By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Chrustiana Ekpa
The Senate has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his expedient assent to the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Bill recently passed by the National Assembly, even as the lawmakers requested the executive to make adequate provision for the commission in the 2018 budget.
The commendation followed a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan yesterday during plenary on the assent of the NEDC Bill.
The Senate described the commission as a direct response by this administration to address the widespread devastation inflicted on the zone by the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents which has been around for past 8 years.
Senator Lawan observed that while the commission will provide an institutional framework that will ensure transparency, accountability and prudent management of funds that will build the confidence of Donor Agencies and Foundations towards assisting and funding projects of the commission, he stressed that the commission will end the huge humanitarian crisis in the North East that no other committee or institution could have within the short and long term.
The Bill for the establishment of the commission received President Buhari’s assent on Thursday, 26th October 2017.
The Commission will among other things receive and manage funds allocated by the Federal Government and International donor agencies for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency as well as tackling the menace of poverty and environmental challenges of the area.
It is also expected to coordinate projects and programmes within the master plan for the rehabilitation, resettlement , reconciliation, reconstruction and sustainable development of the North East Zone in the fields of infrastructure, human and social services, including health and nutrition, education and water supply, agriculture, wealth creation and employment opportunities, urban development and poverty alleviation etc.
Senators in their contributions during debate on the motion including Shehu Sani and James Manager however advised that the commission focus on the basic essence of the billon which is primarily to address the issue of poverty and the degrading lifestyle in zone.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu in his summation described the Bill as a major contribution to the development of the North East just as thanked the military for providing the enabling environment for the take off of the commission.
Ekweremadu noted that the action of the senate in ensuring the swift passage of the Bill indicates that it is a united senate mindful of the concerns of Nigerians.
Meanwhile, briefing journalists after the debate, the Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, commended the senators for their efforts, adding that everything was upside down in the north east but with the bill singed into law, has enabled the government both federal and state, including the international donor agencies to marshal their resources to rebuild the north east devastation.
He also said that the Bill will help to get the best hands and people with integrity and passion to manage the affairs of developing the area. He also charged the executive to seek out the human resources to handle the project of developing the area to avoid the mistakes of the NDDC.
He pointed that the Nigerians outside the region have a stake which is to ensure proper utilization of the public funds deployed there. Speaking further, the senate leader urged the state governments in the affected region to corporate with the federal government to ensure that the objective of bringing succor to the suffering persons in the area is achieved.
Lawan also said the setting up of commission usually follow a historical antecedents to develop a region that has specific challenges, as experienced in the Niger Delta region. He said if there is need to have a south east development commission, mothers senators have no issue with it, arguing that Nigeria is intertwined because whatever affects one region affects others.