News Analysis by Okon Okon, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
In any democratic nation like Nigeria, there are institutional channels for development, and constituency project is one of such channels to reach out to the people and in particular, those in grassroots regions.
It has been observed that the situation is a different case in some constituencies in Nigeria in terms of the execution of projects meant to create an impact of governance among Nigerians.
Stakeholders recently converged in Abuja on a two-day forum to brainstorm on ways for adequate monitoring, verification and evaluation of constituency projects nationwide to enhance national development.
The forum was meant to interact with personalities from Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, Civil Society Organisations, other stakeholders as well as members of the general public.
The meeting had in attendance the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs Sen. George Akume, as Chief Host, the Senate President, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, who was represented by Senator Yusuf Abubakar.
And also, the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya, represented by Major Gen. A. S. Ibikunle, among others.
Speaking at the forum, Sen. Akume, who was the Chief Host of the forum, said the interactive forum was aimed at briefing stakeholders of the critical roles expected from MDAs.
He further explained that the forum was also meant to provide guidelines on effective monitoring, evaluation and verification for payment of zonal intervention/constituency projects nationwide.
According to him, his ministry, being saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of zonal projects among others, will ensure collaboration with National Assembly to realise the objectives of the forum.
“The overall objective of implementing these projects and programmes is to ensure speedy and even development at the grassroots in line with the Federal Government’s agenda.
“Effective implementation of projects and programme will also assist the government in key decision-making process.
“It will also help to determine that their deliverables were consistent with the intention to reduce poverty and significant economic inclusive growth, “ Akume explained.
According to Akume, the task of ensuring the realisation of these objectives is a joint responsibility of his ministry, the National Assembly and all implementing MDAs.
To actualise the vision, Akume, therefore, sought the cooperation of stakeholders to carry out the exercise diligently, bearing in mind that the whole essence was to ensure accountability and transparency in the course of constituency projects execution.
Lawan, on his part, said he was delighted to be part of such engagement, geared towards accountability, transparency, and compliance in implementing the zonal intervention/constituency projects across the country.
The president of the senate was represented by Sen. Yusuf Abubakar, Chairman, Senate Committee on Special Duties.
Lawan said the forum would serve as a platform for stakeholders to interact with experts on critical issues emanating from previous verification, monitoring, and evaluation exercises.
According to him, the forum will also unravel the roles expected from MDAs in actualising the successful implementation of constituency projects in the country.
“We cannot undermine the importance of judicious use of resources where there are limited funds to actualise our many needs, especially as they relate to the constituency.
“While we can achieve much more with prudence and openness in the application of resources, we will realise much less if we do not prevent wastages
“Our aim today is to interact with stakeholders on critical issues emanating from previous verification, monitoring and evaluation exercises, as well as the roles expected from MDAs in actualising the successful implementation of constituency projects.“
According to him, as zonal intervention efforts, the projects are capable of impacting on the areas they are domiciled, aside from taking development closer to the people, the rural dwellers in particular.
“Beyond that, there is the need to understand that our gathering here is more like a strategy session, on procedures for ensuring accountability and transparency.
“While we should be forthcoming with our submissions, we have to be concerned about implementing our suggestions, so that our efforts will not be in vain. “
In his contribution, Mr. AbdulRasheed Bawa, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), assured of the commission`s collaboration with the forum to achieve its aims.
Represented by Mr. Adebayo Adeniyi, Deputy Head of Operations, Bawa said the forum would enhance the needed knowledge to make the implementation of the 2020 constituency projects a seamless one for the benefit of Nigerians.
Mr. Abraham Osezuah, a participant said the forum created an opportunity for Nigerians to know the truth about the true situation of constituency projects which were meant for development of the country in the grassroots regions.
“From his own perspective, the true about constituency project is that, it was meant to rescue Nigerians, especially those at the rural areas from poverty, but many people don’t understand it that way.
“I think this a very good opportunity for Nigerians to know the truth behind it and to realise the true situation of projects across the nation at the end of the deliberation and peoples` contribution in this forum.
According to Osezuah, who is also a contractor, it is the duty of members of National Assembly to budget for the projects and ensure that the executing agencies execute the projects.
“And if there is a project that is not executed and it was budgeted for, it is not the duty of National Assembly members to make sure it is executed.
“It is the duty of the ministry or the agency in whose budget was domiciled, to ensure that is it executed, “ Osezuah explained.
The forum at the end drew lessons from previous experiences on the implementation of zonal intervention and constituency projects and programmes with a view to improving on effective delivery of these projects and programmes.
The stakeholders suggested the provision of a platform to create a feedback mechanism that would enable them to monitor performance in terms of timely and transparent implementation of the constituency projects nationwide.
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