By Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Yakubu Dogara, has said that no amount of blackmail from any quarters will force the National Assembly to jettison the idea of Zonal Intervention Projects because it is the tool with which they ensure equity in project allocation nationwide.
He added that though the instrumentality of zonal intervention projects has been grossly misunderstood and heavily criticised, it does not change the fact that it has brought development across all federal constituencies and federal presence to remote and forgotten areas in the country.
Dogara made the statements while speaking at the public hearing organised by the Joint Committees of Appropriation of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“Over the years, the efforts of legislators, especially at the National Assembly to inject equity in budget patronage nationwide through the instrumentality of zonal intervention projects has been grossly misunderstood and terribly maligned mostly by those who are deliberately ignorant and have concocted their own concept of constituency projects which they apply as their yardstick of measurement.
“I make bold to state that, but for Zonal Intervention Projects, many communities in Nigeria would never have enjoyed any form of Federal Government patronage. Put differently, zonal intervention projects represent the only evidence of Federal government presence in most rural communities of Nigeria.
“Consequently, as representatives of the people, no amount of blackmail from any quarters will force us to abandon our resolve to ensure even development across all federal constituencies”, he said.
He called on stakeholders, and indeed all Nigerians who are showing more interest in the budget making process, to pay greater attention to the implementation of approved budget
and not the size because only effective budget implementation determines its quality.
“Demand strict accountability from all elected officials on this matter. Jacob Lew captured the issue succinctly when he said, ‘The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.’ The citizen must therefore insist on the total realisation of these values and aspirations rather than merely the collection of figures,” he stressed.