President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja stressed the need for political commitment towards reviving the Lake Chad Basin.
Speaking at the ongoing International Conference on Saving the Lake Chad, Buhari also called for collective efforts toward rescuing the Lake Chad Basin with a renewed vigor, determination and international collaboration.
“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 vigor, 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.
“The time to act is now. The time to bail out the region is now. The time to show our humanity is now,’’ he said.
Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to restore the Lake Chad to its former glory as the conference was designed with a view to finding workable solutions in resuscitating the Lake Chad.
He said that the resuscitation would benefit all member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the ecological balance of a large area of West Africa.
He noted that in the past two days, there had 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.
“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.
“The Conference Report will be presented shortly and I urge you to consider it critically with a view to making informed and strong contributions towards its implementation.
“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.
According to him, the Declaration 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.
The President maintained that such a model would be useful especially for policy and decision makers, Development partners, Donors Agencies, Investors, Researchers and Institutions.
Buhari thanked the Presidents and Heads of State and Government of LCBC Member Countries – Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Niger- for their contributions to the development of the Basin.
He also appreciated the efforts and immense technical support of the United Nations (UN) and its Agencies including FAO, UNDP, UNEP and UNESCO for their invaluable contributions towards the Integrated Water Resources Management of the Basin and the organization of the conference.
He lauded the African Development Bank, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and China-Exim Bank for their support in promoting the socio-economic well-beings of the member countries of the LCBC.
“The African Union, the European Union, ECOWAS, ECCAS, have also contributed immensely to the sustainable development of the sub-region.
“We are also indebted to the governments of Netherlands, Hungary, France, China, Italy, Japan, United States of America, Canada and Britain,’’ the president added.
While recognizing that the efforts of the member countries of the LCBC will be more productive with international support, Buhari called on the International Partners (Technical and Financial) to remain unwavering in their support.
In her remarks, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, reiterated the determination of the organization to continue to assist and support the LCBC and the Congo Basin in addressing their various challenges and als safeguarding the environment.
Azoulay, who was represented by UNESCO’s Deputy Director General, Mr Getachew Engida, used the opportunity to condemn the abduction of schoolgirls from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe.
She pledged the organisation’s support and solidarity to Nigeria for their safe release.
The goodwill messages were delivered at the occasion by Presidents and Heads of Government, representatives of Presidents of the African Union, ECOWAS, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the African Development Bank.
Five Presidents including Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria; Mahammadou Issoufu of Niger Republic; Idriss Debby Itno of Chad, Faustin-Archange Touaderae of Central African Republic and Ali Bongo of Gabon as well as Prime Minister of Cameroon, Mr Philemon Yang with representatives from Sudan and Angola are attending the conference. (NAN)