Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for Second Reading, a bill to establish the South East Development Commission (SEDC).
The House had, in June 2017, rejected the SEDC bill, which resulted in a rowdy session in the Green Chamber. South East lawmakers simply quared up against their counterparts from the North.
However, following uproar generated by the rejection of the bill, the SEDC bill was introduced in the Senate, passed and sent to the House for concurrence.
The proposed Commission is intended to serve as a catalyst in the development of the economic potential of the South East, as well as receive and manage fund from allocation of the Federation for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and reparation for houses and business of victims of the Nigerian civil war and other environmental or developmental challenges in the zone.
Leading debate on the bill at yesterday’s plenary, Chairman of House Committee on Agricultural Services, Mohammed Monguno, who stood in for the Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the SEDC, when established would go a long way to address developmental challenges in the South East.
Monguno said although the bill was thrown out in the House, for two years, there is the need to approve a development commission for the South East; to address the peculiar challenges confronting the zone, as was done for the people of the North East recently.
“I am urging my colleagues without any dissent to support the bill, so that this bill will see the light of the day, so that our brothers and sisters in the South East part of the country will enjoy what is extended to the North East,” he stated.
Several lawmakers, who contributed to the debate stressed the need for the House to create a development commission for the South East zone to address the devastation of the zone during the Nigerian civil war and ecological challenges ravaging the area.
One of the lawmakers, who spoke in favour of the bill, Chukwuemeka Ujam, noted that “we continuously preach one Nigeria. When our brothers from the North East came with a bill, we supported them. A lot of people have alluded to the civil war, but there are a plethora of other environmental challenges.
“Mr. Speaker, I appeal to my colleagues to, with conscience, support this bill. The people of the South East have been yearning for proper development. If other zones want development commission, so be it. We can have as many as possible. If not, lets cancel all development commission. We can’t pick and choose as we like. We should support the bill devoid of ethnic sentiment.”
On the flip side, Hassan Shekarau said there was no justification for the bill and urged the House to reject it, again. He said the parliament cannot keep creating commissions to cater for environmental devastation in development parts of the country.