• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Senate passes bill to establish South-East Development Commission

The Nigerian Senate has passed a bill for an Act to establish the South-East Development Commission (SEDC).

The Bill was passed after it was read for the third time during the plenary of the upper chamber on Thursday and will be transmitted to President Bola Tinubu for assent.

Read also: South-East Development Commission Bill scales second reading in Reps

The Bill was initially passed by the 8th Senate after years of agitation and attempts at the National Assembly but was not assented to by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Bill was reintroduced by Benjamin Kalu, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, and other lawmakers from the South East, and passed by the House of Representatives in December 2023.

The long title of the bill is, “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 the allocation of the Federation account for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructural damages suffered by the region as a result of the effects of the civil war, as well as tackle the ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges faced by the South Eastern states of Nigeria and for related matters, 2024”.

The Bill if signed into law, and the commission established, will act as a catalyst for the development of the commercial potential of the southeast geopolitical zone.

The passage of the Bill during Senate plenary yesterday followed the presentation of the bill by Senator Bamidele and consideration at the Committee of the Whole.

Certain amendments were made to the bill before its passage including: The removal of representatives of the Nigerian Army, The Nigerian Police, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

It was rather agreed that each of the six geopolitical zones have a representative on the board of the proposed Commission.

Senate President Godswill Akoabio then ruled that clause 2(c) should be adjusted to cater to the amendment.

Also, clause 2(h) was amended to give designations to the three Executive Directors as requested by both Senators Osita Izunaso and Osita Ugwu. This was supported by Senator Diket Plank (Plateau Central).

It was agreed that the Commission has; Executive Director, Finance and Account, Executive Director, Projects and Executive Director, Corporate Services.

Returning from the Committee of the Whole, the Senate President ruled on the clause by clause consideration and it was passed for a third reading and eventually passed.

The Senate President Godswill said the establishment of the commission would mean that the South-East is no longer marginalized, adding that it would also allay the fears of residents in the region.

He said that the expeditious action on the bill expresses the love the 10th Senate has for the southeastern states.

While congratulating lawmakers from the southeast, Akpabio enthused that the Commission will bring development, stop agitation, and bring peace to the region.

“This bill is very important. This bill addresses all the fears of our brothers and sisters, and my inlaws in the south-eastern states of Nigeria. I want to say congratulations to you all, and I pray that this commission will bring a lot of development and assist you in stopping any form of agitation and bringing peace to the region.

“I have just been reminded that with the passage of this bill today, the southeast is no longer marginalised. It shows the love this 10th Senate has for the South East. See the expeditious way the concurrence of this bill was handled, and I pray that when we harmonize everything, and it is assented into an Act of parliament, it will address all the fears and challenges of the region. Congratulations to the South East and to all the Senators for the support and contributions to this bill”, Akpabio said.

Meanwhile, there are some other Bills seeking the establishment of development commissions in other geopolitical zones that have made progress in the Senate.

On Wednesday, February 21, the Senate passed, for a second reading, three separate bills for an Act to establish development commissions for the South-East, South-West, and North-Central geopolitical zones.

On Thursday, February 22, a bill seeking the establishment of the South-south Development Commission was read for the first time.

The South-south Development Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2024 was sponsored by Asuquo Ekpenyong, the Senator representing Cross River South.