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SE Version of Niger Delta Commission?

A bill sponsoring the creation of what appears to be a sister commission of the NDDC  has passed its third reading in the House of Representatives on Thursday, 21st December 2023.

The SouthEast Development Commission Bill, as it is called, seeks the establishment of a commission that would be dedicated to the development of the South East, just like the NDDC.

The Niger Delta Commission is a federal government agency established by former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000. It was created to develop the oil-rich Niger Delta region, which is the South-South states (Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers)  and also Abia, Imo, and Ondo states. The idea behind it is that the commission will ensure that these states from which the crude oil that forms the majority of Nigeria’s export through which forex is gotten are not neglected.

During the House sitting on Thursday, a unanimous decision was taken by the Committee of the Whole chaired by Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, upon consideration of the report on the bill.

The memorandum to explain the bill stated that the commission would be charged with the responsibility of receiving and managing allocated funds from the federation account for the construction of infrastructure. The commission is also meant to confront the ecological and environmental problems and developmental challenges in the region.

Its member states will be Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo (some of which are already captured in the mandate of the NDDC).

Now that the bill has passed the third reading at the lower house,  it will be taken to the Senate for the sake of concurrence, after which it will go to the President for his assent to be signed into law.

The bill came on the heels of the federal government’s intention to start exploring the natural gas reserve in the region. The establishment of the commission is potentially a welcome development for the region. However, its benefits will only be felt if it manages to escape the corruption that has trailed the NDDC and robbed the Niger Delta people of the promised development.

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