The 9th Senate on Thursday endorsed the South East Development Commission bill which has just scaled the second reading.
The bill sponsored by Senator Oduah, Stella Adaeze (Anambra North) titled “A bill for an act to establish the South East Development Commission in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act as a catalyst to develop the commercial potentials of the South East and other connected matters, 2020 (SB. 161)” scaled its second reading.
During her lead debate Oduah explained to her colleagues that the establishment of the commission would promote national unity and boost the nation’s revenue.
She explained further that the bill would harness the potential of the South East in the aspect of managerial, entrepreneurship, science and technology thus increasing the revenue allocation to the federation account. She also noted that the commission would address the development challenges in the region as well as address the agitations witnessed in the region due to marginalisation.
Speaking in support of the bill, Senator Kabiru Gaya ( Kano South) commended Oduah for coming up with the bill. He also suggested the increment in the financial content of the bill, stating that the proposed amount was meagre. Gaya also pointed out that the establishment of the commission would address the environmental challenges like erosion witnessed in the region.
In his words “I wish to commend Senator Stella; I support this bill. The South East youths should be encouraged to manufacture machinery. The erosions can’t be solved alone locally; they can get assistance from the international communities.
“I am happy that she has brought the financial compendium; she needs to review the proposal. I think the amount is low, I support this bill.”
Senator Ibrahim Gobir on his part threw his weight behind the bill; he noted that it would solve the infrastructure challenges and also contribute to the educational sector of the South East.
He said: “I rise to support this bill; the commission is going to assist the South East to develop themselves in the aspect of education, roads, etc. It is going to assist the region in a very long way.”
Supporting the bill, Senator Barau Jubrin (Kano North) said the establishment of the bill would ensure equity in the development of the regions of the country. He cited Lagos State as the most developed part in the county, while stating further that creating the commission would promote balancing in the development of the nation’s regions.
He said: “I supported this bill in the 8th Senate; I believe every part of this country should be developed. We don’t want a situation when one region is developed than the other region. It is good to look at the peculiarities of each zone and seek means of developing them and addressing their challenges. We all supported the North West development commission, so I call on my colleagues to support this bill.
South East senator, Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central ) rallied his colleagues to support the bill; he described the South East as a hardworking people. He also appealed to the president of the country to sign the bill in other law after its final passage by the Senate.
He said: “I rise to support this bill and one thing that is interesting is that this bill was passed in the 8th Assembly. Mr. Senate President, so many people have said so many things about this bill. We the south easterners are very hardworking; if we are given this commission, it will go a long way in telling the youths that the Federal Government knows that the South East exists.
“I want the president of the county to find a way in his heart to assent to this bill. We the South East senators have been supporting other zones; they should support also us too.”
Senator Michael Nnaji (Ebonyi South) opined that the bill is devoid of sentiments; he appealed to his colleagues to support it.
Senator Rochas Okorocha, speaking in support of the bill said that the creation of the commission will erase the impression of marginalisation being expressed by south easterners. He lamented the exclusion of the southeast zone from as beneficiaries of the recently-approved $22.7 bn development loan requested by President Buhari.
He said: “This bill is very important; it would be reassuring and give South East people a sense of belonging.
“When we talk about the South East, there is the undefined impression in the minds of people. But the South East are true nationalists that are found everywhere in this country. There is no village where you can’t find an Igboman.
“There is this feeling of marginalisation; the South East was not included in the $22.7 billion development loan.
“The Igbo feel rejected – that they are not part of the system. In this hallow chambers, the South East still feels neglected.
“The people are not carried along. If you talk about technology and scientific development the South East are blessed.”
At the conclusion of contributions, the Senate in a voice vote unanimously approved the bill for a second reading. Senate President Ahmed Lawan referred the bill to the Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters which will report to the Senate within four weeks.