Chad Map

It has been revealed that about $14.5 billion will be required for a project to divert a river to be emptied into Lake Chad to save it from extinction.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria on Monday received an environmental audit report on the drying Lake Chad from the Auditor- General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, but not without questioning the non-inclusion of $5 million said to have been released for lake’s study in the report.

At the presentation of the report atat the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja Buhari recalled that the $5 million was released for the study on how to divert rivers from the Central Africa Republic to the drying Lake Chad.

He said: “I have to digress here based on personal knowledge of this. I saw an article in the journal of National Demographic in 1978 that a professor in the University of London in 1925 has foreseen what we are just seeing.

“I handed over the article to Gen. Obasanjo and I understand that Gen. Obasanjo took the initiative sometimes ago, it is on record that he is the only Nigerian that has presided over the country for more than 11 years.

“He gave $5 million to the study, and the study was that unless some of the rivers from the Central Africa Republic are diverted to empty into Chad Basin, Lake Chad will dry up.

“I understand that this report which was sponsored by Nigeria has been submitted. I am a bit disappointed that in the speech of the Auditor-General, there was no mention of this report whether my own report was correct: that $5 million was given.

“One of the recommendations was that at the time the report was submitted , the cost of diverting one of the rivers to empty into Lake Chad would be between $13 billion and $15 billion.

“I will like the Auditor-General to comment on this, whether they have received this report or the Ministry of Water Resources. I think this government will like to see this report and see how we can ask of foreign friends how they can help us.

“This is because if that river is diverted to empty into Chad Basin, I think it will affect at least, two million Nigerians and another two million from Cameroon, Chad and Niger to resettle and perhaps that will help us to stop Boko Haram around that area.

“This is  because what we identified the enormous number of people there and their activities. We have to check desertification there.” He said

Ukura explained that the report was not made available to the group, but only made available to the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

The Commission, he said, will be in a better position to comment on the $5 million released for the study.

A representative of the Commission, Sanusi Abdullahi, explained that the study had been completed while the cost estimate for the project was $14.5 billion

He said: “The report is a public document actually, it has been in the public domain since the study was concluded. Departments of government of Nigeria and other member states have received copies.

“The situation is that the study had been completed. The cost estimate for the project is $14.5 billion. We have been consulting the Congo Basin to allay their fears on the environmental impact assessment they want us to add and we need some additional political support to be able to convince them that it is also in their interest to see that this water is diverted to Lake Chad.

“We have made effort with the Champion of Save Lake Chad, former President Obasanjo to sensitize the international community, particular Europe whom we perceived have some unfriendly attitude towards the transfer.”

In his speech earlier, President Buhari acknowledged the wisdom of the first African leaders who bequeathed the platform of the Lake Chad commission for cooperation among the neighbours.

He said: “I want to commend the resolution of the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institution working group on environmental auditing which led to the environmental audit on the drying up of the Lake Chad.

“This assignment was carried out by Lake Chad Basin  member countries comprising the Supreme state audit services of Cameroun, the Court of Auditors services of Chad, the Court of Auditors of Niger and office of the Auditor-General for the Federation of Nigeria.

“As a member of the Lake Chad Basin Commission summit of Heads of States and Government, the government of Nigeria has been giving maximum support to the Lake Chad Basin Commission to ensure the discharge of its mandates.

“In addition to funding the Lake Chad commission ordinary budget through the funding formular to which Nigeria contributes 40 percent, Niger 7 percent,  Libya 18 percent, Chad 11 percent and Cameroun 20 percent and Central African Republic 4 percent, our government is committed to offer effective leadership in the fight against insurgency and other environmental needs of the Sahel region.”

“Since the audit report has been fully submitted, to the Lake Chad Basin Commission Heads of States and Government, we will ensure that recommendations are considered for implementation. I am aware that the Lake Chad Basin water charter which was adopted by the Heads of States and Government summit on April 30th 2012 has not been approved by the National Assembly.”

He therefore urged the National Assembly to domestic the report.

He added: “I am proud to note the existence of the summit of governors Hadeja Jama’are, Kumadugu Yobe Basin Trust Fund from Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Jigawa, Kano and Plateau State. It was established on 8th June with take off grant of N100 million from each of these states with Federal Government matching grant of N850 million.

“I hope to strengthen the platform to ensure sustainable and equitable water resources management based on integrated industrial principles. I acknowledge that the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation could carry out effective re-organization to perform specialised audit based on international best practices without sufficient funds.”

He promised that he would do everything possible to ensure its success.

Delivering his presentation earlier, Ukura noted that there was a strong correlation between the shrinking Lake Chad and insecurity in the North East of Nigeria.

He said: “The management of trans-boundary water resources is one of the most important water issues today because a total of 261 rivers are shared by two or more countries.

“It is believed that part of the root causes of violence and instability in the Lake Chad Basin high has not been adequately addressed is the crucial issue of weak water resources management which led to scarcity of water.

“A significant part of the increasing population from 30 to about 47 million had to move south in search of alternative livelihoods. Millions of fishing and pastoralist population are worst affected by the shrinking Lake Chad.

“Recent insurgent activities in North Eastern Nigeria have also led to thousands of people fleeing the North East region of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and towards the Southern part of Nigeria.

“The key message of the National Audit Report of Nigeria is that Lake Chad is drying up very fast from 25,000 in 1963 to just 1,500 as at present. We must save Lake Chad from extinction.

Key findings, according to him, included weak control of human activities on the issue of water resources in the Lake Chad Basin, water resources management decisions were not based on water use data, water use regulations exist but not enforced in the Lake Chad Basin, and arbitrary construction of dams without impact assessment.

By Pita Ochai


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