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Sunday, 4 June 2017

Metuh knocks reps over rejection of South East Development Bill

Metuh knocks reps over rejection of South East Development Bill

Former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh

FORMER National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, has said that the rejection by the House of Representatives of the Bill for Establishment of South East Development Commission does not demonstrate the desired spirit of national accommodation and sensitivity towards the people and problems of the South East zone.

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Metuh said this on Sunday through a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen, just as he commended the South East caucus of the National Assembly for bringing the needs of the region to the front burner.

According to him, it is also heart-warming to note that a good number of lawmakers from other geo-political zones supported the bill, describing the gesture as a “laudable act, showing that other regions are beginning to appreciate the issues related to the developmental predicaments of the South-East.”

The former PDP publicity scribe while recalling the suffering and underdevelopment the zone had gone through under various administrations since 1970 when the Civil War ended, however, expressed hope, declaring that the current momentary hitch in the bid to establish a South East Development Commission must not be seen as the end of the road, or a badge of defeat.

Rather, he said it should become a rallying stimulus for all men of good conscience across the country to strive towards re-strategizing appropriately in order to redress the shameful neglect of the zone.

Metuh maintained that the resultant massive infrastructural decay under successive administrations since 1970 was a national embarrassment that had lasted long enough.

“This bill, when properly reintroduced, must get the National Assembly and indeed the entire nation to pause and reconsider the terrible situation Nigerians in this region have faced for nearly 40 years now.

“Notwithstanding the long standing debates on the successes or failures of the post-Civil War ‘3Rs’ and the controversies surrounding the timing of the indigenization decree one year after the South Easterners were limited to only 20 Pounds refunds from their bank savings, a cursory look at the application of the national budget for infrastructure development since 1970 reveals a horrendous imbalance against the South East.

“The result is decayed infrastructure, absence of substructures for development and total lack of government presence. This is unacceptable in a nation that professes unity, equality and accommodation of the interests and welfare of all its citizens.

“Every impartial observer would without hesitation agree that the establishment of the South East Development Commission is the least the region deserves at this time in our national life. It will serve as the beginning of a responsive accommodation to help assuage the sensibilities of a people who believe they are completely deprived of government presence and patronage,” he said.

“Our great nation has at various times designed and implemented development commissions in some zones for commendable reasons. These commissions are in addition to other highly rated special intervention projects, such as those for educationally disadvantage areas and the much acclaimed Federal Character programme to help accommodate zonal interests.

“The South-East issue has been a burning topic in the hearts of the people. It is on record that way back in 2001, prominent South- East stakeholders under the aegis of the South- East Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Committee (SERRAC), and under my leadership, delivered a bill on the same subject matter to the South- East Caucus of the House of Representatives then led by Senator Mao Ohabunwa. I note with joy that it has at last come to the centre stage, a development for which the present crop of lawmakers must be commended.

“I believe that as this issue is brought back to the floor, the House of Representatives and indeed the National Assembly should, in the national interest, allow for robust debates and considerations on the basis of the wisdom and merits of the issues at stake. This is desperately important and right, especially at this defining time in our national life,” Metuh added.

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