Wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha on Monday shunned a session of the Senate at a Public Hearing on the North East Development Commission Bill (NEDC), while chosing instead to attend the House of Representatives’ session on same subject matter. Both the Senate and House of Representatives were earlier scheduled to hold a Joint Public Hearing on North East Development Commission Bill (NEDC), whereas by a last minute change of plan, the House of Representatives pulled out and held its separate session. Aisha Buhari along with some Governors’ wives were in attendance when the session by the Representatives kicked off. Officials saddled with the task of organising the Senate’s joint session with the lower chamber disclosed that as at Friday last week, preparations were concluded for the joint session only for the House to back out on Sunday night. One of them said,
“The last minute withdrawal of the House from the earlier planned joint session on the NEDC Bill, arose from the decision of the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara , being an indigene from the North East, to participate fully at the public hearing and giving it all desired attention”. The incident may, however, not be unconnected with the stand-off between the Presidency and the Senate, anchored on the on-going trial by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
There have been clamours for Saraki’s removal from office on the basis of his alleged false declaration of assets on which he is being tried by the CCT, as the Presidency was fingered as the mastermind of the ordeals being currently faced by Saraki. However, the Director – General of the National Emergency Management Agency ( NEMA), Alhaji Sani Sidi disclosed at the Senate Public Hearing that no fewer than 800 repentant Boko Haram militants are currently undergoing vocational skills training in form of amnesty under the supervision of the office of the Chief of Defence Staff ( CDS).
The NEMA DG explained that the Programme under which repentant Boko Haram militants are being rehabilitated tagged: “ Safe Corridor Initiative”, was conceived purposely to provide a leeway for them to turn a new leaf. “It is not correct that the Federal government does not have a plan for repentant sect members. The Federal government has set up the safe corridor programme. I do know that over 800 sect members have been registered in it. “They have exited the Boko Haram militants through the programme in line with the International best practice. They are currently receiving various skills acquisitions programme, which is being handled by the military. It’s being by the Chief of Defence Staff”, he said.
He posited that restoration of formal education, sustainable agriculture, paternalism, infrastructural reconstruction, environmental protection and remediation for people of the North East should constitute the key focal areas of the North East Development Commission. In his own submission, Engineer Kaka Kyari Gujbawu stressed the need for the engagement of civilian JTF in government establishment. “With all the military myth, the help by the civilian JTF assisted in routing the sect. So there is need for government integration,” he said. In his address at the session, the Senate President Bukola Saraki said for 7 years, the people of North East have suffered untold destruction of both private and public properties worth billions of Naira, necessitating a Development Commission the bill is seeking for.