Four bills to establish Development Commissions for the South East, South West, North Central and North West geo-political zones respectively, passed third reading in the House of Representatives on Thursday, 14th October. The proposed commissions are expected to: formulate development policies and guidelines for each of the regions; plan and implement programmes for sustainable development of key infrastructure in the respective regions, relating to education, roads, health, electricity, commerce, etc; identify factors inhibiting development in the regions and assist member states to formulate and implement policies for the management of resources in each of the regions, among others.
Each commission shall have a governing board consisting of a Chairman, a representative from each state within the region, representatives from relevant federal ministries, representatives from security agencies, the Managing Director of the commission and two or three executive directors of the commission. However, the representatives of security agencies are missing in the composition of the South East Commission’s board. Instead, the bill provides for members from each geo-political zone, in addition to representatives from the South Eastern States and other members of the board already listed.
Funding for the commissions is expected to come from: specified percentages of the total monthly statutory allocations due to the member states within each region from the Federation Account; grants, loans, deposits from the Federal or State Government, local or foreign bodies; specified percentages of the Ecological Fund of the Federation due to member states within a region; monies raised for the commissions by way of gifts, grants-in-aid, testamentary disposition and proceeds from assets that accrue to the commission. Other sources of funds that are specific to some of the regions include; a percentage of the annual budget of any federal port operating in the region; a percentage from the total annual budget of any oil producing company in the region; a percentage of the total annual budget of any solid mineral extracting mining company in the region. The South-South and the North East regions presently have the Niger Delta Development Commission and the North East Development Commission, respectively. If all four bills are signed into law, all six geo-political zones in Nigeria will have their respective Development Commissions.