The Senate on Thursday, December 9, passed into second reading a law that would make provision for minimum 20 per cent share in the annual budget for the parliament.
Read Why Nigerian Senate Wants 20% Of National Budget
The bill, titled: “Constituency Projects Bill, 2016,” was sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah.
In her debate, the former Minister said the passage of the bill into law will lay to rest the controversy that normally characterizes constituency projects in Nigeria.
According to Oduah, the Bill seeks to grant legal backing to the provision of Constituency Projects in the annual budget of the Federation by a minimum of 20 per cent.
In her words: “One of the unique features of our democratic journey so far is the concept of Constituency Projects.
“Available statistics show that 70 per cent of Nigerians live in the rural areas and the intention of the bill is to ensure that good governance is delivered to these crucial areas.
“The bill is also intended to correct the top-bottom approach of governance and replace it with the bottom-top approach.
“Constituency project in recent time is one of the ways to attract federal presence to our people.
“If not for these projects, majority of federal constituencies would not have a single federal project due to lopsided nature of project allocation in the budget.
“The constituency project is not peculiar to Nigeria alone. There are similar mechanisms in other developing countries. For instance, the constituency development fund has been institutionalized in Kenya, Uganda, India and Tanzania.
“Instead of vilifying the National Assembly on the constituency project, people should advocate for an institutional framework for the implementation of the constituency projects as it is the case in Kenya.
“This Bill therefore is an attempt at providing both institutional and legislative frame work for the operation of constituency projects in Nigeria thereby making it part of our National Budget.
“While it is true that Local Government council has the responsibility of the development of local communities, the Federal Government has the overall responsibility of providing federal presence in these areas through developmental projects and there is no way this can be achieved without the input of the parliamentarians who are the representatives of the people at the federal level.”
After exhaustive debate on the bill, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, put the question and it was overwhelmingly supported by Senators.
The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Finance and Appropriation for further legislative exercise.
The report of the committee is expected to be submitted in four weeks.