Senator Jibrin Barau Clarifies Purpose of Zonal Development Commissions

Posted by Declan Venter

Senator Jibrin Barau Clarifies Purpose of Zonal Development Commissions

Understanding the Zonal Development Commissions

Amid rising concerns and speculations, Senator Jibrin Barau has stepped forward to clarify the intentions behind the recent establishment of zonal development commissions. Serving as the Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Barau emphasized that these bodies are designed to solve distinct regional problems, not to reinstate a regional government system. The North West Development Commission, North Central Development Commission, South East Development Commission, and South West Development Commission are all at various legislative stages. Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Development Commission and the North East Development Commission are already fully operational after receiving presidential approval.

Senator Barau pointed out that the commissioning of these bodies stems from a genuine need to address challenges specific to each zone. The North East, for instance, has been battling the insidious impact of Boko Haram, while the Niger Delta faces its own unique set of environmental and social issues. These commissions are expected to channel resources, implement developmental projects, and provide structured responses to the region-specific needs of their respective areas.

Addressing Concerns of Regionalism

One of the critical concerns among Nigerians is the potential return to a regional form of government. Senator Barau was quick to dispel these fears, reassuring citizens that the commissions do not signal a shift back to regionalism. The purpose of these developments is about fostering regional growth within the frame of a united national government rather than fracturing the country into smaller, independent regions.

Barau elaborated that Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution remains the bedrock of governance and that these commissions must operate within the ambit of this directive. The Senator emphasized that there would be no deviation from the current federal structure, even as the Senate Committee on Constitution Review undertakes thorough amendments to reflect the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians nationwide.

Comprehensive Constitutional Review

Following the establishment of these zonal commissions, the process for reviewing the 1999 constitution has begun in earnest. The Senate Committee on Constitution Review has been holding public hearings and receiving memoranda from various societal segments. The goal is to ensure that the amendments reflect the will and needs of the Nigerian populace, allowing for a more inclusive and functional government system.

The committee is tasked with evaluating and aggregating the presentations received, considering numerous proposals that aim to address the nation’s pressing issues. Among the floated propositions is the possibility of adopting a parliamentary system of government, showcasing the Senate’s willingness to explore diverse forms of governance.

Justification for the North West Development Commission

Senator Barau highlighted the dire need for the North West Development Commission, a region plagued by relentless attacks from Boko Haram, bandits, and other violent insurgencies. Once known as the nation’s food basket, the North West has witnessed significant disruption in agricultural activities and overall livelihoods. Evident from this backdrop is the necessity for a dedicated body to rebuild, rehabilitate, and boost development within the region.

The Commission is expected to focus on reconstructing infrastructure, supporting displaced populations, and restoring economic activities by investing in agriculture and education. A structured approach led by the Commission could provide the much-needed stability and growth in the North West region, offering a glimmer of hope to its beleaguered communities.

Venues for Public Participation

Venues for Public Participation

It is noteworthy that the Senate, through public hearings and memoranda, is inviting the active participation of ordinary citizens, civil society groups, professionals, and other stakeholders. By democratizing this process, the Committee aims to ensure that all voices are heard and incorporated into the reformed legislative framework.

Senator Barau urged citizens to engage in the ongoing constitutional review process actively. The outcomes, he assured, will be reflective of the collective voice and aspirations of Nigerians. This open call for participation invites a richer diversity of opinions and proposals, enhancing the legitimacy and inclusiveness of the final amendments.

Anticipating Outcomes

While the legislative process unfolds, there is cautious optimism among Nigerians about the potential benefits of these zonal commissions. If successful, these bodies could present a model for targeted regional development that bridges the gap between disjointed local efforts and broader national policies.

That said, detailed planning, transparent governance, and rigorous oversight are essential to ensure that these commissions fulfill their mandates. The credibility and functionality of these bodies will be continuously scrutinized, requiring consistent performance to alleviate any residual doubts about their true intentions.

Ultimately, these commissions stand to transform the landscape of regional development in Nigeria. As they take root and begin executing their designated roles, there is hope that they will alleviate some of the pressing challenges faced by their communities, fostering a more balanced national growth trajectory.

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