A Bill seeking to address Biafra agitation with the establishment of Development Commission for the Southeast geo-political zone suffered a setback on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday.
The sponsors of the Bill failed to present it for second reading.
The general principles of the bill, sponsored by Chukwuka Onyema (PDP, Anambra), Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP, Abia) and Henry Nwawuba (PDP, Imo) was listed for debate Wednesday but had to be stepped down.
When it was time for the bill to be debated and the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara noticed that the lead sponsor Onyema, who is also the Minority Leader was not on the floor, he asked the Chairman, Rules and Business Committee, Emmanuel Oker-Jev to step it down.
At this point, voices were heard around the floor indicating that one of the sponsors, Nkem-Abonta was on ground.
The Speaker then asked Nkem-Abonta to take it.
On his feet, the lawmaker stated that he could not present the bill because it was agreed between them that the Minority Leader will present it and take the lead debate.
The bill was eventually stepped down with the leave of the House.
According to the snippets of the lead debate, the bill that seeks to establish the South East Development Commission would be charged with the responsibility among other things to receive and manage fund from allocation of the Federation Account for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructural damages suffered by the region as a result of the effect of the civil war as well as tackle the ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the South East States.
The objectives of the Bill with the establishment of the South East Development Commission is help to tackle the infrastructure deficit in the South East.
“The creation of SEDC may help to end agitation for Biafra. It will be noted that the lack of Federal Government presence in South East geopolitical zone is the main reason for the current agitation for the creation of Biafra Republic.
“If there is strong federal government presence in the zone, our youth will not see Biafra as an alternative while fortune and fame seekers will not capitalize on that to hoodwink our gullible youths.
“The Bill will bring hope and employment in the South East region.
The synopsis further revealed the background of the bill stating that “The Civil War that ended in 1970 saw lots of destructions of roads, houses and other infrastructures in the South East region.
“Arising from the massive destruction of infrastructures and gruesome bloodletting that arise from the war, the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon proclaimed the three Rs. Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation, which he heralded his policy of “No Victor” No Vanquished”.
“These policies were meant to quickly heal the gaping wounds of the gruesome bloodletting, forget the horrors and evils of the war and quickly reintegrate the South East regions into the society.
“The question one will ask today is: have these South East regions of Nigeria been reconciled, rehabilitated, reconstructed and integrated into the mainstream of Nigeria Society. The answer is NO.
“This bill if passed into law will strategically accelerate the economic emancipation of the marginalized people of the South East who are still suffering from the shackles of the Civil War amongst other forms of deprivation.
“The bill will address the Three Rs, proclaimed of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation abandoned over 40 years after the war, as to give hope to the South East Region”.
Being stepped down, the bill stands the chance of being presented at another legislative day.