Friday, February 20, 2009, via Daily Trust (Nigeria): The Senate has taken steps at establishing the National Desertification Control Commission with the holding yesterday of a public hearing on desertification in the country aimed at putting finishing touches to the bill before it is passed into law.

Speaking at the one-day public hearing organised by Senate Joint Committees on Establishment and Environment, Senate President David Mark identified desertification as the most severe of all the environmental challenges facing the country hence the need for an agency to fully concentrate on the menace.

Mark, who was represented at the occasion by Senate Majority Whip, Mahmud Kanti Bello (PDP, Katsina North), said "almost every part of the country is characterised by one problem or the other. However, desertification in some views is undoubtedly the severest and most profound in terms of devastation, destruction and magnitude."

The Senate President said reports has shown that desert has overtaken about 1650 square kilometres of frontline states adding, "From knowledge, between 50 to 70 per cent of Yobe, Borno, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Adamawa States have been overtaken by desert. These states with a population of 42 million people, account for about 43 per cent of the country's land area….

Satellite image of Nigeria (thank you, NASA), showing the Sahara encroaching from the north

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