Extensive foreign trips embarked upon by former President Olusegun Obasanjo were responsible for the decision of 4th legislature to set aside certain amount for constituency projects in the country.
The former Minority Leader of the National Assembly in 1999, Senator Isiaq Adebayo Salman told National Pilot in a telephone chat last night also defended the running cost of senators and members of the House of Representatives.
Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) recently revealed that senators collects N13.5m monthly as running cost while their salaries is pegged at N750,000 monthly.
Similar media reports indicated that the members of the lower chambers grossed between N8m-N12m monthly as running cost and close to N600,000 as salaries.
Since the revelation, the members of the hallowed chambers have come under attack from Nigerians with many accusing them of not being sensitive to the plight of the people and the present economic situation in the country.
But Senator Salman defended the legislature, adding that the running cost was not meant for the lawmakers alone but encompassed salaries of all the workers under a particular lawmaker and trips embarked upon within and outside the country among other huge expenses
He said the idea of constituency funds was occasioned by the need for the lawmakers to impact their people back home positively provide the dividend of democracy for them.
He said: “The issue of constituency fund for projects across the country was started by the 4th senate and the reason was simple.
“Back then in the state, we saw that the former President Obasanjo was junketing all over the world in the name of looking for investors, huge resources are being expended and if we were not careful, we might not achieve much in terms of projects back home for our people.
“So we decided to create a pool of fund to be used to fund various projects in our constituencies for the benefit of the people and the idea was well received and novel then. Our duty was to just identify the project we want to provide and it will be funded by the government. The money does not touch our hands.
“The running cost that some people are trying to criminalise the Senate for is very unfortunate. The money captures a lot of exigencies including your staff, travels and many others expenses.