Senate yesterday passed the Great Green Wall Bill for the establishment of an Act to Establish the National Agency for the Great Green Wall aimed at checking desertification and drought in certain parts of the country.
The bill passed the third reading after a clause-by-clause consideration on it led by the Senate President, David Mark.
Mark, who expressed the hope that it would be signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan before he leaves office on Friday, stressed the need for the agency to effectively carry out its task when established.
“I hope the agency when established will do what this bill has asked it to do in practical terms. It must be on ground to what it ought to do,’’ he said.
Contributing to the debate, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, said that the establishment of the agency would help to tackle the problem of drought and desertification, among others in the country.
He said climate change was one of the world’s most formidable challenges, posing serious threat to global stability in view of its negative impact on the physical, biological and social environment.
According to him, about 2,168 square kilometres of rangeland and crop land were being lost yearly in the country, thereby inducing forced migration, rural poverty and social conflicts, stressing that that if the rampaging desertification was not controlled, the socioeconomic consequences would be disastrous for Nigerians.
He said: “About 43 percent of Nigeria’s total land area is under the threat of desertification with serious implication for food security, sustainable livelihood and social security of the affected communities of over 40 million people.
“Currently, 11 countries are involved in the programme and the thrust is to provide a green wall of trees or shelterbelts from Kebbi State to Borno State, a distance of 1,500 kilometres.
“This is to wedge the southward expansion of Sahara Desert and improve land productivity.
“The programme further involves provision of water for irrigation, domestic and animal consumption and promotion of alternative means of livelihood to enhance rural economy and create job opportunities,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Senator Ali Ndume, noted that desertification had become a threat to the corporate existence of the country and the passage of the bill had become imperative.
Ndume said there was an urgent need to pass the bill, adding that the problem that affects one’s neighbour affects him too and a threat to one is threat to all.
He said: “Some states in the country, which were hitherto not affected by drought and other effects of desertification are being threatened by desertification which runs across 11 states in the North; states like Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe are now threatened.
Senator Smart Adeyemi said the creation of the agency would provide jobs, adding that the bill would help to combat unemployment.

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