The Federal Government has urged member nations of the Niger Basin Authority to pay up their contributions to enable the Authority to fulfil its mandate of improving the people’s lives.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, made the call on Friday at the opening of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) in Abuja.
He said that the call became necessary following the continued difficulty and inability of the Authority to meet the growing needs of the basin’s population,
While commending efforts of the member states, Adamu said that meeting the target of ensuring the integrated development of the Niger Basin in the areas of energy, agriculture, livestock, fishing, fish farming and forestry was paramount.
He said that one of the problems facing the Authority was the issue of delay in passing budgets in member countries, adding that even when deadlines were given, deadlines for passage of the national budgets might not be feasible.
“Luckily for Nigeria, we are not owing; we have lots of economic challenges as countries; many countries are members of many international organisations and they sometimes find it tough to pay their dues, based on the economic situations.
“And don’t forget that most of the members of the NBA are among the poorest countries; sometimes it is very difficult for them to make the payments, they are trying their best.
“But we must also appreciate that without these contributions, it’s going to be very difficult for the NBA Secretariat to execute its mandate,’’ he added.
Besides, Adamu noted that Nigeria had shown maximum commitment towards trans-boundary water activities through the implementation of programmes aimed at achieving the goal of effective regional cooperation and coexistence.
The Executive Secretary of NBA, Dr Abderahim Hamid, urged the member nations to show increased commitment towards the improvement of livelihoods, saying that member countries should go beyond mere rhetoric to take the needs of the region seriously.
He conceded that although the financial capability of the Authority was improving, there was a compelling need to manage all available resources for the improvement of the lives of the people of the region in a more pragmatic way.
Hamid said with the needed financial resources, the goal of using the basin’s resources to make structured investments in agriculture, livestock, fishing, energy, inland transportation projects would become a reality.
“For the last four years, the River Niger Basin is subjected to the degradation of its ecosystems, which today has reached the alert level. Besides, the consequences of the population growth and the effects of climate change are increasingly becoming alarming.’’
Hamid said that the Authority was putting some modalities in place to implement the Programme for the Integrated Development and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Niger Basin (PIDACC/NB) and the Programme for Developing Resilience to Climate Change (PDReCC).
These programmes, he added, would improve the resilience of communities in the nine member countries through sustainable management of natural resources and reduce silting processes so as to improve agricultural production.
He urged the meeting to review the issues critically in order to come up with workable recommendations that would facilitate efforts to boost climate resilience for improved livelihoods in the region.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the member countries of Niger Basin Authority are Nigeria, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Chad.
The overall population of the basin is approximately 130 million and 70 per cent of the inhabitants live in rural areas.