President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed the incessant herdsmen, farmers’ clashes across the country to the drying up of Lake Chad.
He stated this at the Lake Chad International Conference in Abuja.
This Lake, which is one of the oldest Lakes in Africa, is shared by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
Addressing the participants at the conference drawn from countries within the region, Buhari lamented that Lake Chad which was formerly an “oasis in the desert”, a hub of economic activities and food security, is just a desert now.
According to the President, the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 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.
.He regretted that Fish varieties are long gone leaving the fishermen jobless, while farmers and herdsmen struggle over the little water left, as herdsmen migrate in search of greener pastures resulting in conflicts.
Buhari lamented that youth of the region are joining terrorist groups because of lack of jobs and difficult economic conditions. This has resulted in serious instability in the sub-region.
He said the negative effects of the shrinkage of Lake Chad were indeed enormous.
He however thanked the Presidents and Heads of Government of the Lake Chad Basin Countries (LCBC) for the measures so far taken to tackle the shrinkage of the Lake.
“We are also implementing all LCBC programmes 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);
“The 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.”
He noted unfortunately that the major challenges facing the Lake Chad region still remain unresolved, even as their 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.
“One of such appeals was made during my meeting with the Director-General of UNESCO – Ms. Irina Bokova on August 11, 2016. During that meeting, I requested for a partnership with UNESCO in the organization of an International Conference to reactivate and raise awareness for an international campaign to save the Lake Chad.
“UNESCO graciously accepted my request and a Communiqué was issued. One of the outcomes of the Communiqué is the organization of this Conference, so I must especially thank UNESCO for their support.
“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.
“ In the past two days, there have been technical sessions with delegates, experts, researchers and resource persons exchanging ideas, views, knowledge and sharing information on water resources development and management in a challenged environment.
“This is now being followed by this high level session to consider recommendations in order to garner political and global support for the restoration option identified for recharging of the Lake” he said.