John Nnia Nwodo,President-General,Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President
By Chioma Gabriel & Olayinka Ajayi
LAGOS—Pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has commended the National Assembly for passing the South East Economic Commission bill but expressed worry over its funding.
According to a statement released by the body and signed by its Spokesman, Chuks Ibegbu, “though its a welcome development, the funding aspect remains worrisome. The federal government has been funding similar agencies in other zones of the country and we wonder why the agency would be funded from the very limited funds that accrue to the South East.
“We call for an amendment of the bill so the federal input to the agency will be properly captured.”
Passage of bill,justice for Ndigbo —Oduah
However, one of the sponsors of the bill Sen. Stella Oduah, described the passage of the bill by the Senate as justice for Igbo people.
Oduah told NAN in Abuja, yesterday, that the bill’s passage was a step forward in meeting the yearnings and aspirations of South-East people.
The Bill was passed three years after it was introduced in the Senate. It scaled first reading on June 22, 2016 and second reading on June 7, 2017.
It was sponsored by Oduah and Sen. Samuel Anyanwu.
Oduah explained that the bill was a response to the injustice and marginalisation being canvassed over the years by the people.
According to her, when assented to, the bill will help to tackle to a large extent, the agitations by proponents of Biafra.
“I feel very happy and I think everybody from across the River Niger will be very happy. What the passage of this bill means for us is not that we are happy because we are from that part of the country. It is because justice is being done and then the disparity that is so clear is being addressed by the passage.
“With the passage, we will have a semblance of holistic development coming from all parts of Nigeria and the enabling environment will be there for the South-East people. This bill is about righting the wrong and closing the gap that disparity has so created for a region that has huge deficiency in infrastructure.
“Having to grow the region has been almost impossible. So, I am very happy. This to a large extent will bridge the gap of disparity and marginalisation that has led to agitations in the region,” she said.
Oduah, who is chairman, Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration, allayed fears that the House of Representatives was not in support of the bill.
She said, “the House of Representatives has up to this moment concurred. So, for me, the bill will not have the problem of passage in the House of Representatives.
“And the fear that the commission might be riddled with corruption is not an issue because the bill is clear on who should man it. The bill is also clear on the sources of revenue and what the revenue will be used for and the public could speak out if anything contrary to that is done.”
Oduah urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill when transmitted to him, adding that it would go down in history that he signed a law that brought succour to the people.
Commission long overdue-Chekwas Okorie
Also reacting, national chairman of the United Progressive Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie hailed the setting up of the commission, describing it as long overdue.
He said: “ It’s a very wonderful development and I urge President Muhamadu Buhari not to relent in assenting the bill into law because it is virtually long overdue. General Yakubu Gowon once promised reconciliation and reconstruction when he made a pronouncement at the end of the war that there is no victor, no vanquished. General Gowon promised reconstruction and reconciliation with the former Eastern region. The war ended without having any kind of guerrilla war as we are having with Boko Haram. Unfortunately, those promises and assurances were not kept.”