President Muhammadu Buhari called for global support to develop the resources in the Niger Basin area – home to over 160 million people who depend on the river as a means of sustenance.
He made the call on Thursday in Abuja when he declared open the virtual 12th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA).
The President believes the Niger River, commonly called Djoliba in Guinea and Mali, offers enormous development opportunities in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, fish farming, hydropower, hydraulics and navigation.
“It is, therefore, necessary to continue to promote its enormous potential for the benefit of our people, and to improve the socio-economic development of the region,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina.
President Buhari commended technical and financial partners, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), Global Environment Fund (GEF), and German Financial Cooperation (KFW), for identifying with the vision and projects of the authority.
He urged them to continue to support efforts at developing the Niger Basin in the fight against pollution and the degradation of ecosystems, in order to manage its resources in a sustainable and equitable manner.
The President, who is the outgoing Chairman of the NBA Leaders’ Summit, used the occasion to give an account of his five-year stewardship, piloting the affairs of the institution.
He said, “Excellencies, it has been a privilege to lead this Summit of Heads of State and Government for the past five years, since you all unanimously endorsed me as the Chairman at the 11th Summit held in Cotonou, Benin Republic on 8th January 2016 to lead our common institution.
“Of the several decisions taken at the summit, only the decision on funding of the NBA 2016-2024 Operational Plan is yet to be fully implemented.”
“It is pertinent to note that there are some ongoing programmes like support to Ground Water Management in Niger Basin (AGES), project II to strengthen NBA and its Member Countries’ technical capacity, and human resources for improving transboundary groundwater resource management in the Niger Basin,” the Nigerian leader added.
He also listed other ongoing programmes to include the integrated development and adaptation to climate change in the Niger Basin financed by the AfDB, GEF, KFW and NBA member-countries to improve the resilience of the Niger River ecosystems and populations through sustainable management of natural resources.
President Buhari explained that the climate change programme would cover the nine NBA member countries – Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad.
He commended all member countries for their unflinching efforts towards contributing to the construction of a befitting Headquarters for the NBA, noting with appreciation the commitments made so far.
“At this summit, my tenure as the Chairman Summit of Heads of State and Government of our common institution comes to an end as I will hand over to a new chairman.
“I urge you to extend maximum cooperation to the new chairman for the continued smooth running of our institution,” the President said.