Buhari Faults Auditor-General’s Report On Shrinking Lake Chad | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari Faults Auditor-General’s Report On Shrinking Lake Chad

Posted: Oct 12, 2015 at 6:18 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

…Demands Input From Obasanjo Tenure?

By Chesa Chesa, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday picked holes in the environmental audit report presented to him by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, concerning the shrinking of the Lake Chad.

During the presentation ceremony at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, ?the President observed that the report did not reflect the feasibility study carried out during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and for which Nigeria committed about $5m.

He therefore demanded an immediate explanation from Ukura, who said he was not aware of the report.

Buhari said: “I have to digress here based on personal knowledge of this. I saw an article in a journal in 1978 that a professor in the University of London in 1925 had foreseen what we are just seeing.

“I handed over the article to Gen. Obasanjo and I understand that Gen. Obasanjo took the initiative sometime ago, it is on record that he is the only Nigerian that has presided over the country for more than 11 years.

“He gave $5million to the study, and the study was that unless some of the rivers from the Central Africa Republic are diverted to empty into Chad Basin, Lake Chad will dry up.

“I understand that this report which was sponsored by Nigeria has been submitted. I am a bit disappointed that in the speech of the Auditor-General, there was no mention of this report, whether my own report was correct that $5million was given.”

Ukura in his response claimed that the feasibility report was not made available to him for the purpose of the audit report, and swiftly passed the buck to the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) as the agency that ought to be custodian of that report.

A stunned President still asked that someone should interprete what he meant, and later asked the Executive Secretary of the LCBC, Sanusi Imran Abdullahi, to give his side of the story.

Abdullahi explained that the document in question, which detailed a solution to involve the diversion of a river in East Africa to Lake Chad, was already in the public domain.

According to him: “The report is a public document actually, it has been in the public domain since the study was concluded. Departments of government of Nigeria and other member states have received copies.

“The situation is that the study had been completed. The cost estimate for the project is $14.5billion . We have been consulting the Congo Basin to allay their fears on the environmental impact assessment they want us to add and we need some additional political support to be able to convince them that it is also in their interest to see that this water is diverted to Lake Chad.

“We have made effort with the Champion of ‘Save Lake Chad’, former President Obasanjo, to sensitize the international community, particularly Europe whom we perceived have some unfriendly attitude towards the transfer.”?

Buhari noted that “if that river is diverted to empty into Chad Basin, I think it will affect at least, two million Nigerians and another two million from Cameroon, Chad and Niger to resettle and perhaps that will help us to stop Boko Haram around that area.”

Buhari also urged the National Assembly to expedite action with a view to ratifing the Lake Chad Water Charter, which was adopted by the Heads of States and Government of Lake Chad Basin Commission summit on April 30th, 2012.

He also stated that Nigeria remained committed to leading the war against insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin and would not waver in her support to the commission.

Meanwhile, the Auditor-General’s report that the shrinking of Lake Chad is part of the cause of the current insecurity in North East of Nigeria.

“It is believed that part of the root causes of violence and insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin which has not been adequately addressed is the crucial issue of weak water resources management which led to scarcity of water.

“A significant part of the increasing population from 30 to about 47 million had to move south  in search of alternative livelihoods.

“Millions of fishing and pastorialist population are worse affected by the shrinking Lake Chad,” Ukura submitted.

He listed key findings of the report to include weak control of human activities on the issue of water resources in the Lake Chad Basin such as excessive extraction of water, dam constructions, diversions of rivers.

Others are that water resources management decisions were not based on water use data even as water use regulations exist but not enforced in the Lake Chad Basin, among others. ?