By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – THE Senate, yesterday,began formal moves aimed at establishing a special commission to handle poverty eradication programmes in the country.
The development is coming against the backdrop of its concern that various agencies that had been established in the past, had no required enabling laws for their operations.
The Red Chamber demonstrated this by passing for second reading, a bill sponsored to that effect by Senator Ibrahim Gobir, APC, Sokoto East.
Gobir in the Bill which seeks for an Act to Establish the National Poverty Eradication Commission “, said unlike the National Poverty Eradication Programme( NAPEP) and similar agencies already established by the federal government, the proposed commission, would be backed with relevant laws as a statutory body vested with responsibilities of coordinating and monitoring all poverty activities in Nigeria.
He said the intendment of the bill is for the commission to maintain a data bank on all poverty issues in the country and act as government agency for catalyzing resources at all times for the purposes of eradicating poverty for mass participation in the economic development process.
He added that the commission when established, would be saddled with responsibility of quarterly informing Nigerians of percentage reduction in poverty .
The commission would also be made of five directorates to be headed by a Director- General under the supervision of a Chairman and six other members from each of the six geo- political zones.
Virtually all the senators who contributed spoke in support of the bill to be read the second time .
Deputy Senate President , Ike EKweremadu, who presided over the day’s session,in his remark, said the bill was a welcome development as regards poverty eradication in the country.
He said the gap between the rich and the poor in the country was unacceptable,saying the Senate would work to the realisation of the bill.
According to him, for the commission to well funded, instrumentality of taxation needs to be used by taxing luxury goods and others.
He said:”What we have been seeing in the past, is giving mere handouts of N5,000 to N10,000 for people to sweep the street and other menial jobs but with the intended commission, Nigerians will be put in productive ventures that would definitely transform them.”