On Tuesday 12th June, 2017, an Imo Indigenous entrepreneur residence in the United States of America, Sir.Benjamin Chikwe thanked Igbo legislators in the National Assembly for sponsoring and pushing a bill for the establishment of South East Development Commission.
The Mbaitoli born Mr.Chikwe, a technocrat stated that he was elated when the SEDC was finally presented to the National Assembly even though it is 47yrs overdue. That this is the kind of bills we expect from our representatives in Abuja, we should continue to encourage them to live up to their responsibilities to us".
You could recall that, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and Hon.Henry Nwawuba both representing Mr. Chikwe in the Federal legislature, had on June 2017,
sponsored a bill in both chambers of the National Assembly, seeking for the establishment of South East Development Commission,( SEDC). The bill which gained the support of all Igbo legislators who jointly co-sponsored it in both chambers of the National Assembly passed second reading in the Senate, waiting for the third reading and final passage, at the lower house otherwise called green chamber, the bill suffered a setback, in what many Imo legislators in the National Assembly referred to as the power of the gavel and gang of by some region of the country against the Igbos.
Hon. Chike Okafor representing Okigwe South Federal constituency has this to say "The bill had its way by voice vote but the leadership had the power of the gavel hence it was killed and I felt so bad about it. I pray it passes its 3rd reading in the senate and would come to House of Representatives for concurrence. If you read the content of the bill, you see that the bill will not burden the Federation's account. It is meant for the development of South East and would surely address the agitations in the south East".
Reacting on the same bill, member representing Ideato Federal Constituency, Hon Austin Chukwukere averred, "the bill meant well for South East. If we passed the North East bill, what is wrong passing the South East bill which would have facilitated the development of the South East which was battered by the war and since then was left desolate. I want to say emphatically that the bill died in the speaker's hand and I blame him for that. The first voice had it then why the repetition. Honestly, I was very angry because I vividly saw a gang up against a harmless bill which meant to better the lots of a desolate region. I leave this question to all, are we one? "
Contributing to the debate, Hon Jones Onyereri representing the largest Federal Constituency in Nigeria, Nkwerre -Isu-Njaba-Nwangele stated thus, "I was very angry when they killed the bill, I am sure that most of them did not study the bill well because the bill is apt, harmless, and has the intent of laying a road map towards the development of South East. The bill would have assuaged the pains in the South-East. I know that Igbo youths are angry over the demise of that bill but they should be patient and calm because we will resurrect that bill. I assure you we will not relent, that bill must sail".
In his response, member representing Okigwe North Federal Constituency, Hon Obinna Kingsley Onwubuariri stated as follows: "I least expected the killing of that harmless bill that tend to enhance the development of the South East. As an Igbo man, I felt they hit below the belt, if indeed we profess one Nigeria, why going against the rule and why the development of South East should be suppressed while other regions are developing astronomically. By the grace of God, South East will thrive. As of the bill, we will reintroduce it because we have the right to, and I assure you that the bill will sail through".
Adding his voice, member representing Orlu -Orsu-Oru East Federal Constituency, Hon Jerry Alagbaoso have this to say: "I would rather say some of our colleagues from other region are displaying pride and prejudice. I see no reason why they should kill this bill because we consulted widely. Mind you, this is harmless bill that does not burden the Federation's account. I call the speaker a spiritual man, and that is what he is. He is always led by the spirit. However, a spiritual man can some time be led either by good or bad spirit. As a man that handles the gavel, he must have considered the mood of the house and must as well give the bill a second thought before taking his decision".
The chief sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives, Hon Henry Nwawuba representing Mbaike Federal Constituency, have this to say: "As the originator of the South East Development Commission Bill, I was not only surprised but dumbfounded why this bill should be killed. This is very popular and I have been working on it since 2016 and presented it in our caucus meeting, everybody welcomed it and decided that our leader, Hon Chukwuma will present it hence it is the bill that has the voice of all the South East lawmakers and on no ground should it be killed because it burden no body and it is a harmless bill. The killing of the bill still baffles me because the bill was timely and was adequately lobbied for hence would have assuaged the agitations in the south East. Moreso the many agitations in this country is a pointer to the fact that the Federal government has failed the people".
Exonerating the Speaker and disagreeing with the timing and methodology of the bill is member representing Ahiazu Mbaise - Ezinihite Mbaise Federal Constituency, Hon Raphael Igbokwe, he stated as follows: "The bill is very commendable and would help in the development of the South East but I must confess, that it is a good move at a wrong time. For me, the timing is wrong, remember it came shortly after the seat at home order by the IPOB and MASSOP which had strong compliance. We also failed in legislative diligence to the bill, the consultation for such sensitive bill was not enough. I don't blame the speaker. As the man of the gavel, he takes the decision base on the mood of the house. I relieve him of the blame. We need to do due collaboration with our colleagues from other part of the country to achieve what we want".
Meanwhile, the sponsor of the bill which has passed first and second reading in the plenary session of the red chamber (senate) of the National Assembly, Sen Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu said that "SEDC when established would serve as a catalyst for the development of the commercial potentials of the South East. He pointed out that the establishment of the commission will tackle infrastructural deficit in the south east and will as well engage the youths in productive ventures in the region. The senators unanimously voted for the bill to scale through its second reading hence if scaled through 3rd reading, it would be referred to the house of representatives (lower chamber) for concurrence.
Owerri, Imo State Nigeria