Passage of South-East Development Commission Bill ‘justice for Igbos’ – Oduah

Stella Oduah

A senator, Stella Oduah, says Wednesday passage of the South-East Development Commission Bill by the Senate is justice for Igbo people.

Ms Oduah, who is one of the sponsors of the bill, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday that the bill’s passage was a step forward in meeting the yearnings and aspirations of South-East people.

The Bill was passed three years after it was introduced in the Senate. It passed first reading on June 22, 2016, and second reading on June 7, 2017.

It was sponsored by Ms Oduah (PDP, Anambra North) and Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East).

Ms Oduah explained that the bill was a response to the injustice and marginalisation the people were complaining of over the years.

According to her, when assented to, the bill will help to tackle to a large extent, the agitations by proponents of Biafra.

“I feel very happy and I think everybody from across the River Niger will be very happy.

“What the passage of this bill means for us is not that we are happy because we are from that part of the country.

“It is because justice is being done and then the disparity that is so clear is being addressed by the passage.

“With the passage, we will have a semblance of holistic development coming from all parts of Nigeria and the enabling environment will be there for the South-East people.

“This bill is about righting the wrong and closing the gap that disparity has so created for a region that has a huge deficiency in infrastructure.

“Having to grow the region has been almost impossible. So, I am very happy.

“This to a large extent will bridge the gap of disparity and marginalisation that has led to agitations in the region,” he said.

Ms Oduah, who is Chairman, Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration, allayed fears that the House of Representatives was not in support of the bill.

She said “the House of Representatives has up to this moment concurred.

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“So, for me the bill will not have the problem of passage in the House of Representatives.

“And the fear that the commission might be riddled with corruption is not an issue because the bill is clear on who should man it.

“The bill is also clear on the sources of revenue and what the revenue will be used for and the public could speak out if anything contrary to that is done.”

The lawmaker further said that the 10-year period for the existence of the commission was not sacrosanct.

She noted that the bill provided that it was subject to approval for extension by the President at the expiration of 10 years if the need be.

She commended her colleagues for deeming it fit to pass the bill.

Ms Oduah urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill when transmitted to him, adding that it would go down in history that he signed a law that brought succour to the people.

NAN reports that the proposed commission aims at enhancing the infrastructural development of the South-East, which is grappling with huge ecological challenges.

The bill for the commission seeks to act as a catalyst for the development of the commercial potential of the zone.

The proposed legislation requires the concurrence of the House of Representatives to become a bill of the National Assembly.



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