The Global Rights, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has described lack of access to potable water as “the greatest threat” to Nigeria’s security. It has thus called for a holistic approach to water resource management in the country.
Ms Abiodun Baiyewu, Executive Director of Global Rights, made the assertion at a stakeholders’ engagement dialogue with the theme: “Contextualising Nigeria’s Resource Management in Mining and Energy Policies” held in Abuja.
She said that the call had become necessary because reduction in water levels in the country’s major dams posed a threat to national security.
Baiyewu said: “From all indications, this threat is already tearing at the very fabric of our nationhood with the many conflicts it is facilitating.
“The dramatic shrinking of Lake Chad to one-tenth its size in less than 40 years, shrinking of Goronyo Dam in Sokoto to one-tenth and shrinking of Kaduna River prove this.
“Also, River Niger and even River Benue; the literal overnight disappearance of the Kara market waterfront in Lagos are signs of the fate of this natural resource in Nigeria.”
She expressed concern over the impact of climate change on countries close to the equator including Nigeria, while noting the environmental devastation resulting from mining activities in some communities in Kogi and Gombe states.
The environmental activist identified the effects of climate change on the soil and water bodies in the North to include flooding, erosion and encroachment of the rivers.
She, however, stressed the need for urgent measures to be taken to guard against water pollution.
According to her, if the nation must protect our territorial integrity, she must therefore protect the water bodies.
Also speaking, Mr Musa Ibrahim, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, assured the participants that the ministry would take appropriate measures to ensure effective management of water resources in the country.
Represented by Mr Peter Nwakpa, an official in the Ministry, Ibrahim emphasised the need to ensure the sustainability of abundant water resources in the country.
According to him, the sustainability is threatened by land degradation, deforestation, rapid population growth, poor investment, as well as climate change.
Ibrahim said: “All of these have placed pressure on water resources of our country.”
According to him, the International Water Management Institute predicts that Nigeria may become water stressed between 2025 and 2050.
“As custodian of this most important national resource of our country, we will continue to ensure that the resources are protected, managed and controlled for the collective benefit of Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, Mr Otayitie Eminefo, Special Adviser on Power and Energy to Kogi State Governor, said that the state government would put measures in place to guard against unlawful mining activities.
According to him, Kogi would continue to do its best to protect water resources within communities of the state.
“We have established a media framework to sensitise mining companies and host communities to understand the dangers of water pollution.
“We will continue to put necessary measures in place to achieve the desired goal,” Eminefo said.
The high-point of the event was the power point presentation on contextualising water resource management in mining and energy policies by Mr Jaye Gaskia.
Global Rights is an international organisation that seeks to promote sustainable justice, human rights capacity-building and also to create awareness on dangers of human rights abuses.
By Fortune Abang