As the details of the 2016 Budget continues to unfold, it has emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari has slashed the N100 billion Constituency funds meant for the 469 Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies to N60 billion.
Investigations by the Nigerian Tribune indicate that the President ordered the reduction, a situation which has placed the constituencies of the Principal Officers in the Senate and House of Representatives in jeopardy.
The National Assembly has since 2008 struck an agreement with the Federal Government whereby some projects are set aside for execution in the 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 House of Representatives seats through different Ministries and parastatals.
The projects are designated as constituency projects, though, some Nigerians went away with the impression that the funds are allocated to the lawmakers.
The amount meant for execution of the projects have remained constant at N100 billion in the past years, with each geopolitical zone getting N10 billion, while the balance of N40 billion is spread among the Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies of the Principal and Presiding officers in the two chambers.
Investigations however confirmed that while the President government has agreed to continue to fund the Constituency projects, it has however indicated that the amount would be slashed to N60 billion.
It was gathered that the Senators and members of the House of Representatives have been requested to submit details of the project to be executed in their constituencies to the Committees on Appropriation in the two chambers.
Sources affirmed that the cut would affect the N40 billion meant for execution of projects in the constituencies of Principal Officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as according to a source, all the constituencies are only to now benefit from the N60 billion allocations.
“The six geopolitical zones are normally allowed to benefit from the N10 billion per zone allocation, where the remainder of N40billion is spread to the Constituencies of the Principal Officers and presiding officers. But we are made to understand that as a fall out of the leadership tussle that engulfed the National Assembly last June, whereby leaders not supported by the hierarchy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the usual largesse due to NASS leaders is being withdrawn.
“It is like saying you can keep your positions but you can’t keep the largesse,” a source said.
“What has been happening is that each fiscal year, the six geopolitical zones are allocated the sum of N60 billion as development projects.. each of the projects are chosen by the Senators and Rep members. The projects are however located in different Ministries and parastatals, which are given funds to execute the projects. But the joy of the lawmaker is that he would claim credit for being the facilitator of the projects.
“Now that the sum of N40 billion is being removed from the constituencies of the Senate President, the Speaker, their Deputies and the other Principal officers, a huge distortion might occur in the manner the allocations are made,” another lawmaker in the know said.