A mild drama ensued in the House of Representatives on Thursday after a bill for an Act to establish the South-East Development Commission was rejected by the House, forcing a hasty adjournment of proceedings.
The bill, sponsored by Hon. Chukwuka Onyema and 42 others, had been presented for second reading, having scaled the first reading.
It, however, failed to gain approval by the House at the session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, after it had been debated.
This is after a similar bill to establish the North-East Development Commission had since been passed by the National Assembly, awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Following the rejection, South-East lawmakers immediately protested the decision on the grounds that the House could have, at least, allowed the bill to pass the second reading for more views to be collated from Nigerians at a public hearing.
It was learnt that while the bill was first called up by the Speaker of the House, the mover (Onyema) was not around to introduce the bill for subsequent debate.
As a result of his absence, Dogara had to step down the bill.
However, Dogara’s action threw the House into a rowdy session for about 15 minutes, after it was met with fierce protests by other sponsors who argued that it was unfair because it had been step down on Tuesday and Wednesday when Onyema had left the chambers.
In the midst of the rowdiness, Onyeama reappeared in the chambers, just like he did on Wednesday after the bill had been stood down.
The speaker then said, “Let me clarify that it was not as if the bill was stopped. The sponsor of the bill was not around and we followed the rules to step it down.
“Now that he is here, we will take it. Nobody will shut out anybody because we don’t have the right to do that.”
With this, the Speaker succeeded in calming frayed nerves and then a debate was opened on the bill.
Meanwhile, the proposed commission was to be charged with the responsibility, among other things, of receiving and managing funds from allocations of the Federation Account for the development, reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructure in the South-east.
It further seeks to tackle the menace of poverty, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the South-east states and other related matters.