Nigeria: Constituency Projects - Buhari's Comment Erroneous - Senator

20 November 2019

The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has said President Muhammadu Buhari's comments on constituency projects are erroneous.

The president said there is little to show for over one trillion Naira budgeted for constituency projects of the National Assembly members in the last 10 years.

"It is on record that in the past 10 years one trillion naira has been appropriated for constituency projects, yet the impact of such huge spending on the lives and welfare of ordinary Nigerians can hardly be seen," Mr Buhari said at a event organised by the anti-graft agency, ICPC.

Briefing journalists on Wednesday, Mr Abaribe described the president's comment as erroneous and containing elements of false information.

"We are not worried by the statement. The reason we are not worried is because we know that it was a statement that was erroneous. Somebody must have written a speech and then put false information in the speech.

"I have done constituency projects and we have always said that they are not done by senators or members of the House of Representatives. They are domiciled in the executive who execute it. If the president said he has not seen anything, he should ask his ministers and his agencies under him as the executive as they are the people who have been executing these projects," he said.

The lawmaker also said the caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) "totally reject" the results of the Kogi and Bayelsa states governorship elections.

"We are worried about the trend of what happened in those elections. The outright intimidation and killing of Nigerians during the elections we know that results are not a true reflection of what happened in the field.

"We are concerned that all the gains made by the PDP since 1999 seem to have been eroded by elections starting in Edo, Osun, Ekiti, and recently Bayelsa and Kogi seem to have been lost," he said.

Mr Abaribe expressed worry over the killing of a PDP Woman Leader in Kogi State "even after results had been announced and winners declared."

He called on the president to direct the Inspector-General of Police to immediately fish out the killers of the "lady whose only offence is that she is a member of the opposition."

"What it tells us is that all of us who are members of the opposition are not safe. We hear that police are launching an investigation, but it must not be swept under the carpet. Senator Dino Melaye also told me that his cousin was killed.

"If we leave the matter to continue to stay this way we don't know what will happen in 2023. For INEC, all we have seen is a steady decline in the efficacy of our elections.

"We do not know where they got the figures they brandished. We are in touch with our members in the various states. We are totally resolved to confront what is going on in our electoral system," he said.

Meanwhile, in a separate briefing the Senate spokesperson, Godiya Akwashiki, (APC, Nasarawa), simply said the president has not written to the National Assembly about his concerns on the constituency projects.

"The President is the President of this country. He spoke as Chief Executive but you people sometimes you can be funny. Mr President has not written to the National Assembly officially on this matter. We have modes of communication and I want to believe if he has anything he writes to us, he will," he explained.

When asked to comment on the Kogi and Bayelsa elections, Mr Akwashiki simply said the Senate is not in a position to talk about it.

He asked "anyone" with grievances regarding the conduct and results of the election to approach the court of law.

"I don't think it will be right for the Senate to say anything about the election in Kogi or Bayelsa states. Nigeria is not a lawless country and we must obey it. The Electoral Act has spelt out everything that there should be primaries between aspirants in political parties so a candidate will emerge.

"After the primaries, INEC will set aside a day to general election. Based on the Electoral Act, the elections have come and gone. If anyone has any grievances, they know what to do.

"I am here today because the former spokesperson of the Senate... appeal court said this... and I said it here last week that we sympathise with him and there is nothing we can do. He is an APC member like me. Today the man has been sacked. That position has been given to PDP, a woman PDP from his senatorial zone. Now today she is sitting in his seat and we didn't ask question. We take it in good faith."

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