*Nigeria needs proper planning to overcome dev.challenges-Lawan
By Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate on Thursday passed the South East and North Central Development Commission Bills to second reading after massive support by lawmakers present at the plenary.
This was even as the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has cautioned that for the six geo-political zones in the country to surmount developmental and infrastructural challenges, the Federal Government must follow thorough with National Planning to address issues of deficits.
Recall that the South East Development Commission was jointly passed by the two chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives in the eight National Assembly but President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to it.
Consequently, Senator Stella Oduah represented the Bill for first reading Wednesday 13th November, 2019.
However in his lead debate,Oduah explained that the Bill will act as a catalyst for the development of the commercial potentials of the South-East.
She noted that the establishment of the Commission will tackle infrastructural deficit and as well engaged the youth in productive ventures in the region.
According to Oduah, ” The establishment of commission would tackle ecological and environmental problems that arise from the soil
erosion problems and other related environmental challenges in the South-east and advice Federal Government and member states on the prevention and control of the erosion and environmental challenges.
“The enactment of this Bill will help to rebuild the South-east and provide opportunity for the people to display their talent and contribute immensely to the development ot the country.”
Contributing to the Bill, former governor of Abia state,Sen. Theodore Orji (Abia Central ) said that bill is progressive ,it’s developmental etc.
“The civil war devastated the South East and rehabilitation was done half way after the war and abandoned.
“The creation of this commission will provide employment opportunities for the youths and this will help to reduce crimes and criminalities in the area.”
Senator Rochas Okorocha( IMO west)said,”This bill is very important. It should be a reassuring to give the people of the region a sense of belonging.South East a the true Nigerians and peace loving Nigerians. They are found everywhere in the country building bridges.
“They are the most patriotic but yet most marginalised. The Igbos are feeling neglected and rejected. In appointment, they are neglected.
The South East are not excited any more; they are not carried along in the $22.7 billion recently approved.”
According to him, the establishment of the Commission by the Federal Government will address feelings of marginalization and neglect by the South East.
“The Igbos are beginning to feel dejected, rejected and neglected in a country that they belong to. The South East are not excited anymore,” the lawmaker said.
Sen.Kabiru Gaya(Kano South)noted that the essence of coming up with a commission is to provoke development, adding “It will help to encourage employment of youths.
“Ecological fund by the federal government is not enough to tackle erosion in South East. The Senate must ensure that the commission is properly funded. The budget must be reviewed to accommodate the needs of the commission.”
Sen.Obinna Ogba( Ebonyi )explained that the South Easterners are very hardworking people, and that the passage of the commission will encourage them to work harder. “Mr. President should assent to the bill when passed,” he urged.
Sen.Michael Nnachi:( Ebonyi South)said he support the bill not just as an Igbo man but as a Nigerian. “If we have this commission, we can bring in China but living Coronavirus for them.”
Sen.Barau Jibrin( Kano North)said,”I supported the bill in its entirety in the Eight Senate and I still support it. It will help even development to take place across the country. It is good to look at the peculiarities of each zone and see how to help them to develop. It will help to make Nigeria a better place.”
Similarly, sponsor of the North Central Development Commission Bill, Senator Abba Moro, said statistics from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency showed that in 2012, flooding forced two million Nigerians from their homes and 363 died in Plateau, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states.
According to the lawmaker, “In 2016, 92,000 people were displaced and 38 died from incidents of flood in Benue, Kogi, Niger and Nasarawa states, and other parts of Nigeria.
“In 2017, flood affected 250,000 people on Benue, Kogi, Niger and Plateau states, and other parts of Nigeria,” Moro lamented.
He added that herder/farmer clashes in North Central Nigeria, especially in Benue State, have left infrastructure such as churches, hospitals, schools, houses, recreational centres destroyed and pierced by bullets.
The bills seeking to establish the South East Development Commission; and the North Central Development Commission, after consideration were both referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee in Establishment and Public Service Matters for further legislative work.
The Committee which is Chaired by Senator Ibrahim Shekarau (APC – Kano Central), is expected to report back to the upper chamber in 4 weeks.
In his remark on both bills, the Senate President said, “Let me say that what we have all agreed is each geo-political zone should have a Development Commission, but in my view, what Nigeria needs most is proper planning.
“Because all these channels like one of our colleagues stated, is not based on Commission, but National Planning that is followed through.
“Lagos State is setting the pace in many aspects as a state compared to most of our states. They have been able to, through a well grounded blueprint, progress faster I think, than most of the states.
“I think we need to emphasize our National Planning more, because this is the only way we can address all development challenges in different parts of the country.”