Some senators have berated the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), over its poor funding of the various projects they facilitated for their constituencies under the Zonal Intervention Programme.
The Buhari regime has been voting N100bn in the country’s annual budgets to fund the projects and programmes facilitated by federal lawmakers for their constituents but many of them usually end up as abandoned projects due to inadequate funding.
Reacting to Buhari’s budget speech on Thursday when he announced another N100bn as ZIP, some senators who spoke with our correspondent on Friday said the poor release of funds to execute the projects had messed up the programme.
An investigation by our correspondent revealed that 30 per cent of the N100bn voted for the ZIP was released in 2019, forcing the lawmakers to decry the development at various fora.
Findings also revealed that the programme was being grossly underfunded in the 2020 fiscal year.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba, complained that the funds being released were not enough to fund the projects he facilitated for his constituency.
He said, “One thing is to present the budget, another thing is to ensure its implementation.
“It is not as if the country does not generate revenue but the money generated usually go down the drain.
“What the revenue-generating agencies declare for the nation through the federation account does not commensurate with what they collect.
“Efforts should be made to ensure that all monies generated go to the federation account.
“Once that is done, the issue of poor revenue to fund the budget would be tackled. The N100bn ZIP has been reoccurring in the budget every year.
“I am surprised that money has not increased. What comes to my constituency to execute the ZIP is not more than N200m. The projects that the money was used for in my constituency are there for everyone to see. There is no federal government project in my constituency.”
He said the development was affecting the impact of government in the lives of his constituents.
Also, a former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, said, “The government is not doing enough to make sure that the budget that is articulated and presented by the President is well implemented and the impact is felt.”
“We have huge sums allocated but they are not released and there is nothing on the ground. There is a need to do something about that,” he added.
The Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, agreed with his colleagues complaining about the poor funding of the ZIP, stressing that the percentage of yearly releases from the Federal Ministry of Finance was not enough to execute the projects.
He said, “I think my colleagues who are complaining about poor funding of the ZIP are right. Of course, there is no way the projects we facilitated could be completed based on the amount being released.
“However, since it is an intervention programme, I think we should concentrate on things that touch on the welfare and security of our citizens.”
However, the Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru, denied that senators were angry about the poor funding of the ZIP.
He said, “I have not seen any media reports where any senator was angry over the implementation or non-implementation of the constituency projects.
“We also know the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic and the decline of oil prices in the international market are doing to our economy.
“We are ready to do whatever we can do to see an improved economy so that all projects would receive adequate and proper funding.”