Senate seeks improved funding for border communities’ development

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigerian senate on Wednesday urged the federal government to improve funding of the Border Community Development Agency, while also mandating the 21 border states to dedicate 1.5 percent of consolidated revenue fund and 30 percent of ecological fund to the development of border communities.

It also directed its Committee on States and Local Government to carry out a holistic investigation on the level of compliance with the Act establishing the border communities development agency.

The Senate resolutions followed the consideration of a motion, on “The need to pay attention to the plight of border communities in Nigeria” and it was sponsored by Senator Sadiq Umar and 21 others.

Senator Umar, while presenting the motion, said “there exists a Border Community Development Agency (BCDA) established in 2003 by law to cater for the plight and development of border communities in Nigeria.”

He added that when the agency was founded, it had well spelt counterpart funding mechanism under the BCDA Act 2003 to ensure effective service delivery for the development of the border communities.

This, the lawmaker listed include 7.5 percent of the total revenue allocation due to the federal government deductible at source; 15 percent of the total monthly statutory allocation due to member states of the agency deductible at source; 55 percent of the monies due to member states of the agency from the ecological fund; and 10 percent of the monthly statutory allocation due to the border local government deductible at source.

Senator Umar explained that “deductions were made from these accounts even before the commencement of the commission without significant impact on the member states, local government and border communities”, adding that “this led to the border state governors’ protest and the subsequent amendments of the relevant section (Section 9) by the National Assembly in 2006.”

He therefore maintained that “the border communities are in dire need of development in the areas of infrastructure, health, education, water and access roads, but the BCDA has not been able to cater for the needs of these communities because of insufficient funding.”

The lawmaker cited the example of October 2009 when about 84 school children were drown in a river from Bukuro, a border community in Baruten local government in Kwara North while going to school in the neighbouring border community in Benin Republic.

In his contribution, Senator Isah Jibrin stressed the need for federal government to put in place an intervention fund to address the problems facing border communities in the country, which he noted are beyond the powers of state and local governments.