The bill which seeks to establish the South West Development Commission on Wednesday scaled through second reading in the House of Representatives at the plenary.
Sequel to the overwhelming support enjoyed by the bill sponsored by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila alongside 81 other lawmakers across party lines, it was referred to the House Committee on Justice for further legislative action.
Some of the lawmakers who spoke in support of the bill include Majority Chief Whip, Hon. Mohammed Monguno; Majority Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta); Hon. Henry Nwawuba (PDP-Imo); Hon. Shehu Koko; Hon. Nasir Ahmed (APC-Kano).
The lawmakers who affirmed that Lagos State located in the South-West geo-political zone of the country, is the commercial nerve of the country, expressed optimism that the Commission, when set up, would impact on the development of the region and the country at large.
As stipulated in Clause 1(3) of the bill: The Commission shall have its head office in Ibadan, Oyo State and shall establish an office in each member-state namely: Oyo, Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun respectively.
Part II of the proposed bill which spell out the functions of the Commission provides that the Commission shall: formulate policies and guidelines for the development of the South-West states; conceive, plan and implement, in accordance with the set rules and regulations, projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the South-West states in the fields of transportation, health, education, employment, agriculture, industrialisation, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity, solid mineral exploitation and telecommunications and cause the South-West states to be surveyed in order to ascertain measures which are necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development.
The Commission is also expected to: prepare master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the South-West states and the estimates of the costs of implementing such master plans and schemes; implement all the measures approved for the development of the South-West states by the Federal Government and the member-states of the Commission; identify factors inhibiting the development of the South-West states and assist the member-states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure a sound and efficient management of the resources of the South West States; assess and report on any project being funded or carried out in the South-West states by mineral extracting and mining companies, oil and gas producing companies, and any other company including non-governmental organisations and ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilised; tackle ecological and environmental problems that arise from the extraction and mining of solid mineral, exploration of oil mineral in the South-West states and advise the Federal Government and the member states on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring and environmental pollution; liaise with the various solid mineral extraction and mining companies and oil and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution prevention and control.
The Commission is further saddled with the responsibility of execution of such other works and perform such other functions which are required for the sustainable development of the South-West states and its people as well as receive donations and gifts from any legitimate, documented source aimed at the advancement of its set goals, provided such donations shall be reported to the relevant federal authorities.
On funding, Part V of the bill also stipulates that: “The Commission shall establish and maintain a fund, the proceeds of which shall be used to defray all expenditures incurred by the Commission.
“There shall be paid and credited to the fund established pursuant to sub-clause (1) of this paragraph monies – from the Federal Government, the equivalent of 15 per cent of the total monthly statutory allocations due to member states of the Commission from the Federation Account; 3 per cent of the annual budget of any federal port operating in the South-West; 3 per cent of the total annual budget of any oil-producing company operating, onshore and offshore, in the South-West States: including gas processing companies.
Others are 3 per cent of the total annual budget of any solid mineral extracting mining company operating in the South-West states; 50 per cent of monies due to member-states of the Commission from the Ecological Fund; such monies as may from time to time, be granted or lent to or deposited with the Commission by the federal or a state government, any other body or institution whether local or foreign; all monies raised for the purpose of the Commission by way of gifts, loan, grants-in-aid, testamentary disposition or otherwise; and the proceeds from all other assets that may, from time to time, accrue to the Commission.
According to the proponents of the bill, the fund shall be managed in accordance with the rules made by the Board, and without prejudice to the generality of the power to make rules under this sub-clause, the rules shall, in particular, contain provisions.
Specifying the manner in which the assets or the fund of the Commission are to be held, and regulating the making of payments into and out of the fund, and requiring the keeping of proper accounts and records for the purpose of the fund in such form as may be specified in the rules.
As captured in the Explanatory Memorandum of the proposed legislation, the “Bill seeks to establish the South West Development Commission charged with the responsibility among others, to receive and manage funds from allocation of the Federation Account and to receive donations and gifts for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructural damages suffered by the region as well as tackle the ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the South-West states.”
Some of the lawmakers who co-sponsored the bill are: Hon. Fakeye Olufemi; Hon. Adejare Samuel Babatunde; Hon. Oke Oluwole; Hon. Fatoba Olusola; Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas; Hon. Akinolu Kayode; Hon. Muraina Saubana Ajibola; Hon. Osoba Babatunde; Hon. Adaramodu Yemi; Hon. Ayeni Babatunde; Hon. Kolawole Musibau; Hon. Tunji-Ojo Olubunmi; Hon. Alli Taofeek; Hon. Adeyemi Adeniyi; Hon. Akintola Oluokun George; Hon. Adeogun Adejoro; Hon. Bamisile Richard; Hon. Adebanjo Olufemi; Hon. Edun Oladapo; Hon. Ojugbele Olusola and Hon. Obasa Adekunle.
Others include: Hon. Ayinla Bolaji; Hon. Dawodu Bashiru; Hon. Olaifa Aremu; Hon. Ogunlola Olubunmi; Hon. Jimoh Olajide; Hon. Egoh Emmanuel; Hon. Owolabi Peter; Hon. Egberongbe Adewale; Hon. Makinde Abiola; Hon. Omolafe Adedayo; Hon. Amobi Akintola; Hon. Onyejeocha Nkeiruka; Hon. Johnson Abiodun; Hon. Alabi Adekunle; Hon. Salaam Bamidele; Hon. Adefisoye Adeyemi; Hon. Sarkin Adar; Hon. Kuye Ademorin; Hon. Akinremi Olaide Adewale; Hon. Ajilesoro Taofeek; Hon. Adigun Adekunle; Hon. Akinjo Kolade; Hon. Shoyinka Abiola; Hon. Yuguda Kila; Hon. Hunpe Babatunde; Hon. Lawal Kolawole; Hon. Oyewo Oyegbile; Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta; Hon. Ajao Adejumo; Hon. Olarewaju Kunle; Hon. Kabir Rurum; Hon. Akinfolarin Mayowa; Hon. Onanuga Oriyomi; Hon. Olajide Stanley; Hon. Odebunmi Dokun; Hon. Ikengboju Dele; Hon. Uduyok Charles; Hon. Isiaka Ayokunle; Hon. Raji Olawale; Hon. Obanikoro Ibrahim; Hon. Taiwo Adewale; Hon. Sada Soli; Hon. Balogun Olusegun; Hon. Adekoya Adesegun; Hon. Mallam Gana; Hon. Owolabi James; Hon. Ojerinde Abiodun; Hon. Afolabi Olalekan; Hon. Benson Babajimi; Hon. Azubogu Chris; Hon. Osunsanya Kolapo; Hon. Faleke Abiodun; Hon. Agunsoye Ojo; Hon. Adelegbe Oluwatimehin; Hon. Abiola Peller; Hon. Badru Dolapo and Hon. Olatunbosun Olajide.
Recall that a similar legislative intervention heralded the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission and North East Development Commission.
Also, recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, however, declined assent to the harmonised Bill which seeks to establish the South East Development Commission passed by the 8th Assembly.