Rumbles over plan to create desertification agency

In spite of the uproar and dissenting voices raised against a plan to establish another desertification agency in the country, members of the House of Representatives are fast-tracking a process that will lead to the establishment of another agency of government charged with the responsibility of desertification, erosion and flood.
A cross section of stakeholders who spoke to Daily Trust on the move said it would lead to duplication of agencies, a situation the present administration is working hard to reduce.
The lower chamber, on December 16, debated extensively and subsequently passed into second reading a bill towards the establishment of the agency.
However, this is coming barely nine months after the National Assembly established a prototype National Agency for the Great Green Wall, as part of the domestication process by Nigeria to tackle encroaching desertification in the country.
But the new bill, sponsored by Rep Hassan A. Omale, said the desertification, erosion, flood and ecological control agency differs with the Great Green Wall, as this one would cover wider areas under threat in the country.
He said while the Great Green Wall agency focuses on desertification mostly in the northern part of the country, the new agency would oversee and tackle the menace holistically.
The bill however, faced a number of opposition over its similarity with Green Wall agency.
Rep Simon Arabo (PDP, Kaduna) said passing the new bill for the establishment of the agency would amount to duplication by the same House that passed similar bill recently.
He said the sponsor of the bill, ought to have propose an amendment to the Green Wall Agency Act, with a view to incorporating wider spectrum, instead of coming up with a fresh bill.
But after a lengthy debate, both for and against, speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara said the bill deserved to scale through to second reading.
Dogara said grey areas and other concerns raised by members should be taken care of by the relevant committees during their public hearings and advise the House whether to go ahead with the new bill, or amend the Green Wall agency’s Act.       

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