From Fred Itua, Abuja
A new Bill seeking to establish a South East Development Commission is in the offing in the Senate.
The new bill, sponsored by some yet-be-identified senators from the geopolitical zone titled: “An Act to establish the South East Development Commission in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act as catalyst to develop the Commercial potentials of the South East and other connected matters,” is coming few days after shouting match in the House of Representatives following the rejection of a similar bill by the lower Chamber.
Multiple sources in the Senate said the bill could come up for a second Reading this week. Section 1 of the bill establishes the South East Development Commission, which it said shall have its headquarters in Enugu, Enugu State.
Section 1(4), however, introduced another dimension, which provides the leeway for the Commission to only exist for 10 years after which the President could wind it up following the approval of the National Assembly.
The section reads: “The President may, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, wind up the Commission after 10 years.”
The bill also indicates that the management board of the Commission shall consist of the Chairman and one representative each from Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states as well as representatives of Federal Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice.
A member of the Board of the Commission shall, according to the bill hold office for four years and could have his appointment renewed for another four years.
Some of the functions highlighted for the Commission include release of policies and guidelines for the development of the South East as well as the conception of plans for development in accordance with set rules, while also producing regulations, programmes and projects for the sustainable development of the South East.
The Commission is also expected to provide roadmaps for development of roads, education, health facilities, industrialization, agriculture, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and commerce in the area.
It is also expected to provide master plans for reduction of unemployment and schemes to promote the physical development of the South East.
It would estimate the cost of implementing such master plans and schemes while implementing all the approved measures for development.
Like the bill rejected in the House, the Senate Bill did not impose any financial burden on the Federal Government as its operations would be funded by 15 percent of federal allocations due to its member states.