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MDG: Perfect initiative, poor implementation

 While the Federal, State and Local Governments failed in their responsibility to eradicate poverty and hunger among the people in their respective areas of jurisdiction,…

 While the Federal, State and Local Governments failed in their responsibility to eradicate poverty and hunger among the people in their respective areas of jurisdiction, the National Assembly who are partners in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals have generally taken the backseat in transforming their constituencies despite the millions of naira allocated to them in the country’s annual budget barely 10 years after the re-introduction of democracy in Nigeria.

Job creation is the most important issue for most Nigerians. Despite the economic growth recorded in the past, the country’s economy is not growing enough to absorb the number of unemployed people. This has worsened with the current global economic meltdown. No thanks to the PDP’s government rationalization of public service and its lacklustre performance especially in the last 10 years.   

The opportunity to engage these categories of Nigerians in productive ventures would have come by the judicious use of constituency project fund allocated directly into the personal account of members of the National Assembly. But alas, this was not to be. Of course this noble idea has unfortunately been hijacked by the few privileged Nigerians who hide under the cover of being elected into office. This is another grand design to oil the wheels of corruption in the system.

Unlike what obtains between 2007 and now, monies earmarked for constituency projects meant for legislators in the State Assemblies and the NASS were not sent directly into their personal accounts for project execution. The legislators instead, identify projects meant for execution in their constituencies for inclusion in annual budgets with a financial ceiling. That was because they do not have any constitutional backing in the current 1999 constitution to award contracts and or execute project. Rather, the powers to execute works and supervise them are left with appropriate executive agencies of government to handle them.

But despite the aforementioned constitutional provision, two allocations were made to each National Assembly Member in 2008 alone, one each from the Millennium Development Goal and N10 billion allocated to each of the six geopolitical zones from the Federation Account. These monies may have gone down the drain after all, as there are no signs of development dotting the country’s landscape to justify these allocations.        

No doubt, another N60 billion constituency fund allocation for the 2009 fiscal year awarded in the first quarter of this year to the federal lawmakers is an issue that boggles the minds of some concerned Nigerians.  The question they seem to be asking is whether our representatives (NASS) are God fearing, sincere and judicious in utilizing the huge amount directly allocated to them for the development of their constituencies?

Generally, while a handful   of them had attempted to move their constituencies to the next level in terms of development, still the majority of the legislators have not contemplated eradicating poverty in their constituencies. They had neither attempted to reduce child mortality nor developed a clear path for community development. To worsen the situation, the menace of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other avoidable diseases is still ravaging most communities. What most legislators do to deceive the electorate is to announce in the media plans to embark on projects, only to disappear from public glare to only God knows where. This is an unfortunate situation. I am confident that most if not all the constituents have learnt a bitter lesson in the hands of their so-called representatives.

 To illustrate my point take the case of Adamawa Central Senatorial Zone, a zone that does not seem to be fortunate in attaining the major goals of the MDGs. A visit to any of the seven local governments encompassing the zone namely: Fufore, Yola North, Yola South, Girei, Hong, Song and Gombi would enable one to appreciate more the level of decay, neglect, desolation and despair on the faces of the electorate. In some of these council areas, several communities still drink water from the same source with cattle in the absence of boreholes. Some also have to trek long distances for Medicare. There are no accessible roads to transport farm produce, no electricity, with poverty making mincemeat of citizens.

The story from Hong/Gombi Federal constituency is a worst case. In spite of the presence of some political gladiators claiming to be wielding some influence at the national level from the axis, Hong LG in particular has remained desolate, underdeveloped and to say the least – impoverished since 2007. Similar cases can be found all over the country. This trend is indeed unfortunate.

Shallangwa writes from P.O. BOX 759 Garkida, Gombi LGA, Adamawa State