Reps set development agenda for devastated Northeast
AFTER a two-week debate, the House of Representatives has approved a legislative agenda for the lower chamber of the 8th National Assembly with focus on employing the process of lawmaking to bring human and physical development to Nigeria through the presentation by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, on June 23, of a blueprint to drive the activities in the chamber.
Debate on the document began on June 24 but was truncated by the unfortunate incident of June 25 when lawmakers engaged one another in a brawl over leadership crisis.
Thereafter the House was forced to adjourn for over one month. Unveiling some of the highlights of the adopted agenda, Dogara said, ìThe House Oversight activities shall leverage on the constitutionally mandated power of investigation under Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution to expose corruption, inefficiency and waste in the conduct of government business.
Further powers as contained in the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act will be effectively utilized.î He added that he House would develop a mechanism to integrate civil society organisations and the media in carrying out the oversight functions, without abusing its powers.
According to the Speaker, ìIn carrying out its oversight and investigative hearing activities, the House shall ensure that its powers are not misused or abused by either Members or Committees. “The 8th House shall strengthen its processes, Rules and internal structures to support its Oversight and Investigating Hearing activities and ensure full access to all government financial information.
It shall also develop mechanisms to sanction those who do not cooperate with its oversight or investigative activities or who refuse to implement legislative wishes or Resolutions.
The House of Representatives will collaborate with its counterpart in the Senate and other arms of government to legislate for the common good of the Nigerian people.
Our legislative activities will cover critical spheres of life in Nigeria.“The House will legislate to achieve reforms in Nigeriaís national economy and development, tackle poverty, unemployment, confront the scourge of corruption, terrorism and security challenges in the country, among others.
Against the background of insecurity, the Speaker last week came up with what could turn out to be the legislative solution that would alleviate the pains and address the yearnings of the people following the seemingly intractable menace of insurgency devastating the North Eastern region of the country.
Specifically, the Speaker in a motion sponsored by him and 87 other lawmakers titled “Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development of the North East Zone of Nigeria,” lamented the insurgency in the area and sought immediate intervention to provide succor for the people in the zone.
By this motion, Dogara became the first Speaker, at least since 1999, to have stepped down from the Chair to the floor of the Chamber to sponsor a motion.
After presenting the motion, the House, through the Chairman of its adhoc committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-Jev, suspended Order VII, Rule 24 of its standing orders to enable the Deputy Speaker, Sullaimon Yussuff Lasun, preside over the session.
Leading debate on the motion, Dogara†requested President Muhammadu Buhari to facilitate the convening of an international donor conference or summit as soon as possible for the reconstruction, rehabilitation, recovery and development of the Northeast ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgents.
The summit, he said, would be to mobilize additional financial resources through international donor funding from United Nations agencies, multilateral and bilateral partners among others.
The House therefore urged the Federal government to set up a development agenda towards rebuilding the affected states. Specifically, the House urged the government to give priority attention to the rebuilding of all the schools destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgents and facilitate scholarships up to university level for children of the victims
The House said the development agenda, which should cover all the six Northeast states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe must have specific targets, funding and deliverables that are guided by reconstruction of homes, villages, towns and infrastructure; repatriation of people to their homes and villages and rehabilitation of people, communities and livelihoods and economic as well social development.
The House also urged the Federal Government to consider building a Northeast highway, linking the capitals and major cities of all the six states and reviving agriculture in the zone through the completion of the South Chad Irrigation Project, which is one of the largest irrigation projects in Africa with 22 million people depending on it, and other agricultural projects, in order to open up the economies and fast-track the socioeconomic development of the zone.
Similarly, the lawmakers urged President Buhari to set up the machinery for the establishment of a Northeast Development Commission, through an executive bill as soon as possible, to take care of the reconstruction, rehabilitation, recovery and development of the zone with robust financing mechanisms which shall include a percentage of the Reserve Fund, special contribution by companies, donor agencies, international NGOs, development partners and other funding options that would meet the challenges facing the zone.
The lawmakers commended all stakeholders, especially the security agencies and others, who have in one way or the other contained terrorist attacks in the area and have contributed to the welfare of the internally displaced persons and other victims of the insurgency.
Recall that, Dogara while declaring his intention to vie for the Speakership of the House of Representatives in April 2025, hinted of working with his colleagues in the chamber in collaborating with the Senate and the Executive in getting the country on the path of progress and development.
As the 8th Assembly sets to start in earnest when members resume plenary on September 29, it is expected that the House would manifest its effectiveness and provide true representation to constituents in other geopolitical zones of the country and the Nigerian people.