Reps consider development commissions for South-West, others


The House of Representatives is about to establish development commissions for no fewer than three geopolitical zones.

They include the South-West, South-South and the South-East.

The House is making the consideration as the Senate is also processing similar bills.

This is coming as the Niger Delta Development Commission and the North East Development Commission are already in existence.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, and 80 other lawmakers suspected to be members from Yoruba-speaking states, introduced a bill seeking to establish a South-West Development Commission.

The South West Development Commission (Establishment) Bill 2019 passed the first reading at the plenary on December 11, 2019.

The South-West geopolitical zone has six states, namely Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti.

Later on December 17, 2019, the lawmaker representing Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency of Imo State, Mr Henry Nwawuba, introduced the South East Development Commission (Establishment) Bill 2019, which passed the first reading.

The South-East zone has five states, namely Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi.

In the South-South, there are six states, namely Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo and Bayelsa.

On December 20, 2019, the South South Development Commission (Establishment) Bill 2019 emerged in the House. It was sponsored by the lawmaker representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of River State, Mr Awaji-Inombek Abiante.

The SSDC would be established despite the existence of the NDDC.

Though the NDDC covers all the states in the South-South, states in other geopolitical zones are under it, namely Ondo (South-West), Abia and Imo (both in the South-East).

Meanwhile, another member, Mr Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, earlier on December 18, 2019, added to the drama by introducing the Zonal Development Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2019 which the House has also admitted.

Meanwhile, at the Senate, former governor of Ogun State and lawmaker representing Ogun Central Senatorial District, Ibikunle Amosun, had earlier on November 14, 2019, introduced a bill to establish the SWDC.

After Amosun, Senator Sani Musa had introduced the North Central Development Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2019. The North-Central is made up of Kwara, Benue, Niger, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

Senator Jibrin Barau had on November 26 reintroduced a bill seeking to establish the North West Development Commission.

The 8th National Assembly had yet to pass the bill before it wound down.

In the North-West, there are Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto states.

Another bill seeking to establish the South East Development Commission has been introduced in the Senate.

A member of the House, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said sponsors of the bills would have to convince lawmakers on the necessity of the establishments for the bills to pass.

The lawmaker said, “In the case of the North East Development Commission, we know how Boko Haram insurgency crippled the geopolitical zone, especially Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states which are mostly affected.

“I also agree that the South-East has been seriously marginalised in the scheme of things in this country, even under democracy since 1999.

That place should have been Nigeria’s industrial hub but look at the situation there now.

“We will also have to defend the proposal to establish a development commission for our zone too.”

At the House under the 8th National Assembly, the South-East Development Commission had passed the second reading. A bill to establish the North Central Development Commission was introduced shortly after the 9th Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019.

The Senate had on October 5, 2016, rejected a bill seeking special grants for Lagos in recognition of the state as the economic capital for the country.

The debate on a bill, sponsored by the lawmaker representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, Oluremi Tinubu, in the 8th Assembly was turned down after the plenary turned into a rowdy session.

Tinubu had pushed for a special status for Lagos, calling for retention of one per cent of Valued Added Tax generated from the state for its development.

The bill had, however, divided senators along regional lines – North and South – during its second reading.

When the Senate passed the NEDC establishment bill, senators from Lagos had protested, stating that it was wrong to approve 3 per cent VAT for the North-East after rejecting 1 per cent for Lagos which contributed about 70 per cent of the country’s total VAT revenue.

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