The Bill for the conversion of the only state owned polytechnic; Abia State Polytechnic, Aba to University of Aba has scaled first reading in the Abia State House of Assembly.
This is even as another bill seeking for the establishment of Abia State University of Medical and Health Management Technology also passed first reading.
While the Bill (H.A.B 54) seeking for the conversion of Abia State Polytechnic to a university; “The University of Aba Bill, 2022”, was sponsored by the majority Leader of the House of Assembly, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, the Bill (H.A.B. 53) seeking for the establishment of Abia State University of Medical and Health Management Technology; “Abia State University of Medical and Health Management Technology Bill, 2022 was sponsored by Hon. Thomas Nkoro, members representing Obingwa East and West State Constituencies respectively.
The Bill (H.A.B. 36:) for a Law to provide for the Establishment, Operations and Functions of the Abia State Watershed Management Agency and for other Matters Related therewith” passed Second Reading in a motion passed by the majority leader of the House, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu and seconded by Hon Ginger Onwusibe (Isialangwa North) after the bill was put to vote.
In leading the debate,Hon Kelechi Onuzuruike representing Umuahia North State Constituency who is the sponsor of the Bill stated that as the World Bank hands off from funding erosion control activities under NEWMAP as a project, transiting to an AGENCY is a pre-condition to benefit from funding by the European investment bank for the next two years.
He maintained that the work of NEWMAP as assisted by the World Bank was a pilot programme through which the state must have built capacity for global best practices on erosion control methods, adding that with the Agency, the state will continue with work on over 300 identified gullies in the state that require government attention.
Continuing Hon. Onuzuruike said “as an agency, it will have the power to address all other forms of environmental degradation and be a one-stop point for all such interventions in the state.
“It will act as a statutory body that can go into liaison with other multilateral bodies globally to address challenges of environmental degradation.
“It will serve as a platform for capacity building of Abia state civil servants based on lessons learnt while operating as a project.
“As an agency, it will have the responsibility of addressing several cases of incipient gullies before they develop into large gullies that require very large sums of money to remediate.
Hon Jerry Uzosike of Umuahia South State Constituency in supporting the Bill, informed his colleagues that the World Bank recently announced that NEWMAP will close in the first quarter of 2022 and that for the state to continue enjoying the benefits of the agency, she needs to domesticate the NEWMAP Law.
In their separate contributions, Hon. Uzosike also said that the already trained staff of NEWMAP will be inherited by the about to be created state NEWMAP rather than allow them go back to the respective offices they were deployed from.
On his part, Hon Ginger Onwusibe of Isiala Ngwa North State Constituency also supporting the motion said anything that could be done to tackle erosion and other environmental issues in the state should be done expeditiously while Hon Nkoro Obingwa West State Constituency, also supported the Bill, saying watershed management is a process and not anything that should be done haphazardly but be backed by a Law.
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The Speaker, Rt. Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji said having listened to the arguments canvassed for the Bill, it becomes expedient to commit it, H.A.B. 36, to the Committee of the Whole.