By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday passed through second reading a bill to amend the Border Communities Development Agency Act, 2004, to enlarge the scope of its coverage; and related matters.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Kolawole Lawal (APM, Ogun) in his lead debate on the general principles argued that as an interventionist agency set up principally to provide the much needed infrastructure in border communities thereby bringing development to the people and making their lives more meaningful.
He said “the bill seeks to amend certain sections of the Border Communities Development Agency Act, to among other things, enlarge the agency’s scope of coverage and further strengthen it to operate more effectively.
Continuing, he explained that the bill comprises 10 Clauses adding that in “ Clause 2, the bill seeks to amend Section 2 of the Principal Act by reducing membership of the governing board and restricting membership to only relevant persons and agencies of government.
“Clause 3 of the Bill proposes to amend Section 5 of the Act by providing that the Executive Secretary of the Agency is an indigene of a border community”.
Lawal stressed that “ this is to ensure that persons with better understanding of the challenges facing border communities are at the helm of affairs”
According to him, ‘Clause 4 seeks to correct an obvious duplication of functions in Section 6 of the Act as Section 5 already provides for the appointment of an Executive Secretary”
He insisted that for the Agency to perform optimally and effectively, its financial viability must be seriously improved explaining that “Clause 6 proposes to amend Section 9 of the Act by introducing new paragraphs to make ample and robust funding provisions for the mandate and activities of the Agency”.
The lawmaker noted that “this will enable the Agency succeed in the provision of the much needed infrastructure to the 103 local government areas, 3,000 border communities in the 21 border states, the estimated population of which is over 22 million people.
“Majority of border communities dwellers live in abject poverty, deplorable conditions and face a dire need of infrastructural amenities that make life meaningful.
“For the Agency to have considerable impact in these communities, it cannot be over emphasised that a more sustainable source of funding is required.
“It is therefore proposed that 30% of the Federal Government share of the Ecological Fund and 0.5% of the total revenue allocation due to the Federal Government be deducted at source in favour of the Agency”
The bill was passed unanimously after Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put it to vote.