NORTHERNERS OPPOSED SOUTH EASTN DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION BILL.

New Hope For The South East Development Commission Bill

New Hope For The South East Development Commission Bill


The pronounce­ment last Saturday by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, that the South East National Assembly Cau­cus would engage in a fresh push for the passage of a bill that seeks to establish the South East Develop­ment Commission, is most salutary. The bill seeking the establishment of a South East Development Com­mission failed to scale the appar­ently low hurdle of qualifying for a second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives recently and the development was received here with mixed feelings. In fact, that it ended up becoming one of the top news items of the day in question did not surprise us as much as that it threw the house into a session rowdy enough to force an adjustment of its normal proceedings. And there, we dare say, is where its newsworthiness punch was packed.
Rejected via a voice vote called twice – for doubters’ benefit, per­haps – we can immediately begin to adduce the possible reasons to these manifestations that panned out afore and afterwards. Earlier, we can re­call, the same house had passed a bill to establish the North East De­velopment Commission which is awaiting the accent of the president. Therefore, to most observers it could have appeared as though what was just good for the goose had just been denied the gander. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the South East Economic Summit, Ekweremadu re­vealed that lawmakers from the zone would engage in consultations with their colleagues in other zones before a fresh presentation of the bill.
However, though the calls the com­missions in the disparate zones may appear analogous in time and space, the core reasons behind them are not.
Like is well known, the North East is still presently being freed from the stranglehold of Boko Haram insur­gents that had ridden over the en­tire zone, enthroning their peculiar governmental modes. The devasta­tion they unleashed being so much that the house had even had cause to reject the =N=45bn (Forty-five bil­lion Naira) presidential proposal for the rehabilitation of the zone by the Presidential Committee on North East Initiative (PCNI) for being ‘pal­try’ among other shortcomings.
All things being equal, it becomes obvious that compared to the above scenario, the reason given for the call from the South East appears rather remote. According to the chief proponent of the motion Hon. Chu Onyema of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency of Anambra State, the zone needed the commis­sion foremost to develop collapsed infrastructure – roads, houses, en­vironmental degradation, etc. – and other damages suffered during the civil war fought close to half a cen­tury ago.
All the same, the revolting thing about the whole incident, remains the reality that while the South South and South West supported the bill, it was the zones in the north – East, West and Central – that opposed it; and with such vehemence that there appeared to be more to it than con­fronts the eye. More so given that their strongest point for opposing the bill is its timing; a reference, no doubt, to the current agitation in the country for a restructuring of its con­stituent parts as well as the renewed call for the selfsame state of Biafra.
Viewed critically, it can be argued that the creation of the commission may have gone a long way to douse some of these sentiments given the ingrained marginalization being cited by the architects of these calls. Like no less a person than Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central has opined. According to him, the Federal Government should help douse these sentiments by car­rying all parts of the country along politically, economically, socially as well as culturally given the plasticity inherent in its earlier efforts.
Specifics wise, it beggars under­standing, for instance, that the North East zone should have seven states to the South East’s five in this day and age of democracy. Also, while the former boasts as many as two hun­dred local government areas, the lat­ter has five less to a hundred. By us, this should have been reason enough to allow the zone a development commission; at least, till the dispar­ity is balanced. This would have, in the least, made the Ohaneze Ndigbo not see the current scenario play­ing out as another of the many indi­ces portraying the zone as a victim of orchestrated political, economic marginalization like it released in its statement. And so much has this be­come that there is now a heightened enthusiasm to the call for a refer­endum therein. All hope is not lost though. Some of it may be yet be sal­vaged by the proposed Erosion Con­trol and Prevention Commission bill. Sponsored by Hon Obinna Chidoka representing Idemmili North/South Federal Constituency of Anambra State, the house chairman on Envi­ronment and Habitat, it has lately passed first and second readings awaiting public hearing.

Finally, though it may appear like medicine administered after the pa­tient had died, ODOGWU MEDIA, is well minded to still offer a word or two of advice. The South East De­velopment Commission Bill should have been given the chance to go through a second reading. Definitely, it may have warranted its subjection to a public hearing so that all the parties involved – apart from their representatives – would have been given an opportunity to make them­selves heard before its final burial – or resurrection. Now, we commend the Deputy Senate president for this second move. The zone badly needs a Special Intervention Fund from the Federation Account for the re­construction and rehabilitation of roads and other infrastructural dam­ages suffered by the region during the Civil War. Currently the zone is se­verely ravaged by ecological disasters like erosion which has swept away and buried several roads and com­munities in the South East
NORTHERNERS OPPOSED SOUTH EASTN DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION BILL. NORTHERNERS OPPOSED SOUTH EASTN DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION BILL. Reviewed by benedict odinaka on Monday, November 13, 2017 Rating: 5

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