Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has said that the idea of the North East Commission is never that of President Muhammadu Buhari but that of the National Conference of 2014.
Reacting to the comment attributed to Buhari that the North East commission was his compensation to the region’s massive electoral support in the just concluded Feburary 2019 presidential election, Clark said, the claim shows he has no regard for originators of the idea.
He said it was wrong for the president to tie development programme to political patronage, warning that if development is tied to political patronage then the country is doomed.
Clark said: “I emphatically wish to state that the decision for establishing the NEDC was not the original idea of President Buhari; it did not originate as an executive memo from him to the National Assembly.
“The historic National Conference of 2014 which Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari had no regard for, was indeed the originator of the idea for setting up of the NEDC. The credit should go to the 2014 National Conference for its patriotic thoughtfulness, and to the National Assembly, for initiating the bill for the establishment of the commission.”
Buhari, while inaugurating the board last week, had said it was in fulfilment of the pledge of his administration to fast track the development of the region.
The North-East is badly damaged as a result of the activities of insurgent group Boko Haram.
The president also said the establishment of the commission was in appreciation of the massive electoral support the zone gave him in the 2015 and 2019 general elections.
For the successful take-off of the commission, the president said N10 billion was provided in this year’s budget. He had urged the board to judiciously use the fund.
He mandated the board to conduct a comprehensive survey in all the states in the northeast to know the magnitude of the damage caused by the insurgency.