Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, says one way to earn a living in Abuja, the country’s capital city, is to organise protests.
Ekweremadu said this on the floor of the senate while contributing to a debate on a motion sponsored by Barnabas Gamade, senator representing Benue north-east.
Gemade was reacting to a protest at the entrance of the national assembly against constituency projects.
He argued that the idea of constituency projects is a way the presence of legislators could be felt by those they represent.
However, the deputy senate president said the protest was sponsored by government officials who are opposed to the national assembly.
“Let me recognize 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 protest. There are people are consider as protest contractors,” Ekweremadu said.
“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 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 we 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 has 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.”
He said anyone person opposed to these projects is an enemy of the people.
“We should focus and ensure that in any budget that this is provided for because this is the only way we touch the lives of people we represent in this country,” the deputy senate president said.
“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 outnumbers 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 the part of 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.”
On June 20, President Muhammadu Buhari complained about the insertions of over 4,000 projects to the 2018 budget by the national assembly when he signed the appropriations bill.