By Chuks Ehirim
As the nation grapples with the leadership crisis in the Upper legislative Chamber, concerning the on going trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal[CCT] over an alleged false declaration of assets, a bigger crisis is most likely going to rock the House of Representatives over an alleged N4.7Billion scam in the execution of the constituency projects of the honorable members, in the 2015 budget.
247ureports.com gathered reliably, that many of the Honorable members are warming up for total show down with the House Leadership whom they suspect to have perpetuated the scam. Some of them who spoke to this reporter only on the strict condition that they will not be quoted, pointed out that the House Leadership had undermined the rules guiding the execution of the constituency projects which comes in the form of Millennium Development Goal [now Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs].
According to one of them, the sum of N30Million was allocated to each of the 360 Federal Constituencies, for this purpose, in the 2015 Federal Budget. When the 7th Assembly commenced sitting, the money was reduced to N13Million per constituency, by the current House Leadership headed by Hon. Yakubu Dogara, on the excuse that the project did not have cash backing.
The source revealed further, that the House Leaders also decided to alter the original pattern of executing the MDG project which used to be through award of contracts for such things as Bore holes, Class room blocks etc, in the constituencies of the members. The contractors who execute the projects are normally nominated by the Honorable members in each of the constituencies. The law makers also choose what project that is suitable for his constituents and take it to the ministry responsible for its execution.
But the current House Leadership is said to have altered all that. Instead of executing projects, they resorted to purchasing some products such as tri-cycles, motor cycles, electric generators etc, which were recently sent states of the Honorable members. The source said that the law makers were told by the House Leadership, that the new method of abandoning project executions for supplies of finished goods, was informed by the fact that the “2015 Budget will soon expire”. The Honorable members were asked to forward letters containing names of their contact persons back at their constituencies as well as the items they want to be supplied to their constituencies. While some of them were said to have complied with this directive, some refused to do so.
Trouble was said to have started brewing when the law makers discovered that the House Leadership embarked on a unilateral decision of taking the contract for purchase of the said items and sending same to the constituencies.
Another Hon. Member who hails from the South-East, alleged that the was made worse when it was discovered that instead of the N13Million that was agreed per constituency, the leadership spent only between N6millin and N7million for each constituency. He said that items so purchased were not taken to the constituencies of the law makers but simply dumped at the state capitals. “My constituency contact person called last night to say that somebody called to tell him that the items meant for my constituency, are at the state capital and that l should make arrangement to go there and pick them”, said he.
Most of the Honorable members are said to be angry because of the general perception of the Nigerians that the National Assembly is a cesspool of corruption. One of them told 247ureports.com that when the House resumes sitting on Tuesday, the aggrieved law makers will take up the matter, if not for any other thing, to absolve themselves from this blanket condemnation by Nigerians.
“You know too well that there is this general perception of an average Nigerian that everybody in the National Assembly is corrupt but l am telling you that this is not true. Many of us here still value our reputation very highly. We will not sit back and watch a few individuals destroy the reputation that took us many years of hard work to build. We shall rise up to expose those behind this latest fraud so that the public will know that not everybody here is involved in shady deals”, he said.
247ureports.com gathered also that those who handled the project include the -Director of Projects [who is a Deputy Director in the MDGs office ], Arc. Orumbo, who is said to be working with one Kelechi, the House Committee Chairman on SDGs, Hon. Tijani Jobe, as well as the Secretary of Programmes[SOP], Mr O. Ogenyi. They are said to have worked in league with the House leadership. Efforts made by this reporter to get any of the three to speak on this matter, proved abortive as the SMS sent to their phone lines were never answered, for over four days.
Also, all the phone calls to their phone lines were either not picked or said to be busy.