By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Paris raised alarm, saying that about five million persons living in the countries within the lake chad basin risk displacement owing to the depletion of the lake.
President who addressed a high level meeting on “Climate Change Challenges and Solutions in Africa’’, at the on-going UN Climate Change Conference, COP 21, in France urged to the world leaders to contribute to the $14 b needed to revive the lake.
He also stated that most Nigerians living in that axis have lost their lands to the disaster.
The President said the shrinkage of Lake Chad, a former island sea, had resulted in increased social conflicts, high rates of migration and cross border movements.
“Nigeria has a large population of over 170 million people and in some parts of Northern Nigeria, a farm that used to belong to 10 people now belongs to over 100 people. They have no other place to live and no land for cultivation,’’ he said.
The President recalled the research conducted by a professor in a London university and published more than three decades ago had predicted that unless one or some of the rivers from the Central African region are diverted to empty into the Lake Chad basin, the river will dry up.
He noted that sadly that prediction has become reality as the lake which covers over 25,000 square kilometers in 1925 have shrunk to 2,500 square kilometers.
“The amount of resources required and the high technological expertise and infrastructure needed to be undertaken to revive the Lake Chad has to be mainly financed by the G7 and the United States.
“The cost is great and more than 14 billion dollars is needed to revive the Lake.
“But if that is achieved, at least five million people from Central African Republic to the Lake Chad Basin countries (Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin) will be rehabilitated.
“When this is done those who are daring to cross the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean to come to Europe will remain at home because they have land where they can cultivate and earn a respectable living,’’ he said.
A statement by the presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina stated that the president at the meeting attended by the French President, UN Secretary-General and several African leaders also announced Nigeria’s plan to huge natural resources domiciled in Nigeria, saying that although it has the challenges of requisite technological know-how to optimally explore them, it would appreciate international partnership to realize the potentials for commercial purposes.
While decrying the consequences of climate change Nigeria’s development, President Buhari however said his administration was ready to embrace several opportunities presented by the challenges posed by climate change.