Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
In a move akin to taking the battle to the executive arm of government, the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, set up a 16-man Ad-hoc Committee to probe Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over unspent constituency projects funds in the last ten years.
The Ad-hoc Committee is expected to identify MDAs that failed to remit unspent constituency projects funds to the treasury in the last ten years and report back to the House within eight weeks for further legislative actions.
This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, Chinedu Ogah and four others on the “need for refund of unspent budget funds.”
The members of the National Assembly had come under severe criticism after President Muhammadu Buhari said the lawmakers has spent one trillion naira on constituency projects, also known as Zonal Intervention Projects(ZIP) , in the past ten years, without commensurate result.
However, the House in response to the President Buhari comment had said the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission ( ICPC), based on whose report Buhari , carpeted the lawmakers, misled the President on the actual expenditure on constituency projects fund.
The chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata , who lead debate on the motion on behalf of Gbajabiamila , said in the last ten years , there is no instance where the budget was funded 100 per cent.
The lawmaker argued that because there have not been 100 percent implementation of capital budgets, there is no way the government can claim to have funded constituency projects 100 percent.
He said it is imperative for the House to probe non-remittance of unspent ZIP funds by MDAs, noting that ‘I I was shocked when I heard that one trillion has been spent in constituency projects.”
Fulata, who stated releases for capital projects in the past ten years has hovered between 40 to 70 per cent, added that most of the times the funds released for constituency projects are not fully utilized by the MDAs.