Rivers: Unrest As Federal Constituency Projects Spark Protest

Residents from various corners of Rivers State united in a protest, advocating for transparency in how federal projects are selected and carried out within the 27 electoral areas.

Journalists on the scene of the protest observed that participants representing the Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency voiced their demands directed at the National Assembly leadership and pertinent government bodies.

They urged for strict adherence to the Public Procurement Act in the allocation of federal constituency projects within their region. This regulation enables them to identify the contractors responsible for each project and oversee the progress of implementation.

The demonstration within the Igwuruta community in Ikwerre Local Government Area follows approximately three months of extensive awareness campaigns aimed at empowering constituents to demand accountability from their elected representatives.

According to Okwu Bethel-Chimzie, the Convener of the Advocacy Group, constituents are now more enlightened and prepared to actively monitor the utilization of their communal assets, rather than consistently bemoaning the subpar performance of representatives at all tiers of government.

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”.

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Furthermore, he pointed out that there is a heightened awareness among the public that attributing all underdevelopments in constituencies solely to the president and other elected officials is misguided, considering that lawmakers also have access to funds for implementing projects.

Bethel-Chimzie articulated his belief that the protest serves as a catalyst for reinstating public trust in democratic governance and safeguarding the constituency from being shortchanged, particularly in the execution of the federal government’s 2024 Budget.

Encouraging others within the constituency to emulate their actions and keep lawmakers accountable, the convener, who doubles as a legal expert, underscored that the group has formally informed anti-corruption agencies about the situation.

“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 stressed that constituents are adamant about not taking any risks this year.

Despite numerous attempts to reach out, Boniface Emerengwa, the federal representative for Ikwerre / Emohua Constituency, did not answer any calls made to his phone or messages sent via text or WhatsApp.

Africa Today News, New York

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