It has been in the public domain for years that you (senators) are given between N400 million and N500 million monthly as constituent allowance. What is the truth of the matter?
The truth of the matter is that every year when the budget from the president is being presented, we in the National Assembly make a provision also for constituency projects. We are the closest to the people, alright, and people hold us accountable for what they call ‘federal presence’ in the state, at least, in our various constituencies. And in order for our constituents to feel the impact of the Federal Government directly, we have some thresholds of budgetary allocations allocated zone-by-zone. The allocations to each zone is divided by the number of states in each zone and in each zone the states now have pots of constituency allowance at the threshold. The representatives, that is the senators in each state, for instance, would now further divide the allowance into three senatorial districts. The same thing happens in the lower house, and so what then goes for each senatorial district is also shared between the senators, on one hand, and House of Representatives members, on the other hand, and at the end of the day it usually comes to about N160 million, N180 million. I, as the senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District, would then look at the projects that I want to execute from that bulk money and I will write my proposal, as it were, and forward it to the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee. They, the Chairmen of the Appropriation of both the senate and House of Representatives, will then meet and harmonize all these projects and assign them to the various ministries, departments and agencies and implement the projects. Not a kobo is handed out to any legislator for projects in the constituency, not a dime is given. So, the breakdown of my N160 million or N180 million is then sent to the various ministries for implementation. They then, advertise the projects in the gazette through the due process office and ensure that the contracts for the execution of the projects are duly awarded. That is the procedure and, like I said, not a dime is handed out to any legislator for constituency projects.
Given the level of deprivation at the grassroots, there must have been an occasion where you may have spent your own money to execute public projects. Has that ever happened?
That is a regular occurrence. For an instance, there was an area I visited in my constituency where they have problems of water, in Ilara, in Imeko-Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State. I had to personally spend N3 million to provide water project for them in that place. It wasn’t part of my constituency projects, it was a personal donation from me and I can go on and on and give examples of so many other projects that I have personally executed.
Given these examples of these projects you have executed, what is your advice to the executive at the federal, state and local government levels?
Well, I wish the executive at both the Federal, state and local government levels could rise up to the challenges of providing for the masses that have elected them to govern. For instance, if you look at the projects we have approved and the level of performance, the capital projects really are under-performing, percentage of execution for the 2013 Appropriation hovers between 40 and 45 percent. With that kind of scenario you can see that all the grandiose plans that are contained in the Appropriation are just grandiose, and are far from being fully executed. And of course, you know that the recurrent expenditure budget, the recurrent part of the budget, which is usually 70 percent of the budget, is usually fully implemented, but the remaining 30 percent, which is capital – you will find out that it is under-performing. So, with that kind of scenario the rate of our development can only be at a snail’s speed. And my appeal also, is just that, the executive arm of government should wake up to its responsibilities and rise up to the challenges o