– We’re Not Executors Of Projects – Lawmakers
– Lawmakers Not Transparent on ZIPs – Activist
By Ismaeel Uthman
Constituents of various National Assembly members in the State of Osun have begun to ask questions on the Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP) nominated by the lawmakers for execution in the 2020 federal budget.
The constituents started asking questions when information filtered into the state that the Federal Government had in July released 50 per cent of the funds of the ZIPs to Ministries, Departments and Agencies for execution.
ZIPs are aimed at ensuring equity in the allocation of projects sited in the constituencies of state and federal lawmakers by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government in the budgets of the federation or state.
While some members of the Nigerian Senate and Federal House of Representatives in the state have embarked of series of empowerment programmes for the people at their various constituencies, tongues have, however, been wagging over the transparency of the lawmakers on the ZIPs.
Some of the federal lawmakers, according to the constituents, have been presenting the ZIPs as their personal projects, a move described as fraudulent and misleading.
But some of the lawmakers, who spoke with Bioreports on Thursday, said the funds for the execution of the ZIPs were not released to them, explaining that it was few MDAs directly under the supervision of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that have been mobilised.
According to the lawmakers, the MDAs are to relate with the contractors for the execution of the projects, stating that a penny of the ZIPs fund did not and would not touch their hands.
Bioreports noted that Senator Ajibola Basiru, representing Osun Central Senatorial District at the Senate, is the first national lawmaker in the state to organise a 3-day capacity building training for 100 co-operators on Information Communication Technology (ICT), Entrepreneurship management, Cooperative Law, Values and Studies for his constituents.
Basiru, at the opening ceremony of the training in August, declared that he was just a facilitator of the programme, which was executed by the Federal Cooperative College, as part of his ZIPs.
The Senate Spokesperson stated that the second phase of the project involved supply and distribution of empowerment tools for the trained co-operators in his senatorial district.
A Non-Governmental Organisation tracking the execution of the ZIPs, Tracka, also confirmed Basiru’s execution of the projects.
However, Tracka accused Senator Adelere Oriolowo of spending N2.5m out of the N40m allocation for the training programme for youths and women in fishing.
Bioreports had on September 1, 2020 requested for information on the status of Oriolowo’s ZIPs, but the senator did not answer several phone calls put across to him.
Also, a message was sent to his Press Officer, Mr. Niyi Usamot, on the same day and a call to remind him was also made on Thursday, but he did not respond to the medium’s enquiry.
When contacted, the Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, said he was not aware of the release of funds, saying that the only information available to him was that tender would soon be made for some of his nominated ZIPs.
Fadahunsi, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Sam Segun Progress, said some of his ZIPs include: ‘Repair of Roads in Osun East Senatorial District, Construction and Renovation of Secondary and Primary Schools, Provision of Healthcare Facilities, Training and Empowerment of Youths and Women in Candle and Soap Making and Procurement and Installation of 500KVA in his Senatorial District’.
Also, the lawmaker representing Osogbo Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Bukola Oyewo, said: “It is the MDAs that can attest to the amount paid to them so far. I will however be informed at the implementation stage. My proposed projects are on Training and Empowerment, which will be accorded publicity accordingly. The implementing MDA will furnish me with that at the appropriate time”.
Responding to an enquiry from Bioreports, Hon Lekan Afolabi, who is representing Ifelodun/Boripe/Odo-Otin Federal Constituency also at the House of Representatives, said only a contractor handling the supply of motorcycles has come to notify him that the contract had been awarded.
The Legislative Assistant to the lawmaker, Mr. Wasiu Adebiyi, who spoke with the medium said: “Even, according to the contractor, the contract given to him was based on 30% release. The remaining others have not come to us to notify us of any award of contract or the time to start to implement the contract. These are the fact I know about the projects.”
In his response, the lawmaker representing Ede-North/Ede-South/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency at the Green Chambers of the National Assembly, Hon Bamidele Salam said two of his ZIPs have been executed by the concerned MDAs.
Salam, who spoke with Bioreports in a telephone interview on Thursday, said: “My ZIPs are electrification – solar power street lights across the four local governments of my constituency, school project and training programme in tying and dyeing.
“The only one that has not taken off is the school project. As at last week, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) said it was still at the stage of tendering. As soon as it has been awarded, they will send me the name and contact of the contractor for supervision. The other two have been concluded.”
Some other lawmakers contacted by the medium did not respond to the enquiries on their various ZIPs.
Reacting on the issue, the convener, Dialogue 365, Comrade Waheed Saka, said the federal lawmakers have not been showing transparency on their various ZIPs.
According to Saka, the constituent deserves to know from his or her representative the type of projects and mode of execution from their various lawmakers.