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Reps, stakeholders split over constituencies’ development fund

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Members of the House of Representatives during a plenary


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A proposal to establish constituencies’ development fund to finance projects by lawmakers, yesterday divided the House of Representatives and civil society groups.
While the House Committee on Constituency Outreach insisted that the fund would facilitate even distribution across the country, the civil society groups argued that it would usurp the power of local councils.

The disagreement took place at a public hearing organised by the committee.An official of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, argued that the proposed legislation “is a usurpation of the local government administration under the executive arm.”

The Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, represented by the Chief Whip, Pally Iriase, explained that the objective of the bill is to enhance the participation of citizens in judicious utilisation of funds.

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He added that it would also create a socio-economic development with accountability at the various constituencies.He said: “The bill would streamline the management and implementation of constituencies’ development fund by entrusting the execution of such projects in the hands of the rural development department.”

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to establish a Southeast Development Commission yesterday passed the second reading at the Senate.It was sponsored by Senator Samuel Anyanwu and endorsed without debate, following an appeal by the Deputy Senate President Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

The deputy senate president had urged his colleagues to pass the bill in the spirit of fairness and justice.When Senate President Bukola Saraki subjected it to a voice vote, the lawmakers gave it a resounding approval.

It was thereafter referred to the Senate Committee on Establishment, which is expected to report back within four weeks.The bill was titled: “An Act to Establish the South East Development Commission in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act as catalyst to develop the commercial potential of the southeast and other connected matters.”

The passage of this bill is coming few days after the House of Representatives rejected it at a rowdy session.Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday passed the bills to establish a Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) and an act to amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts.

Other bills also passed by the lawmakers at yesterday’s plenary were the bills to establish a Federal College of Dental Technology and Therapy to provide for courses leading to the award of degrees, diplomas and certificates, and an act to amend the Surveyors Registration Council of Nigeria.


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Yakubu Dogara
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