BY HENRY UMORU
When she was elected a senator in 2015 to represent Anambra North on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, many who knew Stella Oduah believed she would perform, having occupied many high profile positions, including being Minister of Aviation. Today, those people are not disappointed.
Oduah is the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Police Affairs as well as member, Committees on Niger Delta Affairs, Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, and Petroleum Resources, Upstream.
Besides participating on the floor of the Senate, she is fully involved in the activities of the various standing committees as well as in ad-hoc committees. Even in bereavement, having lost her son recently, she still attends to her law making duties. The only sign that shows that she is mourning is that you find her dressed in black.
Oduah is passionate about the South East Development Commission, SEDC, which she co-sponsored with Senator Samuel Anyawu, PDP, Imo East, to facilitate the development of Igbo states just like the NDDC is doing in the Niger Delta.
The bill had been rejected in the House of Representatives after a rowdy session, but succour came when the Senate allowed it to scale second reading.
Oduah and Anyanwu will never forget in a hurry the day the bill passed second reading as there was wild jubilation in the Senate chamber as well as the gallery by Igbo senators and members of the House of Representatives. On that day, members of the House of Representatives had stormed the Senate to observe proceedings and immediately went into jubilation after the bill passed second reading. The Reps who stormed the Senate in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the upper chamber include Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Uzoma Nkem Abonta; Chike Okafor; Nnenna Ukeji; Jones Onyenreri and Jerry Alagbaoso.
Having passes second reading, the Bill for an Act to Establish the South East Development Commission and Other Matters Thereto 2016 (SB. 303) has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Matters and to report back to the upper chamber in four weeks. The bill was read the first time on the 22″d of June, 2016.
The proposed commission will address infrastructural deficit and as well engage youths in the South-East in productive ventures.
In his lead debate during plenary, Anyanwu had said: “Some of the functions highlighted for the commission include release of policies and guidelines for the development of the South East as well as the conception of plans to development in accordance with set rules, while also producing regulations, programs and projects for sustainable development of the South East.
“The Commission is also expected to provide a master plan reduction of unemployment and schemes to promote the physical development of the South East. It will also provide road map for the development of roads, education, health facilities, industrialization, agriculture, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and commerce in the area.
“The Commission will estimate the cost of implementing the master plan and schemes while implementing all the approved measures for development.
“Permit me to state here that the bill will not impose any financial burden on the Federal Government as its operations will be funded by 15 per cent of Federal Allocation from member states.
“The bill is divided into six (6) parts and has thirty (30) sections, one schedule therewith; and it seeks among other things: Development Commission for the South-East gee-political zone to rehabilitate and construct roads to ameliorate the devastating effect of soil erosion and other environmental or developmental challenges in the region made up of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states.
“To identify and promote programmes that will enhance the development of boundless entrepreneurial capacities, technical skills, technological innovativeness and managerial competences for our economic advancement.
“To give necessary attention and support needed to harness the abundant economic and ingenuous entrepreneurial potentials of the region, and to the development of the manufacturing and industrial activities capable of transforming the Nigerian economy and leading the way to a strategic domestic economic growth.
“The passage of this Bill will not impact negatively on the other geopolitical zones but rather support the re-Visitation of the need to address the issues raised by this Bill which all zones of Nigerian State have argued positively in support.
“The passage of this Bill will be critical in addressing the South East agitation for marginalisation through an integrative development plan that will promote and strengthen the sense of nationalism.
“A thriving and strong economy in the South East consequent upon the tackling of their problems will definitely lead to improved revenue streams into the Federation Account in terms of taxes and other Non-Oil revenue sources. I strongly urge and seek your support for the passage of this Bill based upon the arguments rendered thereof and the deserving benefits to the zone in particular and the country in general.”
Supporting the bill, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu referred to a bipartisan Senate, saying, “This is one rope that holds Nigeria together. I look forward to the support of the Senate to this bill”.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, said, “I want us all to see that we all have responsibilities to bring down the tension in this country and bring about unity. By this, we are showing as a Senate that we are ready to listen and look at the pros and cons. We need to unite this country. We must play our role. We only have one country”.
Other bills sponsored by Oduah include the Renewable Renewable Energy Bill 2017; Personal Information Protection Bill 2017; NYSC Act (Amendment) Bill 2017; a Bill for an Act to further alter the provisions of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) to provide for independent candidates in elections to the offices and the Religion Equity Commission Bill, 2017.
Also sponsored by her is a Bill for An Act to establish the National Integrated Community Development Agency to promote Sustainable Change in Social and Economic Relations and Supporting the Goals of Growth and Development in Rural Economy, a Bill for an Act for Complementary and alternative Medicine Practice Regulatory Council of Nigeria(Establishment, etc) Bill 2016, a Bill for an Act to Establish National Artisans Development Centres, to Provide for The Development of Artisans across the Country, and for other Matters Connected Therewith and Marriage Act CAP M6 LFN 2004 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2017 (SB. 189).