North East Development Commission Bill suffers set back

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Bill seeking to establish the North East Development Commission (NEDC) suffered a major setback on the floor of the Nigerian Senate, as senators from the zone disagreed over the location of its corporate headquarters.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Special Duties, Senator Abdulazeez Nyako, presented the committee’s report on the Bill which is in its final stage of legislation but the Bill could not be passed because of two outstanding clauses.

One of the clauses that hindered passage of the Bill centred on the location of the corporate headquarters of the proposed commission, while the other clause focuses on the sources of funding.

The Senate was split into two groups during the debate, with the pro-Maiduguri group routing for the location of the commission in the Borno state capital while Senator from the other group believe that Gombe would be more suitable for the corporate headquarters of the commission.

Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume representing Borno South, who led the pro-Maiduguri advocates, expressed disappointment that the issue of location was allowed to delay the passage of the Bill.

“I’m not happy that we are here talking about where to locate the corporate head office of the NEDC when we should have been arguing about more important things that can facilitate the rehabilitation of the zone. Does it matter where the headquarters is located?” he quizzed.

However, leading the group of pro-Gombe advocates, Senator Usman Nafada representing Gombe North argued that “the centrality of Gombe state among all the states in the zone , makes it very suitable for the headquarters because it would be easier and closer to access by the people than Maiduguri which is a longer distance from the constituting states.”

In his ruling, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, mandated a six man committee made up of lawmakers from the six geopolitical zones, to brainstorm on how best to reconcile the contending issues of funding sources and the location, so as to ensure the smooth passage of the Bill.

National Assembly Correspondent, reports that the committee which is expected to report back in one week is comprised of senators Sam Egwu (south-east), Emmanuel Paulker (south-south), Abdulazeez Nyako (north-east), Aliu Wamako (north- west), Dino Melaye (north-central) and Tayo Alaosadura (south-west).