Finally, Senate passes South-East Development Commission Bill

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By Okechukwu Jombo

Senate at plenary on Thursday passed a Bill for an Act to establish the South East Development Commission charged with the responsibility among other things to receive and manage funds from allocation of the federation Account for reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructural damages suffered by the region as result of the effect of civil war as well as tackle the ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges faced by the South East states of Nigeria and for related matters 2024.

Recall that the clamour for a Southeast Development Commission has lingered long in the National Assembly but has failed at every attempt since the 8th Assembly. This time it returns to the senate in the form of a concurrence bill from the House of Representatives.

Supporting the bill on the establishment of South East development Commission, when it was read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, Senator Victor Umeh, (Labour Party, Anambra Central) explained that the establishment of the South East Development Commission will aid infrastructure development in the region since the end of the Civil War in Nigeria.

However, the process of passing the bill for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s assent was achieved through the upper Chamber’s concurrence with the House of Representatives where the bill originated from in the 10th National Assembly.

The final passage of the bill on Thursday was achieved through clause by clause consideration of the relevant sections of the bill.

Some critical aspect of the Bill included expunging the clauses that had to do with replacing the inclusion of security chiefs at the decision making of the Commission with six representatives each from the six geopolitical zones of the federation as board members also the inclusion of Representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Budget, National Planning and Environment.

Again the three Executive Directors whose operations will reflect that obtainable in North East and Niger Delta Development Commissions should be full time basis.

In his remark at the end of the passage of the Bill, President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio said, “this bill is a very important bill that this 10 the Senate has passed. I had to heat the gavel severally to underscore the fact that this bill addresses all the fears of our brothers and sisters and my in-laws in the SouthEast states.”

“I want to say congratulations to you all and I pray that this commission will bring developments that will assist you to stop any form of agitation and bring peace to the region.

“I want to state that with the passage of this bill today the South East is no longer marginalized.

“I pray that when we harmonize with the House all the fears of the region will be taken care of”, he added.