BREAKING: Our Take on Akpabio’s ₦30 Billion FG Intervention To Governors

On Thursday, February 22nd, 2024, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria passed a bill seeking to establish the Southeast Development Commission (SEDC). This is after the House of Representatives passed the bill last December.>>>READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

If the president eventually assents to the bill, it will bring to three the total number of regional intervention commissions in Nigeria: the Niger – Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) and, SEDC. Only three regions would have been left with no intervention commission.

Agitation for the creation of the SEDC has been around for many years. But for erstwhile president Muhammadu Buhari withholding assent, the bill would long have been law following its passage by the 8th Assembly. When assented by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Bill will have the mandate to manage infrastructural development such as roads, homes, and other critical infrastructure needed to set the Southeast on course to sustained development thereby rewinding effects from the deadly civil war and other anti-development activities that had slowed the progress of the region. SEDC will also handle ecological issues and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the region.

Also last week, the bill for the creation of the Southwest Development Commission (SWDC) scaled second reading at hallowed chambers of the Nigerian Senate. The bill sponsored by former Governor of Ogun state, Gbenga Daniel is expected to manage funds allocated by the federal government for capital projects in the Southwest region.

“This Bill essentially aims to establish a Commission for the South West region that will be charged with the responsibility amongst others, to receive and manage funds allocated by the Federal Government for the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructural damages suffered by the region and the need to tackle the ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the South-west states and for related matters”.

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After the reading, the Senate referred the bill to the committee on special duties with Senate President Godswill Akpabio, subsequently directing the committee to report back to the Senate within four weeks.

Also last week, the Bill for an Act to Establish the North Central Development Commission as a catalyst to develop the arrays of potentials of the North Central as well as address the gap in infrastructural development of the region and for related matters, 2024 scaled second reading. It was sponsored by Senators Sani Musa, APC, Niger East and Abba Moro, PDP, Benue South. This bill was first brought to the Senate in 2019 by Senator Sani Musa who is co-sponsoring its latest instalment.

The Bill for the establishment of the Northwest Development Commission (NWDC) has also scaled second reading in the Nigerian senate. Sponsored by Jibrin Barau, Deputy Senate President, the bill states that “the commission when established would accelerate the development of the commercial and industrial potentials of the Northwest geopolitical zone, comprising seven states: Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Katsina, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara.

In 2019, when the NCDC bill was first brought to the Senate immediately following the inauguration of the Northeast Development Commission, the fear then was that, passing that bill as well as the Southeast Development Bill will encourage the sponsorship of regional intervention Bills from all the regions in Nigeria. That’s exactly what is playing out today. The implications of this agitations and the subsequent proliferation of regional interventions are many. However, the most egregious implication is that these increased calls are an indictment on the federal government’s handling of what ought to be Nigeria’s shared prosperity especially with items on the exclusive list. But that’s not all, these calls are reminiscent of the comments by an arewa stalwart who opined that “agitations for state creation will not abate until his own village becomes a state”.

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It will appear that the failure to convince Nigerians that more states are needed is being repackaged and presented in the form of regional intervention commissions. You need only to look at the almost identical proposed mandates of these so-called regional intervention bodies to discover the folly. Worst still is the fact that there is no evidence that unbundling federal interventions and domiciling these responsibilities on regional interventionist agencies will make a difference. One needs only look at the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to give up. In its over 20 years of existence, the NDDC has contributed more pungent corruption cases than any meaningful development to the people its region of focus. The NDDC therefore typifies a proper cash cow for milking lucre, rightfully earning the title of a cesspool of corruption.

Whereas we can acknowledge that preliminary assessment of the activities of NEDC, the second operational regional interventionist body has been somewhat positive, we can all agree that its too early in the day to start giving anyone a pat in the back. The truth is, if the basis for floating both NDDC and NEDC are to back-roll the negative effect of ecological, economic, war and terrorism on the people and ecology of their regions of focus, then every region in Nigeria has an equal claim. Whereas the NDDC has rested their agitations on environmental degradation, NEDC has put forward Boko Haram insurgency and SEDC has unrolled the years to revisit effects of the civil war as well as the activities of IPOB/ESN on the region as basis for their claims. NCDC as well as NWDC have anchored their agitations on the activities of bandits and dangerous farmer – herder clashes that have almost halted farming as well as mineral exploration activities. The SWDC may also be banking on these and other reasons to push forward their regional interventionism pleas.

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Although, all the six regions have valid claims for seeking regional interventions, it must be said that these renewed pleas may have nothing to do with the actual development of the regions. This may be a ploy to get more from the federal government to bankroll the posh lifestyles of Nigeria’s big men. Like with the agitation for state creation, the agitations for regional commissions may just be an avenue for decentralizing the national cake and on the basis of this fear, we must take a critical look at the merits and demerits of granting these prayers. After all is said and done, these renewed cries must be attributed to Muhammadu Buhari’s gracious establishment of NEDC. Although, done with the best of intentions, todays rash of bills for the creation of regional commissions is the unintended consequence of that 2019 inauguration of NEDC by president Buhari. And it doesn’t matter now whether NEDC has been delivering on its mandate or not.>>>READ FULL ARTICLE HERE