By Victoria Ojeme
The Border Communities Development Agency, BCDA has completed about 139 roads, bridges, market squares including water and sanitation facilities across Nigeria’s states with border communities between 2015 to 2018.
Data obtained by VANGUARD shows that North East Region with 35 projects is the highest beneficiary of the agency’s developmental projects followed by the North West at 33 and the South South at 30. The South West received 22 projects, the North Central 18 and the South East 1.
The South East zone has not border community according the geographical mapping of the country.
The Head of Public Affairs and Protocol at the BCDA, Sadiq Abdullahi Isa said that with over 2,000 border communities and all of them in need of roads, health care facilities, infrastructure for education, the agency’s intervention cut across both the social and economic sector of these communities.
He said “the social sector includes education, health, clean water, clean energy. Economic sector includes border market, agricultural activities, grants, poverty alleviation and empowerment programmes and to do all these, our major challenge is funding.”
“When you juxtapose the funding we have get from the federal government and what have been able to put on ground and the mandate itself, you now see that there is an imbalance and that was why I aid or major challenge is funding,” he said.
“It is to be noted that poverty, illiteracy, disease, unemployment and violence are rife in these areas, there is an apparent lack of most of the basic socio-economic infrastructure such as potable water, hospitals, schools, security posts etc. It is a fact that the people do cross over to the neighbouring countries to obtain the basic necessities of life. In fact, a lot of our children in the border communities speak French because they attend schools in our French speaking neighbouring countries,” explained.
According to Sadiq, the mandate of the agency is to provide basic physical infrastructures, poverty alleviation programmes to border communities which are spread across over 2,000 communities, over 155 local government areas within 21 states of the federation that have international boundaries.
He said the agency is working assiduously for the uplift of the lives of the people that lives within these border communities. “Over the years these are communities that have been neglected and how have they been neglected, have not been captured in the mainstream of development activities in the country,” he said.
“So going forward in strategising to implement the mandate of the agency we have to come up with so many plans that puts into consideration the source of our funding,” he said.
According to Sadiq, such plans include the social sector which includes education, health, clean water and clean energy. The economic includes border market, agricultural activities, grants, poverty alleviation and empowerment programmes and to achieve all these sustainable development goals, the major challenge of the agency is funding.
“When you juxtaposed the funding we have go from the federal government and what have been able to put on ground and the mandate itself, you now see that there is an imbalance and that was why I said our major challenge is funding,” he said.
Part of what the agency has been able to do is to look at different ways by which we can collaborate and partner either with border states, with our legislators especially legislators from border areas and the legislators form the border areas have been quite helpful and “I can tell you that there are border states that we have been able to collaborate and come together and initiate and jointly execute projects together.”
In Taraba state, the BCDA has been able with the government there to build a health care centre and a residential accommodation for the doctors and the nurses within that health care facility.
According to Sadiq, the security challenges experienced across the country is partly attributable to the porous nature of Nigerian borders but also the lack of opportunities for the youths in these border communities and equally the non-inclusion of these communities in the greater master plan that has to do with the development of the country.