The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has reassured that the National Assembly would not abandon Zonal Intervention Projects, regardless of the amount of criticism faced by the lawmakers.

Dogara gave the assurance at the 2018 National Budget hearing organised by the Joint Committee on Appropriation of the Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Speaker described the Zonal Intervention Projects as tool through which the lawmakers could ensure equity in allocating projects nationwide.

He said that the instrumentality of the Zonal Intervention Projects had been “grossly misunderstood and terribly maligned’’.

Dogara, however, said that such misunderstanding would not change the fact that it had brought development across all federal constituencies.

“Over the years, the efforts of legislators, especially at the National Assembly to inject equity in budget patronage nationwide through the instrumentality of zonal intervention projects has been grossly misunderstood and terribly maligned.

“This is mostly by those who are deliberately ignorant and have concocted their own concept of constituency projects which they apply as their yardstick of measurement.

“I make bold to state that but for Zonal Intervention Projects, many communities in Nigeria would never have enjoyed any form of Federal Government patronage.

“Put differently, Zonal Intervention Projects represents the only evidence of Federal Government presence in most rural communities of Nigeria.

“Consequently, as representatives of the people, no amount of blackmail from any quarters will force us to abandon our resolve to ensure even development across all federal constituencies,” he said.

Also speaking, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said that “in our interrogation of the 2018 Budget proposal, we have chosen to place more emphasis on getting our revenue projections right.

“The importance of setting realistic revenue targets and achieving them cannot be overemphasised, especially as revenue performance has tended to fall below targets in the past.

“It is also observed that non-oil revenue performances have been impacted by policy inconsistencies and leakages.

“The Made-in-Nigeria initiative with particular regard to government procurements is already the thrust of a significant law passed by the 8th National Assembly,’’ he said.

According to Saraki, the development has the added advantage of helping to revamp the country’s industrial base.

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