By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
There was an uproar on the floor of the Senate yesterday during debate on a bill seeking for establishment of South West Development Commission.
The bill sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC Ogun Central) and 17 other Senators from the entire six states in the South West across party lines, ran into trouble waters when some Senators outside the zone, kicked against it.
General debate on the bill from the lead submissions made by Senator Amosun on the need for the Commission as catalyst for development of South West zone, earlier went smoothly with support from three other Senators who spoke after him but Senator Adamu Muhamnad Bulkachuwa (APC Bauchi North), changed the trend of the debate by kicking against it.
Bulkachuwa in his contribution said the Development Commission which the bill is seeking for was not needed by South West since the zone was not at anytime ravaged by national calamities or disasters of long durations as experienced in the Niger Delta and North East regions which necessitated the Development Commissions set up there at different times.
According to him, passing the bill by the Senate will amount to tacit support for the zone in its alleged wrong moves in recent time from Amotekun to South West Development Commission.
“We need to be very careful as Senators of the federal republic of Nigeria on legislative proposals to be entertained and considered.
“One of such legislative proposals that shouldn’t be entertained at all, is the South West Development Commission Bill brought before us today.
“The bill to me is uncalled for because South West is not in anyway in situations warranting emergency development – driven interventions from the federal government, as was the case with the Niger Delta as regards environmental degradation and oil spillage which warranted a development commission in the mode of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) eventually created by Act of Parliament in year 2000.
“Similar emergency situation gave birth to the North East Development Commission (NEDC ), after years of Boko Haram insurgency which wreaked devastating havoc in the area.
“The aforementioned destructive incidences did not happen in the South West , making the bill spurious.
“Infact if the truth must be told, South West is the most developed part of the country requiring no urgent intervention the bill is seeking for”, he said.
Making similar submission, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North), warned against balkanisation of Nigeria with proliferation of Zonal Development Commissions.
According to him, rather than helped the country in its Unity drive, such zonal commissions, will breed divisions.
“As a Senate, we need to be careful from being drawn into sectionalism which bills like this are indirectly driven at.
“Two of such bills namely , South East Development Commission and North West Development Commission , were considered and passed in the 8th Senate but very patriotically , President Muhamnadu Buhari refused them assent.
“Let us toe the line of the President by rejecting these bills”, he said.
The debate got heated up when Senator Surujudeen Bashir Ajibola (APC Osun Central), in his contribution slammed Senator Bulkachuwa for describing Amotekun and the South West Development Commission Bill as sectional.
Ajibola was however cautioned by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan to make his own contribution for or against the bill and not attack any Senator.
“Nobody raise the issue of ethnicity in their contributions and the Senate will not want such to be made”, he said.
The bill however scaled second reading when put to voice votes by the Senate President who later refered it to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters for more legislative inputs and report back within four weeks.
Aside Amosun, other Senators like Adamu Aleiro, James Manager, Emmanuel Bwacha, Bamidele Opeyemi, Jibrin Barau etc, supported the bill but with call on other Geo- political zones to come up with similar bills.