Senate passes bill to save border communities

The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill, which is aimed at bringing development to the nation’s border communities by strengthening the legal framework to provide additional source of funding for the Border Communities Development Agency.

The bill, tagged An Act to amend the Border Communities Development Agency Act, Cap B10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, was sponsored by Senator Olufemi Lanlehin (Accord Party, Oyo South).

The joint committee noted that the agency, in collaboration with the office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation, would identify settlements, villages and towns across 108 local government areas in 21 states that are 15 kilometres from the nation’s borders, for effective policing and massive development.

It listed the affected states to include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.

The bill proposed the deduction of at least 20 per cent from the Ecological Funds to tackle infrastructure decay and provide health facilities, schools and adequate security arrangements in all the affected communities.

Presenting the report of the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and that of Local Government Administration, the Chairman, Senator Umaru Dahiru explained that the agency would now be able to discharge its statutory mandate effectively.

According to him, the inhabitants of border communities will enjoy provision of basic amenities, such as safe drinking water, electricity, medical care and other infrastructure that would improve their living standards.

He said, “The bill also seeks to strengthen our borders so as to reduce the porous nature of our territorial boundaries in order to check incessant incidences of security challenges as well as human trafficking in the border region.

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