Concerned members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday protested against the exclusion of Rivers State from the list of state beneficiaries of projects to be financed by a fresh World Bank loan.
Worried by the development, the House after the debate on the motion on ‘Matter of urgent national importance’, sponsored by Solomon Bob resolved to investigate the allegation.
In his lead debate, Bob who called for the House intervention underscored the need for fairness, equity and social justice.
Bob maintained that the exclusion of Rivers State does not portray true federalism and the distribution of projects across the federation should reflect equity and fairness across all ethnic bonds.
He said: “The House notes that Nigeria is a federation that professes equity, fairness and social justice and to this end, there are several constitutional provisions prohibiting all or any forms of discrimination on the basis of partisan leaning, religion, place of origin or tribe, amongst others.
“The House further notes that section 15(4) & (5) of the constitution provides – The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various peoples of the federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties. The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“The House again notes still that section 16(2) (a) & (c) of the same constitution provides – The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring – the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development. That the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or a group.
“The House observes that the foregoing provisions impose a duty on the federal government to ensure equitable distribution of resources and projects across the federation and among the states in such a manner as to eschew exclusion and ensure fairness in administering the affairs of the government of the federation.
“The House is aware that the federal government recently forwarded a request to the National Assembly for approval of fresh loans from the World Bank and other donor agencies for execution of various projects in all the states of the federation.
“The House is concerned that the federal government as widely reported by ThisDay Newspaper (page 57): The Tribune (page 3) all of September 21, 2021, among several other dailies, to the effect that Rivers State is the only state that is excluded from the list of state beneficiaries of projects to be executed with the loans.
“The House is worried that the reports, if true, render the Federal Government’s action as not only contrary to the spirit and letters of the Constitution but cruelly discriminatory against the people of the Rivers State and such discriminatory treatment is capable of creating a sense of alienation, exclusion and discontent.
“The House is further worried that it is incomprehensible that Rivers State, which contributes enormously to the country’s foreign exchange earnings and through whose huge oil and gas resources a large part of the loan repayment depends, could be inexplicably excluded from benefitting from projects for which the loans are being sought.
“The House is again worried that the alleged exclusion is capable of being interpreted as partisan vindictiveness against the people of the state because of differences of opinion on national issues.
“The House is conscious that the House has a responsibility to ensure that the affairs of the federation are conducted in accordance with the constitution and the law, equity and fairness, and with an overriding responsibility to deploy its constitutional powers to ensure compliance on the part of the Executive,” he urged.
To this end, the House mandates its Committee on Aids, Loans & Debt Management to liaise with the office of the Adviser on National Assembly Matters to the President to ascertain the veracity of the allegation and report back to the House in 14 days for further legislative action.
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