By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has called for global support to develop the resources in the Niger Basin area.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Niger Basin area hosts over 160 million people who depend on the River as a means of sustenance and survival.
The Nigerian leader made the call while declaring open the virtual 12th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), in Abuja on Thursday.
According to the president, the Niger River commonly called Djoliba in Guinea and Mali, offers enormous development opportunities in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, fish farming, hydro-power, 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 said.
Buhari expressed appreciation to Technical and Financial Partners, including African Development Bank (AfDB), the Global Environment Fund (GEF), the 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.
Buhari, who is the outgoing Chairman of the NBA Leaders’ Summit, also used the occasion to give account of his five-year stewardship, piloting the affairs of the institution.
‘‘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 Jan. 8, 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 on-going 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 trans-boundary groundwater resource management in the Niger Basin, ’’ he said.
The President also listed other on-going programmes to include the Integrated Development and Adaptation to Climate Change in Niger Basin financed by the AfDB, GEF, KFW and NBA Member Countries to improve the resilience of the Niger River ecosystems and populations through a sustainable management of natural resources.
The Nigerian leader explained that the climate change programme would cover the nine NBA member-countries- Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad.
“It should be noted, to our collective delight that these achievements were only possible with your active support.
‘‘It is also my pleasure to tell this meeting that there is an improvement in our organization’s financial status as member countries are striving hard to pay their annual contributions in a timely manner,’’ he said.
The President also 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.
On behalf of member countries, President Buhari while thanking the outgoing Executive Secretary, Mr Abderahim Bireme Hamid, for serving the Authority noted that the 12th Summit is expected to appoint a new Executive Secretary and a Chairman.
‘‘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 continued smooth running of our Institution,’’ he said. (NAN)