Sequel to growing controversies over funds for constituency projects, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP-Abia North) has said that money appropriated for constituency projects does not go to parliamentarians as widely assumed.
Ohuabunwa, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that lawmakers only choose the site of the projects, while the relevant ministries handle the contracts and execution.
He explained that lawmakers in the 4th and 5th assembly demanded for constituency projects in order to address infrastructural deficits in their constituencies.
Ohuabunwa said that the job of legislators was to make laws for peace and good governance but they lacked power to execute projects.
He said that there was serious decay in infrastructure in the constituencies; hence the constituents were not interested in how many bills and motions the lawmakers sponsored.
The senator said that the constituents did not understand it when a lawmaker talked about motions and bills he sponsored as their roads were impassable and they had no light and other amenities.
“What have you done to positively impact their lives in terms of infrastructure; alleviation of poverty, skill acquisition among others; so we came up with the idea of constituency project?
“That was what led to the agitation for constituency projects; it was not easy; but eventually the president saw the need and we started it on three sectors then-power, health and water—rural electrification, primary healthcare and provision of boreholes.
“When appropriations for constituency projects are made, lawmakers will be given options among the three sectors; you choose and allocate-that is the community or local government where you want the project sited; after that, your job ends.
“As regards the award, payment and the execution, it goes to the relevant ministry, if it is power; it goes to the ministry of power; if it is water, ministry of water, health, ministry of health.
“There is a misrepresentation that parliamentarians receive money for constituency projects; no, government does not operate that way and it is not possible.
“What you can do is to determine the budget and the location,’’ he said.
He said he was not present at the National Assembly during the consideration of the 2016 budget as he was pursuing his re-run election.
The lawmaker said that his absence affected projects he would have attracted to his constituency.
Ohuabunwa, who represented Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in the 4th and 5th assemblies from 1999 to 2003, however said that he remained optimistic of attracting projects in 2017 budget. (NAN).