President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that a Lake Chad report submitted in 1920 be reviewed to salvage the lake from drying up, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Fatimah Mede, said Tuesday.
Lake Chad is largest lake in the Chad Basin, and is located mainly in the far west of Chad which shares a border with north-eastern Nigeria.
It is economically important, providing water to over 68 million people living in four countries surrounding it, namely, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria.
Ms. Mede told journalists that the president gave the directive following his concern that Lake Chad has receded from 33,000 square kilometres about two decades ago to just 300 square kilometres.
The president, Ms. Mede said, complained that the receding lake is adversely affecting the livelihood of those whose economic activities are directly linked to it.
“So he has directed that we should go and look at the report that was submitted in 1920 about how to prevent Lake Chad from drying up, so that the communities around, even border communities, including the countries benefitting from activities of fishermen and livelihood based on Lake Chad, are not affected.
The president also called for the promotion of Liquefied Petroleum Gas to curb the continuous felling of trees used as firewood for cooking.
“He has directed that we should bring up that report immediately and see how we can promote the use of LPG to reduce the rate at which trees are being cut down,” Ms. Mede said.
She said over 43 per cent of Nigerians are currently affected by desertification and this has continued to breed conflict between the herdsmen and farmers because of migration and having to move away from the dessert to the South West where they can get grass to feed the animals.
“For instance if everybody in Abuja is using LPG gas to cook, the rate at which people cut down wood to sell will be reduced,” she said.
On the clean cook stove initiative, the Permanent Secretary said the contractor had taken the government to court seeking an injunction to prevent the government from terminating the contract.
The clean stove initiative was launched by Vice President Namadi Sambo, in the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
He had said the stoves will reduce carbon emission in the country and also boost job creation and reduce smoke-related diseases.
However, the Federal Ministry of Environment terminated the controversial project, initiated by the former Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The ministry had said the German contractor who was given three months to supply 750,000 units of the stove and 18,000 wonder bags under the project had failed on his part to deliver the items.
Ms. Mede also noted that N5 billion had been released to the Ministry by the government and N1.3billion had been paid to the contractor, and the balance of N3.7billion had also been kept untouched.
“We will go there and argue our case, the government will go. We have briefed the attorney general’s office. We will present our case and the court will decide,” she told journalists at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
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