A week after President Muhammadu Buhari taunted Nigeria’s legislators for wasting over a trillion Naira in two decades without anything to show for it under the guise of implementing Constituency Projects, the details of how the N100 billion earmarked for the scheme in this year’s budget has been made public.
The ICPC revealed yesterday in Abuja that the Ministry of Agriculture and agencies under the Presidency take the lion share of Zonal Intervention Projects popularly known as Constituency Projects in the 2019 budget.
The breakdown of the allocations given by the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, at the launch of a scheme to take constituency projects to the grassroots and make them to key into the scheme, indicated that the Northern part of the country got N51.9 b while the South was allocated N44.2 billion.
The document, which was circulated to participants at the event, tagged “Roundtable for Media Executives on Community ownership of Constituency Projects” showed that in terms of regional breakdown the North West got the highest allocation with N17.97 billion followed by the North Central with N17.90 and North East with N16.06 billion.
The project is to be jointed executed by the National Orientation Agency, NOA, ActionAid and the ICPC in order to make constituency projects more relevant to the citizens of Nigeria and add value to their lives as against the current practice where the money meant for the scheme is mismanaged.
On the other hand, the South-South got N15.14 billion followed by South East which was allocated N14.85 while the South West was given N14.28 billion out of the N100 billion vote for constituency projects.
On a state basis, Kano got the highest number of projects worth N5.2 billion followed by Niger State with N4.4 billion and Edo State with N4 billion.
Enugu State came forth with projects worth N3.7 billion while Anambra and Bauchi states following with projects valued at N3.7 billion and N3.5 billion respectively.
Chairman of ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, explained that with the involvement of communities, the management and implementation of constituency projects would not be the same again, as the people are the ones to choose projects most relevant to their needs and to take ownership of such after the provision by the government.
“If we don’t do something urgent to change the way constituency projects are handled in this country, there would still be challenges while huge government funds continue to be used with little or nothing to show,” the chairman warned.
“Our goal is not to stop constituency projects but to make them more effective and sustainable with value for public funds put into the scheme by the government,” Owasanoye said.
The Director-General of the NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said his agency was pleased to work with the ICPC and ActionAid to drive the new initiative aimed at making constituency projects to deliver more benefits to Nigerians and make the impact of the government felt at the grassroots.
COVID-19: We Must Provide Relief Before Lockdown -Lawan
As the Federal Government considered total lockdown to combat the spread of the pandemic, Coronavirus, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, has called on the Federal Government to immediately put in place measures to guarantee relief for poor Nigerians whose daily livelihood would be affected as a result of the restriction on movement.
Lawan made the appeal at the end of a meeting between the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly and some Ministers and Heads of Government Agencies in Abuja.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, yesterday, at a media briefing said the Federal Government would soon announce restriction of interstate movement of vehicles except those on essential services.
The President of the Senate suggested that the restriction of movement would be counterproductive unless the government has a dedicated fund for the purpose of purchasing food and pharmaceutical supplies to mitigate the challenge of the dearth of access to money for the ordinary Nigerians.
“Our prayer is that we are able to overcome this menace of COVID-19 in good time because it is really taking a toll on our lives.
“If we have to eventually shut down our country, then as a government we must be prepared to have some relief for the most ordinary people.
“As a government, we must find our own money to fund something for our people.
“I’m not seeing anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief. If we lock up Nigeria today, then we will wake-up trouble, because the majority of our citizens go to markets every day before they can get something to eat.
“So, you lock them up in their houses with a threat of disease and without food. We need to have something, a plan of some sorts, in addition to making sure we don’t lock up the farmers market for example, where people can easily go and buy something and of course pharmacies.
“We need to have some kind of supplies to people, I don’t know how we can achieve this, but we have to be ingenious.
“This is a time to think deep and wide, to provide for our people, in order for us at least to deal with this challenge at the moment.”
The President of the Senate pleaded with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to establish more testing and isolation centres as soon as more funds were released to it by the Federal Government.”
He added that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning would oversight the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control on the strict application of the N6.5billion to be released for the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I believe that our Committees on Health, in the Senate and in the House, must be alert to this, when funds are released, so that they (NCDC) don’t just go on jamboree spending the money elsewhere, where we may not achieve this kind of spread that is extremely necessary.”
2019 Polls: S’Court To Rule On Zamfara APC’s Request, Today
The Supreme Court has scheduled ruling for today in an application by the Abdulaziz Yari faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a review of its May 24, 2019 judgment in the intra-party dispute in the Zamfara APC.
The Supreme Court had, in the judgment, held among others, that the APC did not hold valid primaries preparatory to the 2019 general election, voided its (the party’s) victory in the elections and made a consequential order, directing the party with the second highest scores in the election to claim the victory.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State benefited from the effect of the consequential order, with its candidate taking over all the elective positions in both the Executive and Legislative arms of government in the state.
While arguing the application on March 17, 2020, lawyer to the Yari faction of the Zamfara APC, Robert Clarke (SAN), prayed the court to review the consequential order on the grounds that it was wrongly made.
Clarke argued that the order the Supreme Court ought to make was that directing the APC and INEC to conduct fresh primaries and elections in Zamfara State, instead of voiding the party’s victory.
He argued that, by the consequential order, the Supreme Court made it possible for the PDP, which was not a party in the Zamfara APC’s intra-party dispute, to benefit from the outcome of the dispute.
Clarke argued that when the Supreme Court sat on the date it gave the judgment, the case was purely a pre-election matter, not an appeal from the lower court, flowing from the tribunal.
“There was no tribunal in place to hear post-election matters, because election had not been held. The Supreme Court was sitting, at that time, as a court of first instance.
“We are saying that the consequential order was made out of jurisdiction. The consequential order that would have been made was to order INEC to conduct fresh primaries and elections.
“Section 235 of the Constitution, says only the tribunal that can decide electoral dispute, in this case, there was no appeal on election dispute.
“The consequential order allowed non-parties to benefit from the outcome of the intra-party dispute between members of the APC.
“The other party that benefited from the consequential order (the PDP) was never a party to the Zamfara APC’s intra-party pre-election dispute. The court should grant the application in the interest of justice,” Clarke said.
In a counter-argument, lawyer to the Senator Kabir Marafa faction of the APC in Zamfara, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the application with punitive cost.
Ozekhome argued that, not only is the application without merit, it constitutes an abuse of the process of the court.
He added that with the recent two decisions of the Supreme Court, in the governorship disputes in Bayelsa and Imo states, the applicant ought to have quietly withdrawn the application.
Ozakhome said; “On June 17, 2019 the same applicant made similar application that was struck out by this court on July 22, 2019, the two main reasons given by the court included that ‘because the applicant did not comply with Order 8 Rule 16 of the Court of Appeal Rules.”
He added that the court rejected the current appellants’ application because the matter complained about was a pre-election matter which had been overtaken by Section 285(12) of the Constitution, which prescribed 60 days from the day of filing of notice of appeal.
Ozekhome noted that “Nothing has changed since the last ruling of the court for them to come back with the same application.”
He urged the court to dismiss the application with punitive cost, and noted that the application constitutes a gross abuse of the process of the court of the land.
Ozekhome added: “This pre-election matter died on the 4th of June, 2019, because the notice of appeal was filed on March 4, 2019, and the court said so in its judgment of May 24, 2019.”
Lawyer to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tanimu Inuwa (SAN) said his client did not file any brief and has nothing to urge the court.
COVID-19: Jonathan Tasks Nigerians On Faith, Patriotism
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, urged Nigerians not to give in to fear occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic but to demonstrate faith and courage in the ability of government to win the war against the scourge.
Jonathan in a post on his Facebook page asked Nigerians not to forget how the nation successfully battled the Ebola virus a few years ago, and implored Nigerians to support the government’s initiatives aimed at checking the spread of the pandemic.
He said: “Today, our world faces a global crisis that threatens our peace, hope, and freedoms.
“Across the globe is the climate of fear, havoc, and consequences of a new enemy, Coronavirus disease.
“Dear compatriot, this is not a time to fear or despair; it is a moment of responsibility, courage, and faith. It is time to demonstrate good citizenship by yielding to relevant policies and guidelines put in place by government and its agencies to combat the challenge of COVID- 19.
“As a country, ours is a history of many triumphs in times of global and national challenges.
“In 2014, through solidarity and unity of purpose, we combated the dreaded Ebola virus.
“More than ever before now is the time for action, solidarity, and patriotism.
“Let’s all brace up and work together to combat this new scourge”, the former president added.
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