Reconciliation, Rehabilitation And Re-Integration: SEDC As A Panacea South East Development By Hon. Mike Ukoha

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), was established in 2000 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, with the sole mandate to developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. It was created as a quick response to end youth restiveness that degenerated into daily kidnapping and maiming of oil workers in the area which nearly crippled the economy of the country. Despite its creation, the minorities of the Niger Delta have continued to agitate and demand for greater autonomy and control of the area’s petroleum resources.

President Bola Tinubu
President Bola Tinubu

The people of the Niger Delta justified their grievances by reference to the extensive environmental degradation and pollution from oil activities that have occurred in the region since the late 1950s. Till date, through the NDDC, the Niger Delta region has witnessed developmental strides in infrastructure such as housing/renovations, road construction/rehabilitation, building of hospitals, university/schools and granting of scholarships to indigent students in the area, among other interventions.

Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Deputy Speaker House of Representatives

In the same vein, the establishment of the North East Development Commission (NEDC), in 2017, was primarily to coordinate the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of infrastructures which was damaged as a result of insurgency (Boko Haram menace), as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy, ecological challenges in the North Eastern States and other related matter. So far, both NDDC and NEDC, are living up to the mandates to which they were established.

However, the people of the South East region of Nigeria, appears to be in the huge disadvantage in all ramifications of life decades after the civil war which has left the entire region in ruin ever since. Regrettably, the 3Rs vision of reconciliation, rehabilitation and re-integration by the General Gowon regime aimed at addressing the plights of the region was without success. This is even as they have chosen to pursue their genuine demands ever since in a subtle disposition.

A Salute To Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu.

Luckily, there seems to be a ray of hope with the passage of the South East Development Commission (SEDC) bill by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The South East Development Commission bill is not a new phenomenon in the National Assembly, but it has gained traction at the beginning of the 10th Assembly, due to the enigmatic and pragmatic leadership of Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker. The SEDC bill has since received the nod of the Green Chamber. The Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio and his colleagues have equally passed the bill and the next step will be to step up the Conference Committee to reconcile any differences.

The rapid acceleration of the SEDC bill in this 10th Assembly, is indeed a cheering news. This same bill never saw the light of the day in both the 8th and 9th Assemblies and Kudos to the remarkable leadership of President Bola Tinubu, who has truly demonstrated the Renewed Hope agenda to the Southeast region. No doubt, the President will assent to the bill when presented to his office, considering the positive and meaningful impact of similar commissions in the Niger Delta and North East. Ndigbo are hopeful that the South East Development Commission will address the untold marginalization faced by her region since the end of the civil war. Above all, the SEDC, when established, will definitely address infrastructural deficit in the area, provide quality education and advance our school infrastructure and its standard by offering teachers continuing education as well as providing scholarships to indigent students, skill acquisition, employment opportunity to the people, including the restive youths, provide quality health care and improve socio-economic activities.

The people of the South East have suffered for so long and have been made to retrogress due to lack of commitment to their general well-being by successive government. But President Bola Tinubu’s name is about to be written in gold as the President who signed the SEDC bill into law when it finally lands on his table. Ndigbo will eternally remain grateful to him if this is achieved, bearing in mind that the vision of reconciliation, rehabilitation and re-integration have finally been realized after many years in abeyance.

Ukoha was former Minority Whip, Abia State House of Assembly.

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