By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives yesterday passed to second reading a bill to establish South South Development Commission, SSDC, for the total development of the region.
The Commission when established will be independent of the existing Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC compromising all the States in the south south region and three others from south east and south west zones of the country.
It will be recalled that the House a week ago also committee to second reading a bill to establish a development commission for the south west region.
There is also in existence a North East Development Commission, NEDC.
The bill for the SSDC is being sponsored by Hon. Awaji Inombek Abiante from Rivers.
It is titled “A Bill for an Act to Establish the South South Development Commission charged with the Responsibility to Receive and Manage Funds from the Federation Accounts Allocation and other Sources, Donations, Grants, Aids for the Integration, Development, Resolution of Infrastructural Deficit, Militancy, Communal Crisis as well as tackle Ecological and Environmental Problems; and for Related Matters”.
The House also passed onto second reading a bill to establish a University of Technology in Asaba, Delta State sponsored by the minority leader of the House, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu from Delta State.
In his lead debate, Abiante recalled that creation of 6 geopolitical zones by the regime of late General Sank Abacha, saying that it was for the development of the regions.
He said that the rationale behind the bill was essentially to develop the region.
He said: “In 1993, the regime of Late General Sani Abacha created six (6) geopolitical zones with the aim amongst others of enhancing equal distribution of the Nation’s economic, political and educational resources. Late General Sani Abacha deserves commendation for this well-thought idea that was tailored towards bringing development to every part of the Country especially given the peculiarity and diverse nature of the Country with greater affinity in the regional structure thereby having very workable solutions.
The six geopolitical zones created by the Late General Sani Abacha include the South East, South West, South South, North Central, North East, and North West.
“As at today, the North East Development Commission is in place and functioning, bill for the establishment of the South West Development Commission has scaled second reading, while the bills for the establishment of other Zonal Development Commissions are also in the works at various stages.
“The question that may be bothering the minds of some of my colleagues at this point may be ‘Why the need to establish a South-South Development Commission, when there is a Niger Delta Development Commission in place’?
The answer is not far-fetched. It is instructive to point out that the Niger Delta Development Commission created by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000 merely replaced the OMPADEC (Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission). It was for the development of oil producing areas or better still communities, which include areas and communities from States in the South East (Abia & Imo) and South West (Ondo) and most recently Lagos (Where oil was discovered in 2016).
“It is expected that membership of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will expand as oil exploration and commercial finds continues in the Country. Presently, States like Lagos (South West) and Anambra (South East) are agitating and rightly too to be included in the Commission on the claims of having become oil producing.
“There is recently reported find of oil in the North East and when eventual commercial production commences, they are also expected to lay claim to the membership of the NDDC (North East).
Also, the boundary contention between Kogi (North Central), Anambra and Enugu (South East) when resolved may make one more of the States or even all to be a member(s) of the NDDC due to availability of oil in the disputed area.
“Based on the above, it is expedient to conclude that the existing Niger Delta Development Commission was not created for the South-South States, but for all the oil producing States, irrespective of the Region.
“Mr. Speaker, my Distinguish Honourable Colleagues, in view of the foregoing and the need for rapid and equitable development of all the Regions in the Country, there is a need for the establishment of the South-South Development Commission to ensure the development of the South-South Region.”
The lawmaker further stated that the financial cost implications of establishing Commission may not necessarily add up financial burden on the Federal Government, stressing that the Bill when passed will go a long way in ensuring speedy rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure in the South-South region and enhance the quality of life in the area in particular and Nigeria in general.”
Similarly, the House passed to second reading a bill to establish a university of technology in Asaba.
The Bill is titled “A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of Federal University of Technology, Asaba, Delta State for the Promotion and Development of Technical Education in Nigeria and to make Comprehensive Provision for its Due Management and Administration; and for Related Matters”.
The sponsor, Hon. Elumelu said that the university when established will further take care of the technological needs of the country.