On Thursday, February 22, the Senate approved a bill to create the South East Development Commission (SEDC).

The BillBill states that the agency will receive and manage funds from the Federation Account allotted for the restoration and rehabilitation of houses, roads, and other infrastructure damages sustained by the area due to the effects of the civil war.

The Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, chaired the Committee of the Whole, which examined the Bill clause by clause. The Red Chamber made this decision.

Recall that the Bill was unanimously approved for third reading and forwarded to the Senate for concurrence on December 21, 2023, at the House of Representatives Committee of the Whole, which was presided over by Deputy Speaker Rt—Hon—Benjamin Kalu, who is also the Bill’sBill’s sponsor.

The Senate accepted the Bill’s long title as advised, schedules one and the explanatory memorandum as recommended, clauses 2 through 5 as recommended, clause 6 as revised, clauses 7 through 29 as recommended, interpretation clause 30 as instructed, and short title clause 31 as recommended.

“Conceive, plan and implement, in accordance with the set rules and regulations, projects and programs for the sustainable development of the South East States in the field of transportation, including roads, health, education, employment, agriculture, industrialization, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications; cause the South East States to be surveyed in order to ascertain measures which are necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development,” is one of the Commission’s other duties upon its establishment.

“Implement all the measures approved for the development of the South East States by the Federal Government and the member States of the Commission; identify factors inhibiting the development of the South East States and assist the member States in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the South East States; assess and report on any project being funded or carried out in the South East States by mineral extracting and mining companies, oil and gas producing companies, and any other company including non-governmental organisations and ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilized.

Other functions include, “Tackling ecological and environmental problems that arise from the extraction and mining of solid mineral, exploration of oil mineral in the South East States and advise the Federal Government and the member States on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring and environmental pollution; liaise with the various solid mineral extraction and mining companies and oil and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution prevention and control; and execute such other works and perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission are required for the sustainable development of the South East States and its peoples.”

Senate President Akpabio said in his remarks following the Bill’s passage that if it became law, it would bring about development and alleviate the anxieties of the region.

Akpabio said: “It’s a very important bill passed by this 10th Senate, this bill addresses all the fears of our brothers and sisters from the South East.

“I want to say congratulations. I pray this commission will bring a lot of development to the South-east and we will assist you to stop any form of agitation and bring peace to your region. When harmonized, it will address the fears of the south-east.”

A Conference Committee will be established in light of the passage in both Chambers to resolve any disagreements before the bill is delivered to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his approval.

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