South East reps protest ‎rejection of Development Commission Bill

The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill that sought to establish the South-East Development Commission.

‎Rejection of the bill, however, led to a protest from lawmakers from the South-East.

Before the bill was rejected, a motion was earlier moved by the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Bode Ayorinde that the bill ‎should be stepped down.

But the protest from South East lawmakers forced the House to rescind decision to step down the bill, and the motion was taken.

The rejected bill was sponsored by the Minority Whip, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema and 42 others, entitled, “A bill for an Act to establish the South East Development Commission charged with the responsibility, among other things, to receive and manage fund from allocation of the federation account for the development, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructure, as well as tackle the menace of poverty, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the South East states and for other related matters (HB.915)”.

Hon. Chukwuka in his lead debate had said that, the commission when established would formulate policies and guidelines for the development of states in the South-East, conceive and implement economic development plans in accordance with the set rules and regulations, projects and programs for the sustainable development of the South-East states in the areas of transportation including roads, health, education, employment, agriculture, industrialisation, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunication.

On the funding of the commission, the rejected bill proposed 15 per cent of the total monthly statutory allocations due to member states of the commission from the federation.

The financial implication according to him is, “15 per cent of the total monthly statutory allocations due to member states of the commission from the Federation account.

“3 per cent of the total budget of any oil producing company operating onshore and offshore in the South-East states including gas processing companies.

“3 per cent of the total annual budget of any solid mineral extracting mining company operating in the South-East.

“50 percent of monies due to member states of the commission from the ecological fund.

“Such monies as may from time to time be granted or lent to or be deposited with the commission by the Federal Government or states government, any other body or institution whether local or foreign.

“All monies raised for the purpose of the commission by way of gifts, loans grant in aid, testamentary, disposition or otherwise,‎” he stated.

Hon. Uzoma Abonta in his contribution said that the bill was for the development of the South-East states.

The House minority leader, Hon. Leo Ogor said the bill was a step in right direction, stressing that, “This country need to be restructured. We cannot continue the way we are going.”‎

Hon. Sani Abdul, on his part said that the agitation to create the commission was as a result of government’s failure to its citizens, saying that, “We should look at it holistically in order not to have a problem. We are worried; the timing of the bill with the agitation of Biafra is suspicious.”

The bill was rejected through voice vote when it was put to‎ vote by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

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