Senator Daniel said active community participation in the planning and execution of constituency projects is key.
Senator Gbenga Daniel (APC, Ogun East) has identified the high turnover rate of legislators as one of the factors responsible for the poor implementation of Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP), also known as constituency projects around the country.
This is even as he stressed the need to educate citizens on the importance of reporting any irregularities related to constituency projects, and for political parties to focus on building strong internal structures to identify and groom potential legislators.
Daniel remarked while delivering his keynote address at a Policy Dialogue on “Parliamentary Succession and Constituency Projects” organised by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative in partnership with BudgIT on Wednesday, in Abuja.
Senator Daniel, who was represented by Dele Ahamisi, also attributed the lack of political will by new lawmakers to continue with projects initiated by their predecessors to the challenges of ZIPs.
“The impact of non-returning lawmakers on constituency projects allocated to them in Nigeria can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the actions taken by relevant stakeholders.
“One of the potential scenarios causing challenges is due to delayed or abandoned projects whereby a lawmaker who had been allocated constituency projects does not get re-elected, there is a possibility that the projects they initiated or promised to undertake may be delayed or even abandoned.
“This can occur due to the loss of political will or lack of interest from the new lawmaker representing the constituency. As a result, the intended beneficiaries might suffer from the absence of the anticipated development projects.
“Continuation by the successor is also a challenge in some cases whereby the newly elected lawmaker representing the constituency might choose to continue the projects initiated by their predecessor. This could happen if the successor recognizes the importance of the ongoing projects or if there is strong public demand for their completion.
“The impact on the constituency projects would then depend on the commitment and effectiveness of the new lawmaker in carrying them forward.”
The lawmaker also cied instances where funds were being reallocated or redirected to a completely different project or constituency by the government or relevant authorities.
“If a non-returning lawmaker had already secured funding for constituency projects, there is a possibility that these funds could be reallocated to other projects or redirected to different constituencies by the government or relevant authorities. This might occur if there is no clear mechanism in place to transfer the allocated funds or if the new lawmaker is unable to effectively advocate for their retention.
“Also, the absence of a returning lawmaker who had been allocated constituency projects can lead to increased public scrutiny and pressure on the government and relevant authorities to ensure that the projects are completed.”
He further urged civil society organisations, community groups, as well as the media to actively monitor developments and push for the prompt completion of projects that have been assigned.
“Effective governance structures, transparency, and accountability mechanisms can help mitigate potential negative consequences and ensure that the allocated funds are utilised for the intended purposes regardless of changes in political representation.”
To address these challenges, the ex-governor of Ogun state urged political parties to focus on building strong internal structures to identify and groom potential candidates for parliamentary positions.
He also noted the need for youth inclusion in politics, enhanced civic education programs to create awareness among citizens on the importance of parliamentary succession and encourage their active participation in the electoral process, community engagement as well as transparent allocation and monitoring of ZIPs.
“Establish a mechanism for transparent allocation and monitoring of constituency projects. This involves clearly defining selection criteria, ensuring equal distribution across constituencies, and implementing robust monitoring and evaluation systems to track project implementation.”
According to him, training and capacity-building programs for parliamentarians and their aides can effectively help them manage and oversee ZIPs, in addition to enhancing the capacity of committees of the legislature.
“We also need to enhance the capacity of parliamentary committees responsible for oversight to investigate and monitor the implementation of constituency projects and Implement robust whistleblower protection mechanisms to encourage individuals to report corruption or mismanagement related to constituency projects without fear of reprisal,” Senator Daniel stated.