SEDC: Bold Step Towards National Unity and Cohesion

Don Ubani writes on the bold steps being taken to ensure that the South East Development Commission Bill before the National Assembly is passed before long.

Following the end of Nigerian Civil War, otherwise known as Nigeria/Biafra War, on 15th January, 1970, the Federal Government  under General Yakubu Gowon as  Head of State, declared there was ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’.

Sequel to the said Declaration, General Gowon announced what became known as the three Rs, Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. As the three Rs implied, they were aimed at a seamless reintegration of the war-battered Igbo into the Nigerian State.

However, as time went on, it became obvious that apart from the only £20 each adult Igbo was given by the Federal Government, not minding how much such a person had in his or her bank account before the outbreak of the Civil War, and the emergence of late Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme as Vice President of Nigeria to late President Shehu Shagari in 1979, no other facility or opportunity was created for the Igbo for meaningful reintegration into the new Nigerian State.

Though, through exceptional entrepreneurial ingenuity, the Igbo in Nigeria live almost like a people who have never heard, much more witnessed a war, the feeling of marginalisation has been very high in them. This feeling got to its climax during the eight-year tenure of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, 2015-2023. He did not, at any time, hide his hatred for the Igbo whom he publicly derogatorily described as ‘a dot in a circle’.

Due to very destructive ravages of the North-East Region by Islamist Boko Haram insurgents, the Federal Government under General Buhari established the North-East Development Commission in 2017 to rehabilitate the Boko Haram infested Region.

But an attempt by the South-East Caucus in the National Assembly to have what had been established for the People of North-East replicated in the South-East was frustrated and thrown out in the same 2017. The same effort was repeated in 2018 but was, again, thrown out.

It is, therefore, a very big delight and assurance that in 2024, following his strategic relentless pursuit for the overall welfare and collective interest of the people of South-East of Nigeria, the unassuming assiduously team-playing Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, has, without any iota of effrontery or orchestrated publicity, systematically galvanized concerted efforts of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the Bill for the establishment of the much-needed and long canvassed but earlier abandoned South-East Development Commission (SEDC).

While commending the very erudite and patriotic Deputy Speaker, Honourable Members of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, Most Distinguished Senator Godswill Akpabio, and his colleagues in the Red Chambers, and believing that a Conference Committee will soon be set up to harmonize likely differences in their respective passages, special thanks must be given to President Bola Tinubu for depicting clear attributes of a Statesman and Nationalist. If he had behaved like General Buhari, the Bill would not have seen the light of the day. It would have ‘died premature and thrown out like it was done both in 2017 and 2018.

The South-East, I honestly believe, is grateful to Mr President who is most likely disposed to give assent to the Bill once it gets to his table.

Hopefully, as soon as it becomes an Act, with a high expectation of effective implementation, the South-East Development Commission (SEDC) which would usher in employment, infrastructural development, growth in agriculture, rapid educational advancement, guarantee health insurance, and improvement in technologically-driven security, would signal an end to the Nigerian Civil War that should really have ended 55 years ago but was allowed to linger due to lack of patriotic touch by previous leaders.

Through the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Ben Kalu, President Bola Tinubu stands unwaveringly distinguished, deserving and qualified to receive unmitigated applause from the entire People of South-East, even as there is high expectation that the President would, in like manner, consider the plight of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from its political angle.

Once these two anticipations are accomplished, the South-East Region would be next to no other Region both in terms of peace and development.

-Sir Ubani writes from Aba, Abia state.

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