By Victoria Ojeme
The Federal Government and United Nations Security Council, UNSC, are currently at daggers drawn over $1 billion pledge allegedly made by the former for Lake Chad at a humanitarian conference in Oslo, the Norwegian capital.
While the UNSC contend that Nigeria made the pledge and asked for its fulfillment, the federal government said there was no such pledge.
The UNSC had on Monday asked Nigeria to take the lead in paying up its pledge but the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said in Abuja yesterday: “There is no question of one billion dollar pledge that Nigeria has made in that respect. One billion dollar pledged for the Lake Chad is not correct.
“The sequence of the event is that there was a study to be done whether it was possible to recharge Lake Chad from the Central Africa.
“Some years ago, the government put in five million dollars for the study to be done and it has been done.’’
Onyeama, who noted that the study put the value of recharging Lake Chad at $15 billion, said: “Now, since the government came, we have got some other people to look at the study and there seems to be a lot of gaps.
“We are now looking at having a comprehensive feasibility study carried out and that is going to cost about $15 million to do.
“So the Minister of Water Resources and others are going to hold a kind of international donor conference to really start looking at what kind of financial support they can get. This is a huge sum of money and it is something we cannot afford.’’
He said government would decide the best way to raise the fund for recharging the Lake.
He said government might also be considering public private partnership, PPP, arrangement in terms of mobilising resources for the project.
“So we are moving in that direction but there is no question of one billion dollar pledge that Nigeria has made in that respect,” he said.