ICPC is still receiving reports of poorly implemented projects.

“Another challenge we face is empowerment projects because they are challenging to track. This is because empowerment items are usually distributed months before the tracking team visits”.

He stated that the Commission, in a bid to address the poor implementation of constituency projects, evaluate such projects and, if not satisfied, recommends recovery of the monies spent from the contractor immediately.

On his part, Member representing Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal constituency, Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf called on his constituents to take full ownership and sustain every project brought to their communities in the guise of a constituency project.

Yusuf, who commended ICPC and PRIMORG for tracking projects and educating the general public, stated that the initiative has brought about a marked increase in project execution in Federal constituencies across the country.

Yusuf was represented by his Special Assistant on Media, Richard Otitoleke, who said that his principal prioritises needs assessment before nominating any project in his constituency, and he is in constant touch with the people he represents.

Otitoleke called on Nigerians to disabuse their minds on the notion that lawmakers fund constituency projects moving forward.

“It is instructive for Nigerians to know that lawmakers only initiate or facilitate a project, and its execution is routed through government agencies.

“Funds meant for constituency projects are not domiciled in the bank account of any legislator. It is the government agency whose mandate covers the area that receives the budget of that particular project.

“There is no legislator that receives the fund”, he said.

Woman leader of Lokogoma community in Lokoja, Favour Bala said she would take the exposure and experience she garnered from the town hall meeting to further educate her community on the need for them to take ownership and protect constituency projects brought to their community.

The PRIMORG’s Radio Town Hall Meeting on Constituency Projects seeks to encourage citizens to take ownership of Zonal Intervention Projects and promote accountability and sustainability in their execution and usage.

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