(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Sometime in 2019, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) announced plans to commence “Another Round of Constituency Projects Tracking or Monitoring”. The second phase of the exercise, which is informed by the success of the first phase, which was carried out in 12 states, would focus on tracking infrastructural and agricultural projects, besides empowerment and capacity building, education and healthcare projects that were covered by the first phase.
The 12 states covered by the first phase under the Constituency Project Tracking Group (CPTG) are Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kogi, Sokoto and Kano. Others are Imo, Enugu, Lagos, Osun, Akwa Ibom and Edo states, with a minimum of five projects awarded between 2016 and 2018 in each of these selected states spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, bringing the total to 86 projects that were tracked in the first phase.
The achievement of the first phase include, the return of over 200 contractors to sites to complete water, health-care and other initially abandoned projects, recovery of six tractors, ambulances, dialysis machines and other hospital equipment from the sponsors of the projects across the 12 pilot states, etc. Both phases of CPTG’s monitoring program are being executed by the ICPC in collaboration with Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Budget Office of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Bureau of Public Procurement. The CPTG steering Committee also include the reputable online newspaper, Premium Times, two civil society organisations, BudgIT and Community for Peace and Corrupt-free Society.
Agenda Watchdog joins Nigerians, development partners and international allies in commending the ICPC on the impressive success of the first phase of this initiative, hoping that the second phase would be likewise successful. The constituency tracking program will ensure that funds released for constituency projects are judiciously managed by the people’s representatives, unlike the ugly practices in the past when such monies ended up in private pockets. If properly implemented and sustained, the initiative has the capacity of checking the rank rot of corruption in the execution of constituency projects, spreading development to the nooks and crannies of the country, and obtaining value for monies released for development purposes.
However, it is advised that the initiative be extended to cover other arms of government at the federal, state and local government levels, including agencies, parastatals, departments, and other significant bodies that receive substantial appropriations from government coffers meant for the execution of different projects in the country. This will help check the widespread culture of financial misappropriation – a misnomer – that has become the normal in these parts. Simply put, the CPTG’s searchlight should be beamed beyond the boundaries of just constituency projects.
Again, the ICPC’s CPTG must endeavor to be objective in the execution of its mandate, eschewing political considerations in the conduct of its business. It must avoid scenarios where its activities are seen as favouring particular individuals or interest groups in the country, especially those with political affiliations or interests. In other words, it should not be another means of “settling scores” or “witch-hunting anybody or politician”. It must be seen to be firm, impartial and above board in the discharge of its core responsibilities.
In all, the CPTG is a brilliant, essential, long overdue initiative that should be encouraged, sustained and expanded in scope. The electorate – popular sovereigns – deserve much more better deals from their representatives – political sovereigns. The proper execution of constituency projects by elected representatives will help complement the efforts of other state institutions that are aimed at providing the citizens of the Nigerian State with the good life on the widest possible scale.
As the saying goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected”. Politicians are hereby enjoined to get up, stand up and start delivering on their pre-election mandates! ICPC is watching!