The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed for second reading, a bill seeking to establish a South-West Development Commission.
During the debates marking the second reading, members from across the northern and southern regions and the six geopolitical zones expressed their support for the proposed agency.
Leading the debate, Mr Femi Fakeye, who, together with 80 other members, sponsored the bill, recalled that the post-independence Western Region not only included the current six South-West states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo, but extended to parts of today’s Edo and Delta states.
Fakeye said, “The case of the South-West today is precarious because the population has not only increased, but remains mostly agrarian, with exports still largely consisting of primary produce items from the same old plantations that are now yearning for replanting.
“With the exception of a few scattered additions since independence, the same network of (Obafemi) Awolowo roads that crisscrossed the region, built before or within the First Republic, is pretty much what the people in many parts of the South-West still drive on.
“Vehicular traffic in the Lagos metropolis, with a current population estimated at over 20 million, is so chaotic because there is no mass-transit alternative. Yet, Lagos remains the country’s major business hub and window on the investment world.”
Fakeye stated that if the AfCFTA would have any meaning for Nigeria, the country’s industrial base and hub must be strengthened and the passage of the bill would be a right step towards achieving that.
The Deputy Chief Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, described the bill as a wake-up call for the National Assembly, while Buba Yakub pointed out that Lagos, being the commercial capital of Nigeria, does not belong to anybody but all Nigerians.
Another member, Nicholas Ossai, said Lagos and the South-West by extension, have the biggest seaports in the country, thereby mounting pressure on facilities in the area.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on December 27, 2019, that apart from the Niger Delta Development Commission and the North East Development Commission that are already in existence, the remaining four geopolitical zones in the country are currently pushing for their respective commissions at the National Assembly.