BY SOLOMON AYADO and AHURAKA ISAH, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the North East Development Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2017.
The senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen Ita Enang, who made this known in a statement he issued yesterday, said the Act establishes the North East Development Commission.
Enang explained that the commission has the mandate to receive and manage funds allocated by the federal government and international donor agencies for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency.
The presidential aide added that the Act would also help greatly in tackling the menace of poverty and environmental challenges in the zone.
His words: “It provides for offices of Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Director (Administration and Finance), Executive Director (Humanitarian Affairs), Executive Director (Operations) and members representing the North East Zone to be rotated amongst member states of the commission.
“The commission will among other things coordinate projects and programmes within the Master Plan for the rehabilitation, resettlement, reconciliation, reconstruction and sustainable development of the North-East Zone.
“This will be done in the field of infrastructure, human and social services, including health and nutrition, education and water supply, agriculture, wealth creation and employment opportunities, urban and rural development and poverty alleviation.
“The commission will also liaise with federal ministries, departments, agencies, states and development partners on implementation of all measures approved in the Master Plan for stabilization and development of the North-East by the Federal Government.
“It will equally assess and report on any project being funded or carried out in the North-East by any federal ministry, department and agency or company that has an agreement with the Federal Government, and ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilised.
“The commission will equally liaise with other stakeholders on tackling of humanitarian, ecological and environmental problems and degradation that arise from natural causes, insurgency and industrial activities in the North-East Zone’’.
Enang added the commission would seek humanitarian, human, material, technical and financial support from development partners, local or international, and non-governmental organisations (NGOa), with a view to developing the North East region.
According to him, the commission is saddled with the responsibility of coordinating civil-military confidence building, stabilisation measures and activities that lie within the civil-military interface, especially before, during and after military and security operations.
He stated that one other key role of the commission was to act as the focal point to coordinate and harmonise all other interventions programmes and initiatives that the federal government is involved with in the North East.
Enang also hinted that the Act, as assented to, has been communicated to appropriate authorities.
Saraki, Dogara Hail President
Reacting to the development, Senate President Bukola Saraki said yesterday that the signing into law of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Bill by President Buhari is highly commendable.
In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the presidential assent as a major development in the efforts by the present administration to restore peace and normalcy in the North East and making the harrowing experience of the people, as a result of the insurgency, a thing of the past.
“I applaud President Buhari for signing the North East Development Commission Bill into law. Now that the NEDC Act has the full force and effect of the law, it is my hope that we can collectively work towards the rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding of the North East”, he stated.
Saraki further expressed confidence that the NEDC Act will help alleviate the suffering of the millions of Nigerians whose lives have been affected by the insurgency in the zone.
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, commended President Buhari for signing the Bill into law.
In a statement personally signed by him, the Speaker commended the president’s sensitivity to the plight of the highly traumatised people of the North East.
“I expect that the expeditious coming into force of the commission will remedy the long years of underdevelopment suffered by the region. The recovery and redevelopment of the zone devastated by terrorism is expected to last decades”, he noted.