• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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The absurdity and ‘Ludicrosity’ of these constituency projects!

The absurdity and ‘Ludicrosity’ of  these constituency projects!

At times, I am better able to express myself when I ‘manufacture’ my own English words. As for the original English language, ‘e get as e be’! It is confusing enough! There is a ‘thief’ but there are no ‘thiefs’; it must be thieves! They have wives but no ‘wifes’; it must be wives! There is a musician, but they grudgingly acknowledge an academician; it is rather ‘an academic’! They have ships, but there are no “sheeps”, and while adultery is a religious or moral infraction committed by adults, infantry has nothing to do with infants! What of choir instead of straightforward ‘qaya’ or ‘kwaya’? In the Nigerian political arena, you can shamelessly and fraudulently decamp from a party, under which you campaigned and obtained votes, to another party, provided you can prove that there is a crisis in the party. The crisis may just be that the secretary did not greet the chairman properly at a caucus meeting. ‘Corollarily’, because the English language cannot put its house in order, I am at liberty to create my own version and even register and obtain copyright for the same! All this circumlocution is because I feel so pissed off by their ‘constituency project’ business, and particularly the weird nature of some of these projects, to the extent that I believe that absurdity is not enough. I therefore decided to strengthen it with ‘ludicrosity’, instead of ludicrousness, which is the right word.

All over the democratic world, even in pseudo-democracies or pretend-democracies, the principal duty of the legislature is law-making. They make laws for the individual and collective well-being of their constituents, but with an inclusive and holistic mindset because there are different constituencies with different challenges and peculiarities. The greatest law-making responsibilities are in constitution-making and budgeting, which do not include padding gymnastics. They also have oversight and public petition responsibilities. There may well be other ancillary responsibilities.

In Nigeria, however, because this is Nigeria, a nebulous concept has emerged and reached the very top of legislative activism and discourse. That term is the constituency project (CP), and it has become so relevant that legislators now assess themselves in terms of CP, and they have so thrown it in the face of the people that it is now foolhardy to discuss legislative performance without talking about CPs. Unfortunately and sadly, in the process, the primary assignments of the legislators take a backseat, that is, if they are mentioned at all.

Q: “Unfortunately and sadly, in the process, the primary assignments of the legislators take a backseat, that is, if they are mentioned at all.”

There is something wrong with the concept because project allocation and execution ordinarily belong to the executive realm. But that is a minor matter. The major matter with the theory and practice of constituency projects is that most of the daylight theft in the National Assembly is routed through the constituency projects. While those who attract roads and the like will indicate being attracted by so and so’, those who give out things like refrigerators, motorcycles, or burial materials will act as if they were from their personal pockets. Beyond the iniquity that pervades the entire process, the inequitable sharing of the spoils cries to heaven for vengeance as the leadership and ‘ranking’ members voraciously corner all that there is and leave the crumb for the others. And these others complain, not because of all the shenanigans but because their constituents will grade them as failures. In the last budgeting cycle, the number of freezers cornered by Akpabio for his constituents may be enough to serve the whole households in the Gambia!!!

However, the biggest problem with the constituency projects is the demeaning, dehumanising, and insulting types of items donated as constituency projects by some of our “Legislooters” or “Legislathieves.” This topic has been in my pipeline for more than 5 years and would have remained there for a while longer had not Senator Hanga stirred the hornet’s nest by openly and proudly donating burial materials to his constituents. These items were made up of white fabrics and clay pots used for burial in his place. However, the way I understand it, this is equivalent to distributing caskets to constituents. This, according to him, is in response to frequent requests for burial assistance by his people. So, they should die and go in peace, particularly without disturbing his busy schedule? This morbid gesture is the most weird of all constituency projects executed in Nigeria and even beyond. Giving your constituents burial materials as a constituency project merits a place in the Guinness Book of Records, and I will register an NGO to push vigorously for it!

I just noted that this issue has been in the pipeline for a while. Now, here are some award-winning CPs in town, and I will crave your indulgence to determine the winner of the gold medal award in CP, the one with the highest tokenistic quotient. Daniel Ukpera, a Benue politician, donated ropes to ‘his people’, with which to tie their goats. Note that he did not provide the goats; just the ropes for the goats! In 2022, an honourable councillor donated two plastic mats to the Sadad community in the Kebbe LGA of Sokoto. And he was so happy with himself that he pictured and posted this act of unapparent legislative generosity. Maigari Bello-Kasimu, representing Jalingo/Yorro/Zing federal constituency in Taraba State, upped the ante by donating wheelbarrows to the poor, who had hitherto hired these one-wheel vehicles on a daily basis. In August 2021, Hon. Evangelist Margaret Inde, the Chairman of Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State, empowered pilot farmers each with a hoe, cutlass, and one tuber of yam. Just one tuber of yam.

In July 2021, Umar Muda Lawal, representing Toro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State in the green chamber, donated 10 deep wells( not boreholes) to his constituents and boldly announced the same in his Twitter account( now X): ‘This time we are going outside the box to construct 10 deep wells in 10 rural towns and villages of Toro LGA. Because traditional wells are often more reliable and last longer than any modern small-scale water supply system, Most wells today are centuries old and still working.” excellent justification. His people should go back to the ‘hygienic and sustainable’ deep-well days while he is in Abuja, enjoying water from integrated water treatment systems. On July 9, 2021, Senator Oriolowo of Osun West in the 9th Assembly unveiled an Airtel mast at Ago-Owu Farm Settlement as a constituency project, saying it exemplified APC fidelity with promises. I wondered why Airtel did not sue him for this barefaced conversion.

Earlier in 2018, an unknown member of the Federal House of Representatives from Borno State empowered over 5,000 youths with the new improved shoe shining kit, fully equipped with polish and brushes. I thought this was an indigenous thing until I came across a Kenyan politician, Rebecca Lomong, Baringo County, Kenya, who donated a single, self-branded pot (popularly called sufria) to a primary school in Kenya and ensured that it was fully ‘cameraed’

Please note, voting should start now in the ‘best’, actually the most weird constituency project ([email protected], 08033026625, or comments@businessday). Winners will jointly receive, as their prize, one of my textbooks, which they should share as they wish! Is this not better than these CPs?

Ik Muo, PhD. Dept of Bus Admin, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye 08033026625