Restoration of Lake Chad will stem security challenges in Northeast Nigeria – Committee

Nigeria has remained the largest contributor to the Lake Chad Basin Commission with about N2.4 billion in five years

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Ahmad Lawan, said on Monday that the restoration of Lake Chad would stem the security challenges in the North-East of Nigeria.

Mr. Lawan said this in Abuja at a “Global Joint Environmental Audit Team Meeting on the Dry up of Lake Chad’’.

The meeting was organised by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, in collaboration with GIZ, a German Development Partner.

According to Mr. Lawan, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria in 2012, is a step in the right direction to addressing the problem.

“We waited too long to take action on Lake Chad which was how it got to this deplorable condition of losing all the water; but now we must do everything possible to recharge Lake Chad.

“We want to see a Lake Chad that is revitalised so that the economic activities that were associated with the lake during the 60s and 70s will be brought back.

Mr. Lawan said that part of the reason Nigeria is insecure is because youth from that region are largely unemployed.

“So, recharging Lake Chad is one sure way to reversing the trend,” he said.

Mr. Lawan assured the audit team that the National Assembly would ensure that the report was implemented when completed.

In his remarks, the Auditor-General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, attributed the drying up of Lake Chad to climate change and human activities.

Mr. Ukura said that the development had resulted to the disappearance of fish, reduction of agro-pastoral and farming activities, resulting to a threat to regional stability.

The auditor-general noted that the drying up of the lake had also affected more than 30 million people whose source of livelihood depended on its existence.

“At the creation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) in 1964, the lake was over 25,000 Sq kms as against the current size of less than 2,000 Sq kms today.

“Several public outcries aimed at saving Lake Chad and promoting socio-economic development in the area were expressed through 14 summits of Heads of States and Governments and 58 sessions of Council of Ministers of the Riparian states.

“Consequently, the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) is implementing a five-year Investment Plan from 2013 to 2017 to implement a proposed water transfer project at an estimated cost of over 14.5 billion dollars,” he said.

Mr. Ukura said that so far, Nigeria had remained the largest contributor to LCBC with about N2.4 billion in five years.

Also speaking, Celestine Ankamtsene, the Director-General of the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI), said the main objective of the meeting was to allow the joint team to discuss the draft audit reports on Lake Chad.

“The standard documents on the development of a joint report shall be distributed to members of the Joint Audit Team and a comprehensive communication strategy of the report will be developed among other things,” he said.

In his remarks, Tassilo Von-Droste, a representative of GIZ which is handling the project, commended the affected countries for their commitment to ensure that the problem was addressed.

Mr. Von-Droste said that the findings from the audit would make up the reports which would be presented to the concerned countries.

He, however, urged stakeholders and Nigerians to support the project, adding that it was the only way to ensure the success of the project.

Representatives from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Canada, Kenya, Belgium, Morocco and Tanzania were present at the meeting.

The meeting continues on Tuesday.

(NAN)


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