Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja
A bill for the establishment of the North West Development Commission yesterday passed through second reading at the Senate.
The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Barau Jibrin (Kano North) and all the Senators from the North west geo-political zone, has also been referred to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, which is headed by Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, for further legislative input within four weeks.
According to the bill, the establishment of the commission would act as a catalyst to develop the potentials of the region as well as address the gap in the infrastructural development of the area.
Leading the debate on the bill, Jibrin said the North west has contributed immensely to the overall development of Nigeria in terms of agriculture and other areas of endevour.
He, however, added that Boko Haram crisis, banditry and kidnapping have impacted negatively on the region with houses, hospitals and schools damaged as a result of the crisis.
Jibrin said what the North west region required from the federal government is the support to develop its infrastructure and educate its youths so as to drive the process of developing the zone in its entirety in order to be at per with the more developed zones of the country.
He lamented that the zone has the highest population of people among the six geopolitical zones in the country with about 70 percent of the population made up of the youth mostly jobless.
His words: “The sad fact is that majority of these youths are uneducated in the region that has the highest out of school children in the country.
The establishment of this commission shall help to address this problem by educating these youths so as to develop the needed human capital to drive the developmental needs of the region in particular and Nigeria in general.
“The enactment of the bill will help to rebuild the North west zone and provide opportunity for the people of the zone to display their talents and contribute immensely to the development of the country.”
Citing the establishment of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as an example, the lawmaker stated that “although NDDC is not doing very well but yet it has done something. It is better than not having it at all but we are still asking that they should do more work there, so they can deliver their mandate.
Contributing to the debate, the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider his earlier decision not to sign the South east Development Commission Bill passed by the Eighth National Assembly and give his assent to the bill for the rapid development of the geo-political zone.
Ekweremadu also pledged his support for the North West Development Commission Bill and lamented that even though the Eighth Assembly passed the North East and South East Development Commission Bills and transmitted same to President Buhari for his assent but regrettably, the President gave his assent to the North East Development Commission Bill and declined assent to the South East Development Commission Bill.
He challenged the executive arm to be more proactive and less discriminatory in attending to such bills that would make for rapid development of the six geo-political zones in the country.
He called on the Senate leadership to set aside a day to consider and pass all the pending bills on development commissions for the remaining four geopolitical zones in the country and transmit same to the President for his assent.