Uyo citizens of Akwa Ibom State have urged the state lawmakers to commence the process of engaging their constituents on the 2021 constituency projects immediately the budget became law to ensure proposed projects addressed real needs and priorities of the communities.
They also demanded that members of the state Assembly responsible for the nomination of constituency projects across the 26 state constituencies should publicly disclose the type of projects nominated and implemented for 2019 and 2020 fiscal years in their constituencies.
The citizens demands were contained in a communiqué’ issued at “The 2020 Community Forum on Constituency projects in Akwa Ibom State”, held last Thursday in Uyo, and facilitated by Policy Alert with support from Actionaid Nigeria and the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The representatives of the communities drawn from the 26 state constituencies further demanded disclosure of the sites/ locations of the nominated and implemented constituency projects for 2019 and 2020 in their respective constituencies as well as the cost and current status of the projects.
The communiqué’ signed by Representatives of the 26 state constituencies added, “Akwa Ibom House of Assembly members responsible for the nomination of constituency projects across the 26 state constituencies should publicly disclose the Contractors for the project(s) nominated and implemented in each constituency projects for 2019 and 2020 fiscal years.
“Also they should publicly disclose the date of commencement, completion and commissioning of nominated and implemented constituency project(s) for 2019 and 2020 in their respective State constituencies.
“Members responsible for the nomination of constituency projects across 26 state constituencies should in future ensure that details of proposed constituency projects are clearly indicated in the Budget in the spirit of transparency and to enable grassroots actors track, ensure efficient implementation, exercise ownership and protect the said projects.
“As grassroots citizens, we remain committed to improving citizens’ engagement with the legislature and strengthening transparency and accountability in budget Implementation.
“We trust that as ‘the People’s Assembly’, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly will respond to these requests in good faith.”
In his remarks, the Lead analyst of ‘Extractive and Open Data’, Policy Alert, Iniobong Usen, said it is exciting to see that Akwa Ibom citizens are beginning to hold their representatives accountable, by asking questions regarding the development of their communities.
“What they are saying is that they want to see the projects with their own eyes. And Policy Alert is happy about the consciousness among the citizens on budget issues in the state.
“And as an organization that promotes transparency and accountability, we believe this development is going to close the gap between the State legislators and their constituents”, he simply said.
Meanwhile, NDV gathered that the community forum was put in place due to the confusion trailing the report of alleged extra-budgetary expenditure by the State government in the 2019 budget and the government’s explanation over the allegations.
One of the participants who didn’t want his name mentioned told NDV, “recalled that state government officials had penultimate week explained that the investigative report published in a state-based Newspaper and some online platforms was based on the erroneous copy of the 2019 budget.
“But government explanation seemed to confuse things the more. And as grassroots’ citizens, we are particularly concerned about tracking the constituency projects approved in the 2019 budget as contained in the 2019 Annual Report released to the public in November 2020.”