The Senate has passed the South East Development Commission (Establishment) Bill 2018. The proposed body is to tackle the infrastructure deficit and ecological challenges besetting the region. It also seeks to act as a catalyst for the development of the commercial potential of the zone.
The piece of legislation requires the concurrence of the House of Representatives for onward transmission to the president for his assent. Senators Stella Oduah (PDP-Anambra) and Samuel Anyanwu (PDP-Imo) jointly sponsored the bill on June 22, 2016. Its passage in the red chamber followed the presentation of the report of the Committee on Establishment and Public Service by its former chairman, Emmanuel Paulker (PDP-Bayelsa).
The bill was subsequently considered clause by clause by the committee of whole where amendments were made before its eventual passage. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over yesterday’s plenary, commended his colleagues for their efforts.
“Every morning, we pray that God should give us the grace to do only those things that will promote the peace and unity of this country. “I believe that we have shown today (yesterday) that we are committed to the unity of this country, and it is this unity that will give us faith in this country,” he said.
Briefing newsmen after the session, members the South East caucus in the upper chamber of the federal legislature, led by Enhinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia), thanked their colleagues for their patriotism. Abaribe urged the president to sign the bill into law “as soon as we tidy it up and bring to him in the interest of the unity and progress of Nigeria.”
He added: “This will put to rest the long-drawn agitation in the South East and the difficulties in the rehabilitation and reconciliation efforts that started at the end of the civil war.
“All things we see always will end up at the negotiating table, which is what we have done.” The lawmaker said he expected the House of Representatives to cooperate. When established, the commission would be the third zonal interventionist body in the country.