The house of representatives has passed for second reading a bill seeking to establish the South-East Development Commission.
The lower legislative chamber had rejected the bill in 2018 but it passed second reading during Thursday’s plenary.
The senate passed the bill last year.
The lawmakers who supported it were across party lines and argued that the legislation would give the south-east a sense of belonging.
Among the objectives of the bill is to “serve as a catalyst to develop the commercial potentials of the south-east, receive and manage funds from alllocation of the federation for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and reparation for houses and lost business of victims of the civil war and address any other environmental or developmental challenges.”
Chukwuma Ujam from Enugu state urged his colleagues to support the bill and not bring “ethnic sentiments” to the issue.
“The south-east is faced with environment challenges, if other regions want development commission, we have already canvassed for support. Let us not bring ethnic sentiments,” he said
Samuel Onuigbo from Imo state said the senate already passed the bill, adding: “This is not about sentiment, but environmental challenges. The other one is that at a time like this, we should build unity, this is not the time to exclude certain region of the country.”
Several lawmakers from the north also supported the legislation.
Yakubu Bade from Kaduna state said establishing the south-east commission will cushion the effect of the civil war in the region.
According to him, “the war that was done in the southeast was not conventional but gurrela warfare; a lot of damage has been done to that area.”
Abdulmumin Jibrin from Kano state agreed with him, and also warned his colleagues against rejecting the bill.
He said: This is time to show this part of the country that they are part of the federal Republic of Nigeria. If you kill this bill, it will come back to hurt you sooner or later.
“I call on our colleagues that we should rise now and show the south-eastern part of Nigeria that they are part of us.”
Editor’s note: This story has bee n edited for an error of fact.