South East Development Commission: The Elixir for the Transformation of the Region….by Sam Hart mni

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SOUTH EAST DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: THE ELIXIR FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE REGION

Sam Hart

There was a palpable air of elation and expectation when news broke that the Senate had passed the South East Development Commission Bill. A few weeks prior, the House of Representatives had equally passed the same bill and transmitted same to the Senate.

The seamless movement of the Bill through both Chambers of the National Assembly was proof that adequate work had been done behind the scenes to set the stage for the advancement of the Bill.

It is common knowledge that the Bill had been introduced in preceding National Assemblies but suffered stillbirths due to a multiplicity of factors that do not bear rehashing.

Thankfully, this time around, the Bill is being championed by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu Benjamin Kalu. Apart from his exalted position which gives him leverage to push legislative preferences, it is also a testament to his diplomatic credentials that he was able to galvanize his colleagues in both Chambers of the National Assembly to get the Bill to the point where it is now.

The Bill is currently at harmonization stage between the two Chambers of the National Assembly to align any areas of divergence in what both Chambers passed after which it will be forwarded to the President for his signature.

Feelers from the political class indicate that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is minded to sign the Bill into Law once it is ratified by both Chambers of the National Assembly and transmitted to him.

There is no denying the fact that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has run an inclusive government which has given every section of the country a sense of belonging. It is also evident that the President is very much interested in the development of the South East – and indeed, every region of the country and he will throw his weight behind every genuine effort to foster socio-economic development that benefits the nation.

It is instructive to point out that when the South East Development Commission Bill is signed into Law, it would be the single most important gesture by the Federal Government towards the total reconciliation, rehabilitation and reintegration of the South East in the architecture of the Nigerian State since after the Civil War.

The Commission, when it comes on stream, will also possess the capacity to galvanize integrated efforts towards the massive development of the region.

There is no denying the enormous opportunities that exist for the development of the South East Geopolitical Zone. There is also no denying the existence of a myriad of challenges which have been exacerbated by decades of perceived and actual neglect by diverse stakeholders.

The signing of the South East Development Commission Bill into Law and the setting up of the South East Development Commission and its attendant structures, will signal an embrace to the South East region from the Centre and help thaw some of the underlying factors that have fanned the embers of discontent and unrest in the region.

The installed – yet untapped – developmental opportunities in the South East region and their anticipated harnessing will be to the ultimate benefit of the Nigerian State as the South East possesses undeniable human and material capacity for rapid development.

Necessity now behooves all people of goodwill from the South East geopolitical zone of the country to rally around this admirable push to promote the equitable development of the region. Let us therefore eschew tendencies that divide us and embrace this new vision towards the overall benefit of the people.

Great credit must be paid to the current political leadership of the South East Zone for this new and positivity wind of cooperation and collaboration among them. It is to their credit that they have sang from the same hymn book in making demands for the region and pushing conversations that benefit the region.

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has shown adroitness and admirable political sagacity in galvanizing his colleagues towards getting the best for the region.

Hon. Kalu had earlier, alongside his colleagues from the South East Geopolitical Zone, promoted the Peace in the South East Project (PISE-P) which is an advocacy for non-kinetic de-escalation of the spate of insecurity in the South East. It is always gratifying to see Members of the House of Representatives, across party lines, come together behind the same cause.

The same unity and cohesion has also permeated the Senate, Ministers and Heads of Departments and Agencies from the South East Region. Kudos must go to all elected and appointed political office holders from the South East in the President Tinubu administration for eschewing rancour and division to speak the same language literally and figuratively.

As the National Assembly resumes from it’s breaks on April 23, 2024, it is expected that at the top of its agenda would be the harmonization of the South East Development Commission Bill and transmitting same to the President for his anticipated assent.

We thank everyone who has played one role or the other in bringing this development to its current state. We thank Members of the National Assembly from other zones of the country for their camaraderie and solidarity in supporting the passage of the Bill.

Finally, we thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the new vista of inclusiveness and development currently being experiences in the South East region and we wish him a very successful tenure.

Sam Ifeanyi Hart, mni, a Leadership Strategist, writes from Abuja and can be reached on [email protected]

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