By Isa Isawade
It was to a bewildered audience that Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), expressed shock and dismay over an apparent lack of substantial evidence in infrastructure to justify the N100 billion Federal Government’s annual allocation to constituency projects.
Owasanoye wondered how, in spite of trillions of naira that had gone into the initiative over the years, it was yet to make any significant impact in the lives of the communities for which such projects were meant and in the life of the country in terms of infrastructure development.
The ICPC boss expressed this on Thursday in Abuja during a special town hall meeting on fight against corruption organized by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in conjunction with the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
“If we genuinely spend N2 trillion on infrastructure development over a period of 10 years, it would diminish the tension and the escalation of discontent”, Owasanoye was said at the event.
He, however, informed the audience of progress of projects tracking programme of his agency in order to stem the tide of corruption in the sector.
According to him, the principal focus of the first phase of the tracking, which started some months ago, was on health and education sectors, adding that one or two locations were selected from each geopolitical zone, with emphasis on specific projects.
This, he said, was being carried out with effective collaboration with an inter agency committee made up of representatives from Budget Office; Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation; Bureau of Public Procurement; and Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
He informed that the outcome of the first phase had been “revealing and interesting”.
He said a lot of monies meant for constituency projects which were not executed or completed had been recovered.
This, he said, prompted over 200 contractors who had abandoned projects they collected money for to return to site before the team’s arrival.
Prof. Owasanoye, who assured that the commission would soon begin the second phase, said the first phase had exposed a lot.
He praised the approach as being more rewarding than just locking up sponsors and contractors of such constituency projects in jail without effectively recovering the projects for the communities.