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Stella Oduah: Why Igbos Deserve The South East Development Commission

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* Making a National case for my regional development bill at the Senate

Senator Oduah paddling a canoe to get access to her family house in Akili, Anambra State following the 2012 flood

The truth is — that every part of Nigeria suffers one form of neglect or the other but some are more unequally yoked than the others. A case in point are the Igbo people of Nigeria.

I am a proud Nigerian but an unhappy one. As a Senator representing Anambra North, my first obligation is to the people of Anambra North, and then Anambra State and then the South East of Nigeria. My people are unenthusiastic about this Nation state, the mood in the region is at its worst since the civil war. I am not going to sit pretty in Abuja trying to be politically correct. The elite scoff at the demagogues but are unaware that their rise is only a proof of their own extinction.

The Igbos have been unfairly treated and victimised in our country but this piece does not seek to reopen those horrific wounds. (Let me stop sounding like an angry bigot: a term freely used on Igbos and even worse when also you happen to be a woman). I would like to look forward and this is why I sponsored the South East Development Commission Bill.

The Igbos are not just demanding a commission but totally deserve it, like any other marginalised tribe in the country. For instance, I supported the North East Development Commission because it is only the right thing to do. The region suffered from the consequence of the total neglect of social development including education, health and the crushing poverty that made it vulnerable to the wave of extremism represented by the Boko Haram sect which eventually consumed the region. Another case in point is the Niger Delta, which took up guns to fight for their own recognition by the Nigerian state. The costs are unnecessary.

Must we wait till this becomes the situation in the South East? No. Commonsense dictates that the people of the South East — who are some of the largest contributors of Internal Revenue to the country through their entrepreneurial prowess — should receive priority in terms of development and infrastructure or at least get treated equally. But this sadly, is not the case.

My region suffers a crushing ecological problem arising from soil erosion. At every point you turn, the huge deficit of federal infrastructure in the region is palpable. From the civil war up until my tenure as the Minister of Aviation, where I supervised the upgrade of the Enugu International Airport, the entire South East region of Nigeria lacked an international airport!

What Exactly Does This Bill Seek To Achieve?

The bill simply seeks to create the commission, which would provide and implement a roadmap for the development of infrastructure (public works) and social services in the five states of the South East: Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo. These states would be represented by members as well as representatives from the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice.

The Commission only seeks to exist for 10 years. Specifically, Section 1(4) of the Bill reads;

“The President may subject to the approval of the National Assembly wind-up the Commission after 10 years.”

From Aba to Nnewi and to Onitsha, the South East is known for being a major trading hub in Nigeria. The least the Federal Government should have done was to develop inland container ports in the region starting from the one in Onitsha. I believe that this is no longer a privilege but our right at this point. When we have an international airport, the next item on the agenda should be the development of the cargo export terminal which makes the inland cargo terminal important. We should not have to resort to Lagos for every import or export cargo. This only draws the country back and limits its frontiers for trade.

The case to advance the South East is a case for Nigeria. With the uncertainty of the price of crude oil and other extractive minerals, our economy has no other choice but to diversify. This is why the South East must receive the required attention.

I believe my colleagues in the senate have been mature enough to see the reasons why this South East Development Commission Bill should ultimately become law. My hope is that other Nigerians are persuaded to give their representatives at the National Assembly a nod to go ahead with this.

**

The Bill passed through First Reading in June 2017 and scaled through Second Reading in July. It is presently at the Committee Stage.

16 Comments

  1. deji

    March 22, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    A development commission that seeks to create and implement infrastructural development in a region. If her bill is approved and the commission created then the state government in that region should be abolished because there is no work they are doing again.

  2. Mz Socially Awkward....

    March 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    For real, I saw this name…. and spent a few minutes wondering why it was ringing a familiar chord.

    Then the penny dropped. Na wa…. so this woman, with all of that embezzling scandal which we never truly saw resolved, somehow ended up in the Senate? We truly don’t seem ready to solve our problems as a country, just yet.

    • Biker Chic

      March 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Sad but true. If Buhari who vehemently refused to produce his certificate, same Buhari who refused to participate in a debate to tell the Nation /voters whose votes he was asking for could become President, then anything is possible in Nigeria. Buhari of the 53 suitcases saga (Ya’all, If you do not know of the 53 suitcases saga then, me and you no be mate). I hate Buhari with a passion. I hate what he has done to this country. I feel nothing but disdain for anyone who voted for him. The same way I feel disdain for Jonathan for being so weak.

    • Anon

      March 22, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      The issue here is the bill she sponsored. Is the bill of merit of not?
      I suggest you pay for a space here to attack the sponsor of the bill. Now, let us go back to the issues raised in the post.

    • 9ja

      March 23, 2018 at 12:02 am

      @Anon, why is she sponsoring a “bill” now while when she was in government (in the executive branch) she did nothing? The money she spent on those bullet proof cars could have tarred a few roads, repaired and equipped some schools, and/or built several healthcare clinics. If folks like her governed properly, there would be NO need for so-called “development commissions”! She should go take several seats abegi! Next!!

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      March 23, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Dear Anon, my apologies as it seems that my comment didn’t properly communicate my thoughts on anything she’s selling, sponsoring or surrogating.

      I wouldn’t trust her as far as I can throw her. And that completely colors my views on whatever bill is currently being used to mask other greater evils undoubtedly carried out against the people she’s meant to be “protecting”.

      Please feel free to splurge on ad space here to discuss your own thoughts on the subject if you wish; I’ll just stick to the free one which is provided here in the comment section.

  3. Amaa

    March 22, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Aunty Biko nodu ezigbo ani !!! Infact shi ebe puo!!! My people this right here is why I know the senile old man has no plan for this country.

  4. AdamaziEvents

    March 22, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Thank you Stella Oduah. I am standing with you as I stood with you on ensuring that Akanu Ibiam Airport Enugu is on the international map today. Nne, keep speaking, AlaIgbo must be delivered.

  5. Anonymous

    March 22, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  6. cj

    March 22, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    she’s right!d south east truly deserves such a commission.D aims &objectives are well spelt out.d erosion in my village(imo state)is a time bomb waiting to wipe out an entire community.

  7. nnenne

    March 23, 2018 at 12:15 am

    Most travelled people, yet no international airport!
    Most educated. (Ask JAMB and WAEC data), yet no companies, built for employment, as preference is given to less educated to catch up. Yet juicy positions are given to less educated.
    Great businesses men and women, yet policies deny them of transportation options. Only one seaport!

    We could go on and on!
    Even the blind sees it!

    Kudos Stella, you may not be a saint but the same people who chastise you voted Buhari, with his known history into power!

    Topic today is EQUITY and FAIRNESS. No digression allowed!

    • Ovadje

      March 23, 2018 at 6:36 am

      @nnenne, if you so “educated” why are you waiting for someone else to form companies for your employment? Irony is that it is often the least educated Ibos (Coscharis, Innoson, Louis Carter, etc) who build the biggest businesses and companies – but (apart from Innoson) are smart enough to realize where the market is (Lagos, Abuja, PH, etc) and are not in the business of starting companies for the charity of ethnicity “employment”. Meanwhile, Cletus Ibeto bought controlling shares in the privatized Nkalagu Cement Co. years ago and his own kin in Ebonyi State has refused to let him take control of the company.

  8. chi

    March 23, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Thank u Ma. God bless u Ma.

  9. chi

    March 23, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Andy Uba be sitting there and making no positive impact. selfish man.

  10. nnenne

    March 24, 2018 at 3:47 am

    @Ovadje….
    Wonder what your thoughts are on economic policies and infrastructure!
    Have you ever heard of localization of industries?

    Now compare Aba with Lagos and/ or PH
    Which of these cuties would you rather do business and why? Compare the road network.
    Who gave Lagos the infrastructure? Its natives?
    What policies made that possible?
    Only the truth will set you free!

  11. nnenne

    March 24, 2018 at 3:56 am

    Only thing the south east is asking for is for the area to be opened up, not handouts!
    Abuja was not built by Dangote!
    Key Infrastructure drives development !
    You wanna invest your money where there’s ease of doing business!
    What is good for Lagos and Abuja is also good for the South East and other geopolitical areas of Nigeria!

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