A bill for the establishment of the South East Development Commission, on Wednesday, scaled second reading in the Senate, one week after a similar bill was thrown out in House of Representatives.
The bill co-sponsored by two South-eastern senators, Stella Oduah, PDP-Anambra, and Samuel Anyanwu, PDP-Imo, was subsequently referred to the committee on establishment and public service matters, which, Senate President Bukola Saraki ruled, should report back in four weeks.
The bill, SB 303, seeks to establish the development commission to “act as catalysts to develop the commercial potential of the Southeast,” according to Mr. Anyanwu in his lead debate.
“It will also help enhance infrastructural development of the region,” he said.
He noted how the region had contributed to Nigeria, “yet, the federal government is not doing enough” for the region.
He said the passage of the bill would engender “greater sense of belonging to the Nigerian project (in the southeast).”
Apart from the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who spoke briefly to urge his colleagues to support the bill, no further deliberation was allowed.
Mr. Saraki called for vote, which resulted in positive outcome for the bill.
After the bill was passed for second reading and referred to committee for further legislative action, Mr. Saraki noted that development and unity of Nigeria “goes beyond just a bill.”
“We have the responsibility to bring down tension, bring unity. In doing this, we are showing we listen to everybody but the issues go beyond this bill. More work needs to be done, there are people we are leading and we have to play our role. We have only one country.” he said.
But while he was on his closing remarks, the Senate erupted in wild jubilation, as senators congratulated the sponsors of the bill.
The bill was first read in the Senate on June 22, 2016, one year ago.
The Reps’ version of the bill failed at third reading, after it had passed second reading, as it happened in the Senate on Wednesday.