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Reps move to pacify members over zonal intervention funds

The House of Representatives is ready to pacify members who are unhappy with the supposedly lopsided distribution of their part of the N100 billion zonal/intervention funds allocated to members of the National Assembly.

To this end, the leadership of the House is expected to hold an Executive session on Thursday to announce the redistribution of the funds to members.

The sub-committee set up by Speaker Yakubu Dogara amidst the crisis trailing the lopsidedness of the zonal/constituency project, had in its report presented to the House during an executive session held on resumption from the Easter recess, given the leadership of the House the fiat to maintain status quo.

The Nation, however, gathered that the leadership at another nocturnal meeting held last week resolved to use its prerogative to further distribute the funds in a more equitable manner.

Last year, in the wake of the allegation of huge differentials in the allocation of the N100 billion zonal intervention funds to both members of the Senate and House, the movement for equitable distribution of the fund had begun with some members challenging the leadership to change its allocation formula.

Though the movement soon petered out, nonetheless many members were not happy about the distribution of the fund also embedded in the N7.298 trillion budget proposal laid before the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 14th December 2016

The Nation learned that last week’s meeting, which was intra-party had over 270 members in attendance in spite of its nocturnal nature. But members from some states were said to have made their feelings known, particular after the subcommittee’s report which stated that the status quo be maintained was read to members.

The status quo being mentioned is that the Speaker is to retain the N3 billion allocation, Deputy Speaker is to retain N2.5 billion, Majority Leader is to retain N1.8 billion while the Minority also gets the same amount.

Recall that a couple of months ago, the House rolled out the bill of quantity for the N100 billion Zonal/Constituency projects that will be included in the 2017 Appropriation bill.

All 360 lawmakers were to pick from the list of shortlisted Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and ‘bill of quality’ for the constituency projects, a memo signed by Lawal Abubakar Garba, Chairman, House Committee on Constituency Outreach indicated.

However, one of the lawmakers who spoke on the condition of anonymity noted that the suspended former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC-Kano) had in a letter sent to all the members insisted that nothing would change.

Jibrin was alleged to have also taunted members in his letter that they would wait until the end of the current session before getting the Peugeot 508 supposedly ordered for them as the funds had already been pulled out of the House budget.

The contentious issue of the cars for members is also meant to be discussed at the closed-door session as the promise is almost two years old.

The nation learned that the proposed model meant for purchase by the House of Representatives may have gone up beyond the N4 billion budgeted for procurement of vehicles in the 2016 budget.

A source said a fluctuation in the dollar and variation of over N3 million per unit on the cars may be responsible for the delay in the supply of the cars.

“The leadership will want to explain reasons for the delay to members in the closed-door meeting as well as discuss other pertinent welfare issues,” the source further said.

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