Constituents want to decide priority projects over budget padding
Padding and the attendant corrupt practices have been a contentious issue since the alarm and allegations raised by the former chairman of the Appropriation Committee in the House of Representatives over the 2016 Budget.
The issue has generated controversy in the lower chambers of the National Assembly and has given rise to the call by some for a constitutional amendment to make the legislature part time.
However some have argued that constituency project which has been the excuse for the padding should be prohibited to check the abuses presently prevalent.
To ensure that the Funds allotted for Constituency Projects are judiciously expended, the people of Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal constituency in Abia state want the constituents to decide which projects they want.
The Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal constituency resolved along with their representative in the House of Representatives, Chief Uko Nkole that they (Constituents) will partake in determining the projects according to their priority needs such that the 22 Wards would benefit from the fund equitably.
The decision was taken at the Maiden Town Hall meeting Nkole held with the community leaders, representatives of development unions, Youth and Women leaders of the Ohafia local government area (LGA).
The Federal lawmaker informed them that out of the total N60 billion approved for constituency projects for the Federal Constituencies in the country in the 2016 Budget, Arochukwu/Ohafia got N150 million.
The constituents however were irked that the reconstruction of Ohafia-Arochukwu and Ohafia- Bende- Umuahia federal roads were not accommodated in the 2016 budget. It was observed that while palliative repairs of the Ohafia-Bende-Umuahia road was accommodated in the budget, that of Ohafia-Arochukwu was not.
The people noted that the Ohafia-Arochukwu road did not require a fresh contract because former President Goodluck Jonathan awarded a contract for it but the project execution was stalled due to poor funding.
It was also claimed that the defunct PTF had reportedly awarded the contract for the same Ohafia-Arochukwu road repairs but was not executed.
According to Nkole, the two roads require total rehabilitation and not palliative repairs. He frowned at those calling for scrapping of for Constituency Projects Funds pointing out that without such funds, the N150 million would not have been allotted the Constituency in 2016.
He also took a swipe at those alleging padding in the National Assembly stressing that was nothing like budget Padding because the Legislature has constitutional power to add to or subtract from the budget estimates presented to it by the executive arm of government for necessary constitutional action.
At the Town Hall meeting, there were calls for attention to be given to different areas of the Constituency ranging from water, roads, school building, health centers, youth and women empowerment including skills acquisition centres, etc.
On his part, Nkole assured them that he would continue to ensure that the constituency gets its share of what was due the people recalling that he had personally intervened in the resuscitation of moribund community water, school building, health centers among others including youth and women empowerment.
He disclosed that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had through the efforts of late Ambassador Ojo Maduekwe accepted to rehabilitate the Asaga Ohafia Water Project which cost was put at N2 million.
To students whose parents or sponsors might be incapacitated to pay their school fees, he told them to approach his Constituency Office to submit the relevant information including the required fees and bank details of their school.
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