From Umar Muhammad Puma
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has urged South-east and south-south professional groups to streamline their regional interests to conform with the on-goingeffort of the House of Representatives to review the 1999 Constitution.
Ihedioha made the call yesterday when the professional groups from the two regions met with South-east and south-south legislators’ caucuses, noting that despite their interest in the national conference, they need to avail themselves with the constitutional roles of the legislature.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Ihedioha told them make their inputs to the ad-hoc committee of the House set up for the purpose of collating information on the bill.
He applauded the group’s move to develop their regions, and challenged them to work closely with the legislature and keep in mind that the numerical strength of the south-east/south-south lawmakers does not give them the leverage to approach issues unilaterally.
“We are 98 members from the region. That is less than two-third of the majority. We have to lobby other members to get our agenda through,” he said.
In his contribution, Rep Fort Dike (PDP, Anambra), noted that efforts to develop the southern regions, are currently lacking. “Your initiative will make region to know that it is their interest to become an integrated economic region,” Dike added, saying so many things bind the people of the regions together that they have not taken advantage of in the past.
Also, Friday Itula (PDP, Edo) remonstrated that “gone are the days when development is left to government alone. “As a people in these two regions, the other parts of the country look up to us to set an agenda for them,” he said, recalling the lessons of the Biafran war that made people of the area to become inventors “as a result of necessity.”
Rep Ogbuehi Ozomgbachi (PDP, Enugu), wished that the legislators have a forum similar to that of the professionals. According to him, their agenda of regional integration is coming at a time when governments across the globe are becoming less involved in such enterprise. He pledged that they will support the group.
Speaking earlier, president of the South-east/South-south Professionals, Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Oju, informed the deputy speaker and other members of the House from the South-east and South-south geo-political zones who had gathered in their numbers, that the delegation was in the House to confer with lawmakers on a vision to improve the economic ties and benefits of the two zones of the country.
He said their vision is to accomplish their goal within 20 years. To this end, the group, Ugorji said, is planning strategic sessions to be held this weekend in Enugu. A similar session is also slated for Asabaat the beginning of next month.
Giving details of their plans, Uzoma Eze, the Deputy Secretary-General of the professionals said their targets span the development of education, health, environment standards, agriculture, security, oil andgas; and others, within the stipulated period.
Listing their strategic priorities as preparation for integrated regional development, influencing processes and individuals and identifying towards identifying targeted projects as well as inclusion
of all stakeholders in their pursuits, Eze said the group collectively support the forthcoming national conference.