Honourable Wole Oke representing Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State in the House of Representatives is to present a bill which seeks to establish the North West Development Commission as the National Assembly resumes plenary session any time from now.
The bill being sponsored by the law maker elected under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is aimed at formulating policies and guidelines for the intervention in the development of the six states in the North West geopolitical zone of the country.
The benefiting States in the Zone are Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kastina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara respectively.
In the bid to ensure adequate funding of the Commission, the bill proposed the allocation of 13% of revenue generation from the solid minerals explored and produced within the North West Zone; a sum equivalent to 3% of the annual Valued Added Tax (VAT) collection as First Line Charge, to accrue to the Commission for a period of 10 years, notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and 0.005% of the profit after tax of companies resident within the North West Zone of the Federation.
Other sources of funding for the Commission are: such money as may be granted, lent to or deposited with the Commission by the Federal or State Government, or any other body or Institution whether local or foreign; money raised for the purposes of the Commission by way of gifts, loans, grants-in-aid, testamentary disposition or otherwise; proceeds from all other assets that may accrue to the Commission; proceeds from all other assets that may accrue to then Commission; and fees charged by the Commission, as well as all money collected by the Federal Government for the development of the North West Zone shall be domiciled in the Commission.
As stipulated in Part III of the proposed bill made available to our Correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, the Commission’s Headquarters shall be situated in Kaduna State and shall establish an office in each member state of the North West Zone.
It also provides for the establishment of various departments namely: Administration & Human Resources; Economic Development and Technical Department while the Projects Monitoring & Supervision Units shall be under the relevant Department which shall be responsible for ascertaining the pertinent need for the socio-economic development of the Zone.
When passed into law, the Commission shall be responsible for the construction of the critical economic infrastructure in the Zone, including roads, railways, bridges, Ports, research institutions, housing estates, airports, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, research institutes and hospitals/health care institutions.
It shall also be responsible for the capitalization and recapitalization of the business and empowerment Schemes for poverty alleviation; requirements for the re-activation of health, nutrition, agriculture, education and welfare services; requirements for the re-orientation of youth and out of school children including modernization of schools and educational institutions; develop a master plan based on the needs assessment of the Zone to be known as the North West Economic Development Master Plan.
According to the proponent of the bill, the Master Plan shall contain: Programmes and Schemes to promote and facilitate physical, socio-economic and industrial development of the North West Zone, and estimates of the time and costs of implementing such Programmes and Schemes; coordinate in accordance with set rules and regulations, Projects, Programmes and Schemes within the Master Plan for sustainable development in the areas of infrastructure, human capital, desertification, industrialization and social services and including health and nutrition, general education, science based education, water supply, agriculture, wealth creation and employment opportunities, urban and rural development and poverty alleviation.
In the bid to achieve its set objectives, the Commission is to liaise with Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, States and Development Partners on the implementation of all measures approved in the Master plan for the stabilization and development of the North West by the Federal Government; subject to the appropriation by the National Assembly, implement Project, Programmes and Schemes contained in the Master Plan but not captured by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, State Governments and Development Partners; identify factors inhibiting the development of the North West Zone and assist Member States and other stakeholders in the formulation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the Zone as well as assess the Report on any project being funded or carried out in the North West Zone by the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies or companies that have an Agreement with the Federal Government and ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilized.
The Commission is also empowered to: seek humanitarian, human, material, technical and financial support from partners (local and international) and non-governmental organizations with a view to developing the North West Zone; interface with the development partners (local and international) and non-governmental organizations to ensure synergy with other stakeholders in line with the Master Plan and act as the focal point to coordinate and harmonize all other intervention Projects, Programmes, Schemes and Initiatives that the Federal Government is involved with the North West Zone.