A member of the Board of Trustees (BoT), of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief David Onuoha-Bourdex, has called for the removal of constituency projects from subsequent budgets.
He observed that provisions of constituency projects for law makers had remained the major way previous administrations enthroned a culture of legislative corruption, stressing that the controversial insertions or padding of the 2016 budget could be traced to the quest for constituency projects by the federal lawmakers.
Onuoha-Bourdex, who was also the APGA senatorial candidate for Abia North Senatorial seat in the last election, noted that removing the special provisions would help the legislators to focus on the business of law making and oversight.
He disclosed that though the provision for constituency projects was meant to assist in redressing the deficit in infrastructure and social amenities in various communities, “record has shown that the laudable innovation had been hijacked by lawmakers to corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of their constituents.
“You find that there is no checks and balances around the provision of constituency projects because the lawmakers end up nominating their friends, relations or even themselves as contractors to handle such projects,” he pointed out.
The APGA chieftain further contended that apart from the fact of shoddiness in the delivery of constituency projects, some lawmakers actually pocket the money meant for the execution of the projects, insisting that lawmakers should face their constitutional role of lawmaking and holding the executive to account for equitable distribution of amenities.
Onuoha-Bourdex regretted the removal of the Calabar-Lagos coastal rail line from the 2016 budget, saying that any legislator that involved him/herself in the excision is not a true representative of the people, stressing that the benefits of that rail line to the socio-economic development of Southeast, South/South and Southwest cannot be over-emphasised.
While commending the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government for deeming it fit to include the Calabar- Lagos rail line in the 2016 appropriation, he expressed the hope that the project would not suffer a similar fate as the East-West road that have remained uncompleted even under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
His words: “Even if it is through supplementary appropriation, that project should be recaptured this fiscal year. I think it amounts to legislative folly for lawmakers from Southeast and South/South to oversee the removal of that project from the budget. My earnest prayer is that the rail line does not suffer like its East-West road counterpart.”
Onuoha-Bourdex regretted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government of Jonathan did not do anything to tackle federal roads in Southeast, pointing out that the Arochukwu-Ohafia road deserves urgent attention and new approach to fix it.
His words: “I think Arochukwu-Ohafia demands innovation, the road has gone beyond the usual reinforced concrete; experts in marine engineering should be contracted to do that major road because of the effect of erosion. With gabion baskets and special stones, the road could be made durable,”.
He noted that lawmakers from the area have failed to be innovative in thinking out the best way to approach the construction of Arochukwu-Ohafia, adding that most of the time contractors become powerless to do a good job after gratifying lawmakers during oversight.
“All these,” he added, “could be traced to the culture of electoral corruption and impunity introduced by the PDP in the past 16 years through money politics, negotiated electiopgans and impunity.”