Senate has sought for the establishment of an agency to carter for rural development.
A bill to this effect, titled, “National Integrated Community Development Agency Bill,” sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (PDP Anambra North), has passed second reading on the floor of the upper legislative chamber.
Leading debate on the Bill, Senator Oduah explained that rural integrated development involves a coordinated program that requires integrating the developmental challenges that rural people face to help improve their living conditions in a sustainable manner so as to touch every aspect of their lives.
“A rural village in Africa faces interrelated problems that affect all aspect of their lives. The needs for clean water, electricity, good health care, good roads etc. are uniformly visible in our rural communities.
“The very essence of this important bill is the extension of the change culture of government into rural area so as to make our rural dwellers have a feel of governance,” she said.
The lawmaker further explained that the major significant indices for measuring the level of socio-economic growth and success of any nation lies in the level of growth at the rural areas and the Agency which the Bill sought to establish, will help the nation meet the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs and sustainable human development rights among the rural communities in line with the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS.
“The major objectives of this bill is to give our rural areas a boost in terms of infrastructural development, as well as the improvement of their living standard, these will be achieved through the establishment of the Agency with the specific function of fostering community environmental and ecological sustainability,” she said.
Senator Oduah added that “over two thirds of Nigeria’s population resides in rural areas. Increasingly, poverty in the country is wearing a rural face. From 28.3% in 1980, poverty among the rural population grew to 51.4% in 1985, has since risen to 69.8% in 1996.”
The agency, which the bill sought to establish, according to the Senate, “will evolve and implement policies and programmes in the areas of self-sufficiency in food and fibre, enhancement of community productive activities, income generation, employment opportunities, reduction of community-urban migration, poverty eradication and ultimately mainstreaming the community dwellers into national development and as well
“Collaborate with federal government ministries and agencies, international development partners, state governments, local governments and local communities, private and public sector organizations/ institutions, enterprises and individuals for the purpose of harnessing and coordinating resources for implementation of community development programmes and projects.
“Mobilize and empower the community population to create wealth through increased agricultural, industrial and other productive activities.
“Promote the expansion of the productive base of the community economy through the creation and expansion of non-agricultural enterprises,
“Provide community support services needed to bring about increased production of goods and services and provide access to extension services, inputs, credit and marketing services, and to raise community productivity in general.
“Establish an integrated network of cottage and small scale industries, and promote the acquisition of vocational and trade skills, arts and crafts;
“Improve the human resource and technological capacity of commumty communities through education, training, extension and technical support services that facilitate the adoption of relevant technology by community producers.”
Aside Senator James Manager, who kicked against establishment of more agencies, other senators, who contributed on the debate supported the Bill.
The Bill was, however, referred to the Senate Committee on Agric and Rural Development and to be submitted in four weeks.
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