A cross section of stakeholders have condemned Nigeria’s planned contribution of about $20 billion (out of $50 billion) budgeted for the draining and recharging of the drying Lake Chad.
A study set up by the Chad River Commission, in September 2016, had returned a report that if nothing urgent was done by 2018, the river would suffer more than 40 per cent recession in depth and width.
The commission, which has handed in a budget of $50 billion as the minimum cost of checking the pending draught on the sub regionally owned river, said Nigeria and Chad will share about 60 per cent of the bill before securing foreign help.
But it was learnt that Chad, which enjoys more than 70 per cent of the river, had appealed to Nigeria to raise the bulk of the money, given that country’s poor economy.
The donor agencies expected to contribute funds for the projects include the AfDB, World Bank and the European Environmental Watch Agency, among others.
Indications that Nigeria will contribute to the said money was given when the Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, confirmed that the governemt had set up a monitoring team that will be liaising with the Chad Basin Commission and other multi-regional bodies towards finding lasting solution to the crisis.
He said, “Allowing the river to dry up would have a lot of implications, including that of affecting human and natural habitats of all the neighbouring countrues in the area.”
But speaking on the issue, Michael Alomuo, an environmentalist, said: “Nobody can be against doing whatever is possible to ensure that rivers do not go dry, but the question is, given Nigeria’s present economic meltdown, can the country be subjected to any budgetary expenditure when so many recessions induced issues are begging for attention?
“As I speak, rivers Niger and Benue need to be drained and the proposal has been with the government with nothing done to that effect. Who is fooling who?”
Dr. Samuel Anoche, a business consultant, said the idea of Nigeria accepting to pay attention to Chad River is simply because policy makers have been intetested in exploring crude oil from the north eastern part of the country, despite the fact that the cost effect does nor favour such a move.
Anoche said there had been several moves in the past by the governemt to pay undue attention to the Chad Basin, including more than $5 bilion so far spent in the area in the past five years.
He disclosed that his former employer, Rudoff Marine, was one of the international firms that returned the report that it would be a waste of resources for Nigeria to go into oil exploration within the Chad Basin, given that counties in the Central Africa region had tried same without success.
Though opinions are against Nigeria spending money for recharging the Chad River, officials said there is no going back on the commitment.
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