Funding, Location Stall Passage of North-east Commission Bill

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Senator protests non-inclusion of Bayelsa indigene on ambassadorial list
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The source of funding as well as the location of the proposed North-east Development Commission yesterday stalled the passage of the North-east Development Commission Bill meant to provide the framework for the rehabilitation of the North-east region which has been devastated by Boko Haram activities.

While considering the third reading of the bill yesterday, there was a sharp disagreement among North-east senators over the place to site the headquarters of the commission.

The controversy began when Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi South) suggested the need to site the commission in Bauchi as he opposed the committee’s recommendation that it should be sited in Abuja, noting thatAbuja is several kilometres away from the region.

His submission prompted another suggestion that the commission should rather be sited in Maiduguri, while others insisted that it should be located in Gombe.

But Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South in the North-east frowned at the disagreement among his kinsmen over the location of the commission’s headquarters, saying it was untidy to bring such a matter to the floor when they ought to have resolved it at the caucus level.

However, Usman Nafada (Gombe North), vehemently argued that the location of the commission should be in Gombe.
According to him, Gombe is the centre of the North-east region and hence, the most suitable place to locate the commission.

He also argued that Gombe has the same status with Maiduguri, being also a state capital, and hence, there is no reason to consider Maiduguri as a more suitable place to site the commission.

In the same vein, the senators could not agree on the commission’s source of funding as an initial proposal that 15 per cent of federal allocation to every state of the region should be deducted at source for its funding was dropped.
Also, another proposal that 50 per cent of ecological fund meant for each of the six North-east states should be deducted at source for the funding of the commission was also rejected by the committee.

In view of the inability of the senators to find common grounds for both the funding and location of the commission, the clause by clause consideration of the bill could not be concluded as a result of the disagreement on the clauses on funding and location.

Therefore, the Senate stood down the planned passage of the bill and consequently referred it back to the committee to resolve the controversy and come up with acceptable proposals on the two issues.

In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki, said the Senate had reached a consensus on 24 of the 26 clauses of the bill, observing that its passage was only stalled by the inability to reach a consensus on the two clauses.
Also yesterday, Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central) protested the non-inclusion of an indigene of Bayelsa State on the list of ambassadorial nominees sent to the Senate last week by President Muhammadu Buhari. list.
Paulker described it as a violation of the constitution as Saraki asked the Committee on Foreign Affairs to consider the protest of Paulker while screening the nominees.

Paulker said: “Initially I thought those calls were misplaced but as we go through the record this morning, the facts that are available to us even at the foreign affairs ministry, shows that at least we have two Bayelsans that are in the level of deputy directors.

“I believe that these two personalities can fit in to where this nominees came from. Equally in the list, there are some states that have up to three nominees . Non-inclusion of any Bayelsans on the list is a clear violation of our right in the constitution. My only prayer is that before the committee consider this list, I implore you (the senate president) and my colleagues to intervene through the committee. In fact, we need to communicate to the presidency of the omission so that justice can be done to the state called Bayelsa.”