Worried over alleged irregularities in the N60 billion constituency projects in the 2012 budget, the presidency is launching an investigation into the constituency project scheme as conceived by members of the National Assembly, it was learnt at the weekend.
Besides the probe, the administration, it was learnt, is equally pondering a judicial action at the Supreme Court to interpret the provisions of Section 81 of the constitution under which the National Assembly acts in altering the budget proposals usually laid before it by the president.
The N60 billion constituency projects are pet projects chosen by federal legislators but executed by Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs.
Many of the projects in the 2012 budget were said to have been stalled on account of alleged irregularities essentially centered on the failure of the projects to scale through the due process mechanism of government.
The presidency's probe of the projects is against the assertion of federal lawmakers that the administration has poorly executed the capital side of the 2012 budget, an issue that has recently caused barbs between some presidential aides and the top hierarchy of the National Assembly.
Presidency officials are peeved that many of the projects dubbed as constituency projects are essentially "job for the boys", a source revealed.
"The truth of the matter is that many of the projects the lawmakers are worrying about are not implementable. They are not well thought out and many of them cannot pass through due process," the source added.
"The tragedy of the whole issue is that the Due Process office has been bullied to stay off projects initiated by National Assembly members. So you find most of the agencies being stuck with the implementation," the source added.
The constituency projects were introduced in the first term of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration by members of the National Assembly as a way of ensuring that the felt needs of their constituencies were readily addressed.
The Obasanjo administration and succeeding ones have, however, almost always neglected the constituency projects, rather, skewing implementation towards projects conceived by the administration.
However, the legislators have insisted that the constituency projects being integral parts of the appropriation act should be implemented to the letter, an issue that led to the recent face off between the House of Representatives and the Presidency. Remarkably, many of the constituency projects alleged to have failed due process are federal constituency projects conceived by members of the House of Representatives.
In the 2012 budget of the Federal Government, N60 billion of the constituency projects were distributed across the country with each of the six geopolitical zones getting N10 billion each.
A source lamented that many of the projects cannot be implemented on account of the fact that they failed the due process mechanism of government.
"Many of the Constituency projects included by the legislature are believed to be padded and may not have passed due process.
The executive believed that the Due Process Office was mostly intimidated to leave the scrutiny of the projects and there by leaving the budget in jeopardy. It is not all the projects. Many senators were known to have initiated credible projects but the questions are hanging on projects of many Federal Constituencies."
Faced with the dogged determination of the federal lawmakers on the execution of the constituency projects, the Presidency, it was learnt is considering a judicial action at the Supreme Court for a clear interpretation of the provisions of Section 81 of the constitution.
"A lot of distortions crop up in the budget process, due largely to the misrepresentation of Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution. The National Assembly seems to have developed the thinking that the power over appropriation lies solely with them. This is erroneous and the government may be forced to try this out in the Supreme Court," a Presidency source disclosed.