The Federal Government on Tuesday told member countries of the Niger Basin Authority to pay their contributions in order to effectively develop the region, which currently has over 130 million people.
According to the government, the development of the Niger Basin cannot be achieved without adequate funding, as the livelihood of millions of residents of the region is at risk.
The NBA is an intergovernmental organisation in West Africa with the aim of fostering co-operation in managing and developing the resources of the basin of the River Niger.
The organisation is made up of nine-member countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian government at the technical experts’ meeting of the 36th ordinary session of the council of ministers of the NBA in Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, noted that climate change had dealt a severe blow to the region.
He said, “In fact, we cannot talk about the development of the Niger Basin and her regional institution unless we make available the financial resources needed in a timely manner for the work required. The repeated delays in the payment of member countries’ contributions have been identified as one of the major constraints in the operation of our institution.
“We must encourage the technical and financial partners by ensuring that adequate funding is made available for the operations of the institution. The wellbeing of the people depends on it.”
Suleiman, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Musa Ibrahim, told delegates at the event that “the Niger Basin area is rich in its diversity and has a population of more than 130 million inhabitants. However, this wealth is facing many challenges.”
In his address, the Coordinator, NBA National Focal Structure Nigeria, Paul Adalikwu, commended the contributions of the Federal Government to supporting trans-boundary activities, noting that this showed the highest priority the country placed on cooperation and coexistence.
He observed that the River Niger was of great importance not only to Nigeria, but to other member countries that depend on its resources for their livelihood.
Adalikwu stated that it was saddening that for the first time since 1985, the River Niger had completely dried up in Niamey, Niger Republic, due to climate change.
He said, “It is on record that for the first time since 1985, the River Niger dried up completely in Niamey, Niger Republic due to climate change. The river reduced from two million square kilometres to about 1.5 square kilometres. As experts, you are expected to deliberate on issues affecting the authority and make appropriate recommendations to the council of ministers for their consideration.”
The Executive Secretary, NBA, Abderahim Hamid, expressed worry over the continuous shrinkage of the River Niger, linking it to the impact of climate change.
According to him, promoting cooperation among member countries and financial contributions aimed at improving the living conditions of residents of the region through sustainable management of water resources is key to the development of the basin.