OrderPaperToday – The Senate on Wednesday passed the South East Development Commission (SEDC) bill.

The 30 clause bill was sponsored by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo), read for the first time on the 22nd June, 2016 then referred to the committee on Establishment and Public Service.

Similar bill of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) was passed by the senate on the 20th of October 2016 and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 25th of October 2017.

Presenting the report on the bill, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP Bayelsa) stated that the commission will be saddled with the responsibility of managing and administering funds received from the federation account for the purpose of harnessing the commercial potential as well as the overall development of the the South-east zone of the country.

He expressed belief that the passage of the bill will “no doubt lay to rest the incessant clamour and agitations from various quarters of complaints on marginalisation and decay of the zone and ensure the unity and warmness of this country.”

While considering the report in the committee of the whole, one of the contentious clauses is in the regard to the expiration of the commission.

Clause 1 (4) states that “The President may subject to the approval of the National Assembly to wind up the commission after the completion of its mandate.”

Senator Omotayo Alasoadura (APC, Ondo) opposed the provision noting that there should be a time limit just like the North-East Development Commission for a period of 10 years.

Senator Samuel Egwu argued that the North East commission and South East are completely different.

He said: “The circumstances of the establishment of the North East commission was a result of the calamity. South East have started having their own before and after the war and now in the North East because of international intervention, a lot of funds in billions of dollars have come into that project.”

It was approved that the President may subject to the approval of the National Assembly to wind up the commission after 10 years of its mandate.

Another controversial part is clause 2 on the composition of the Commission’s Governing board which will spread among member states of the South-east zone.

Senator Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) rather proposed that the board consist of people from the different geo- political zones just as NEDC.

His submission was approved such that the commission’s board will include one person from other geo-political zones.

The commission will be paid from 1% of the ecological fund.

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