Nigeria Government on Thursday, May 27, 2021 called for collective efforts to tackle insecurity and environmental challenges in the Niger Basin.
The Chairman, Council of Ministers of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), Mr Suleiman Adamu, made the call at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Council in Abuja.
The NBA was created in November, 1980 with Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad as members. Its headquarters is in Niamey, Niger Republic.
According to him, it appears that same issues with the loss of livelihood support for inhabitants of the Lake Chad Basin was inherent in the Niger Basin axis, hence the need for climate resilience interventions to sustain the population.
He said member countries ought to speedy up the implementation of both the Climate Resilience Investment Plan (CRIP) and the operational plans to enable the population feel the impact of the NBA.
“While we are looking at Lake Chad as a major security and environmental issue, it appears that River Niger is also going the same way unfortunately.
“And it is quiet a wake up call for us all that we have a lot in our hands. Not only do we have to be dealing with similar issues in Chad Basin, but also in the River Niger.
“Cameroon, Niger and Chad for instance are members of the Lake Chad Basin Commision, in addition to Nigeria. So common problems, similar issues and collective efforts”.
Adamu, who is the Minister of Water Resources, noted that NBA was able to reach consensus on construction of upstream dams in Niger and in Guinea, saying deliberations were ongoing on potential impact of the projects.
He noted that such progress was evident with the construction of a flood observatory post which gave early warnings on annual floods in River Niger.
This, the minister said, had seen an awareness on alerting emergency services on potentials of flood in the Niger Basin area and for the benefit of the member countries.
Adamu said Nigeria spearheaded the initiation of the construction of a new NBA headquarters, urging member countries to put in money to fund its construction.
He said Niger and Benin Republic had paid their contributions in full, saying Nigeria has however also paid its contribution partially.
“COVID has done a lot of havoc to the NBA progress. We made two attempts to hold this summit and even the ability of member countries to pay their contributions has made a lot of hardship for some.
“In fact, we had to have an emergency measure to reduce the operational budget of NBA by 40 per cent, because member countries were finding it difficult to make payment.
“I am confident that all the nine countries are equally capable of running the affairs of NBA.”
The Executive Secretary of the NBA, Mr Abderahim Bireme, said the security situation required that member countries intensified efforts for effective and efficient implementation of programmes that promote access to jobs and sustainable income generating activities.
Bireme noted that with the rehabilitation of Jebba and Kainji dams in Nigeria, there was need to maintain the spirit of shared vision to concretise the construction of more infrastructure like the Fomi dam in Guniea, Taoussa dam in Mali among others.
“The construction of these works will significantly improve the living conditions of our people, we will be able to value the water resource in the areas of agriculture, livestock, fisheries, energy and river transportation”.
The executive secretary commended some member countries for their efforts in payment of their financial contributions, saying this had led to an increase in fortune and improved regional and international cooperation.
The Niger Basin, like other river basins in the subregion, is experiencing a degradation of its natural resources related to the combined effects of climate change and pressure of growing populations.
The extraordinary meeting brought to end the 5-year tenure of Nigeria as chairman of heads of states of the NBA.
By Tosin Kolade