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Protest Rocks Rivers Over Award Of Federal Constituency Projects

 

Some residents in Rivers State have staged a protest, demanding accountability in the award and execution of federal projects in the 27 political wards of the constituency. 

Our correspondent on ground during the protest, said the protesters from Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency, asked that the leadership of the National Assembly, and the respective ministries and agencies, ensure that the award of federal constituency projects in their area, is compliant with the Public Procurement Act which enables them to know the companies handling what project, and follow up on the progress of work.

The protest in the Igwuruta community in Ikwerre Local Government Area, comes after about three months of sensitisation of the constituents on the need to hold their representatives to account.

The Convener of the Advocacy Group, Okwu Bethel-Chimzie, said the constituents are better informed to take up the watchdog role over their commonwealth, rather than always lamenting poor performance by representatives across all levels.

He said: “There are several projects that have not been executed, for example, in the 2019 budget, there was a particular amount of money allocated for the purchase of speed boats for people in Ikwerre /Emohua Federal Constituency, that was about N70 million that we saw in the budget.

“We went around looking for who these engines were bought for, who are supposed to be fishermen, but we could not find anybody”.

He also said people are now aware that the president and other elected officials, are not to be completely blamed for the underdevelopments in the constituencies, because even the lawmakers receive funds for projects.

Bethel-Chimzie explained that he believed that the protest, would help to restore the people’s confidence in democratic governance, and ensure that the constituency is not shortchanged, especially in the implementation of the 2024 Budget of the federal government.

Some of the protesters

While urging other constituents to take a cue from them and set lawmakers on their toes, the convener who is also a lawyer, said the group has notified the anti-graft agencies on the matter.

“We have already set in motion everything that will happen if, by the end of this year, nothing happens. The EFCC, ICPC, and Physical Responsibility Commission will be aware and we have already told them that their core mandate is to ensure investigations and track federal projects across the country and we have told them in a letter dated February 7, 2024, that Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency should be the priority.”

He said the constituents will not take any chances this year.

When contacted, the federal lawmaker for Ikwerre / Emohua Constituency, Boniface Emerengwa, did not take calls to his phone. He did not also reply to the text messages sent to his phone and his on WhatsApp.

 

Opeoluwani Akintayo

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