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Senators divided over SWDC Bill as it scales second reading

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The Senate turned rowdy yesterday as senators were sharply divided during a debate on the bill titled, “A Bill for an Act to Establish the South-West Development Commission.”

While some lawmakers supported the proposed bill as a possible catalyst for boosting further development in the region, others kicked against it.

The bill, which eventually passed the second reading, was opposed by some lawmakers, who said that the South-West does not need such commission, as the region is ahead of others in term of development.

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The lawmakers warned that the Senate should not divide or balkanise the country, adding that the commissions granted to other regions came into place because of certain circumstances.

Opposing the bill, Adamu Bulkachuwa (Bauchi North) said the National Assembly should not be the chamber to discuss disintegration of the country.

He said he had a completely different view about the bill, saying: “I rise to alert that the Senate should not be the chamber where it would be pushing for disintegration in Nigeria.

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“There was Amotekun, now there is South-West Development Commission. All the other commissions that were approved by this Senate, including the NDDC and NEDC, were actually children of circumstances. North-East was devastated by Boko Haram and with all the wars, they need rehabilitation. In Niger Delta, because of the oil exploration activities, the livelihood of the people there was rendered almost useless as they could not farm or do fishing.

“I do not see a reason why South-West Development Commission should be created because South-West is the most developed sub-region in Nigeria.

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Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta Central) said: “If we balkanise this country, we will be held responsible. We shouldn’t sit here and divide this country. The foundation we are laying here is a foundation to balkanise the country.

Also, Surajudeen Ajibola (Osun Central) said that the bill shouldn’t be seen along with ethnic thinking, adding that there shouldn’t be unnecessary agitation, as South-West has contributed to the development of the country.

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Ibikunle Amosun said: “I would like to crave your indulgence to stress that the issues that necessitated the enactment of this bill are prevalent in all the other geo-political zones in the country. What this literarily means is that all the six geo-political zones in Nigeria have more or less similar issues.

“The push for the establishment of the South-West Development Commission is an attempt to address the dwindling fortunes of the South-West region by implementing a regional development plan, taking into consideration the region’s unique endowments, natural advantages and capabilities.”

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