Deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, has accused some unnamed government officials, who according to him are opposed to the National Assembly, of sponsoring protests against the legislature.
He stated this while contributing to a debate on a motion sponsored by Senator Barnabas Gemade, following a protest at the entrance of the National Assembly against constituency projects.
A group of protesters, under the auspices of Citizens’ Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN), on Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly to protest what they said was the siphoning of money meant for constituency projects across the country.
Gemade had argued that the idea of constituency projects is a way the presence of legislators could be felt by those they represent.
Ekweremadu, said such protests were one of the many ways of survival in Abuja.
“Let me recognise that we have problems and challenges in Nigeria. But I would limit myself to the issue of unemployment and poverty. Rising from this, some people have found a way of surviving. One way of surviving in Abuja is to organise protests. There are people who are considered as protest contractors.
“What is happening is that some people go to government officials or governors who they believe are opposed to the National Assembly, they gather protesters and give them N1500 each. Some they pay them only N500 as in the case of today, to come and protest in the front of National Assembly.
“So each time I see them, I feel sorry for this country that some people are doing things they do not believe in. The issue of protesting today against constituency projects is to say the least, very embarrassing. I come from a constituency in this country where indeed constituency projects is working and I challenge anybody who says it’s not working to come with any contradiction of what I am saying that constituency projects in my senatorial district have been implemented as allocations were released. There is no abuse whatsoever. I challenge anyone who feels it has been abused to come up with evidence of such,” the deputy senate president stated.
He said anyone person opposed to these projects is an enemy of the people.
“No amount of black mail or intimidation should stop the implementation of constituency projects. I admit like every other thing in life, it is being abused in some places and by some people but that is not to suggest that the benefits do not outnumber some of the issues we have raised. If anybody has any particular evidence of the abuse of constituency projects, the Senate and indeed the National Assembly is prepared to deal with it.
“But to say that constituency projects should be discontinued, I believe that is the height of insensitivity to our people. So whoever is collecting money to come to the National Assembly to come and oppose the issue of constituency projects, that is not going to happen so I want to advise my constituents.”