IN an effort to revive the drying Lake Chad Basin, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, called for more political will and determination from the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) member countries.
The Lake, which was the 6th largest in the world, has reportedly shrunk to about 90 percent as a result of climate change.
The President spoke, at the high-level session of the international conference on Lake Chad in Abuja.
He affirmed that the Lake, which once stood as a source of livelihood to over 45 million people living within the Basin has deteriorated, giving way to different social vices.
“We must treat the issues of the Lake Chad with the urgency they deserve and show the needed political commitment towards reviving the Lake.
“Together let us share this mission of rescuing the Lake Chad Basin with a renewed vigour, determination and international collaboration as our inaction or delay will continue to accelerate the deteriorating standard of living of millions of our people with dire consequences on our continent and the World at large,” he said.
He explained that despite several measures put in place by the Federal Government(FG) to cushion the effect of this on people living in the region, the challenge still remains unresolved.
“We are also implementing all LCBC aimed at safeguarding the ecosystem of the Basin and the development of our people. Likewise, the Government of Nigeria has initiated several measures to cushion the plight of the people living on Nigeria’s side of the Basin. Notably, among these include:
“The Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE); North East Recovery and Peace Building Assessment in Collaboration with World Bank, EU, and UN; and the North East Development Commission (NEDC) recently established by law.
“Unfortunately, the major challenges facing the Lake Chad region still remain unresolved. Our desire as a nation to restore the sub-region to its former glory is very real as evident in my numerous appeals to the international community for support towards the Lake’s revival,” he said.
While quoting from the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports, he said food security has deteriorated, with more than 7 million people in the sub-region facing the threat of famine and half a million children suffering from severe malnutrition.
“Fish varieties are long gone leaving the fishermen jobless, farmers and herdsmen struggle over the little water left, herdsmen migrate in search of greener pastures resulting in conflicts.
“Our youths are joining terrorist groups because of lack of jobs and difficult economic conditions. This has resulted in serious instability in the sub-region.The negative effects of the shrinkage of Lake Chad are indeed enormous.
However, he commended efforts so far taken by Presidents and Heads of Government of the LCBC as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific Cultural Organisation(UNESCO) to tackle shrinkage of the Lake.
“This International Conference was designed with a view to finding workable solutions in resuscitating the Lake Chad to the benefit of all member countries of the LCBC and to the ecological balance of a large area of West Africa.
“I am convinced that this Conference will not just be another ‘talk shop’ but will be a platform to re-launch our partnership and commitment to our continent and the Basin in particular.
“ Let Abuja be the starting point of this commitment and we will call this “The Abuja Declaration.” Abuja Declaration will be a benchmark and the bedrock upon which future engagements on restoring the Lake would be built.
“It will also serve as a fundamental and landmark document which will contain basic principles that can be used as a yardstick for holistic development model for the Basin,” he added.
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