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BSHA passes archives law

By Sunday Iduh

Benue State House of Assembly has passed the Benue State Bureau of  Archives, Research and Documentation Bill, 2020.

This followed a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole Thursday, chaired by the Speaker, Titus Uba and its third reading by the Clerk, Dr Torese Agena.

The Majority Leader, Damian Cheme and Chairman, House Committee on  Rules and Business who led debate, presented the findings of the Committee to members and recommended that the bill be passed.

Cheme had informed members during the second reading saying, “in the course of over-sight visit, we discovered that the bureau which is meant to be the repository of the information of the government of Benue State and also charged with the core mandate of warehousing memorials, artefacts and cultural relics of the state has no enabling law, and therefore, has no legal status.”

He explained that the Bureau was established through the Benue State Executive Council Resolution of 22 February, 2012, adding that the absence of enabling law for the Bureau has denied it of receiving funding and other forms of support from donor agencies, such as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) among others.

With the passage, the Bureau is legally established by law and is expected to warehouse all historical information and records of the state for future reference.

According to the content of the bill,  the Bureau shall have a board, apart from the Director General, consisting of a Chairman, representative of Tiv Area Traditional Council, Idoma Area Traditional Council, Igede Area Traditional Council, who must be knowledgeable  in arts and culture, and if a Chief, must not be below the rank of a district head, representative of tertiary institution among others.

The board will also be saddled with the responsibility of initiating, designing, monitoring and evaluating programmes aimed at promoting archives, research and documentation, as well as maintenance of the utility of the state archives and other archival repository under its control among other roles.

The Speaker expressed appreciation to members for their resilience and the feat achieved, saying it was necessary to put things in proper perspective, to help our children and other people engaging in research to access materials, instead of running to other states.

Speaking with newsmen, shortly after the sitting, the Majority Leader, Damian Cheme described the passage as a major feat by the lawmakers, saying the Bureau has been in existence for about 40 years without a law backing its establishment.

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