President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that Nigeria had initiated measures to mitigate the negative effects of the shrinking Lake Chad on the people of the area.
The president, who was represented by the Borno Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, stated this in Maiduguri while declaring open the First Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum.
The president, who also sought the support of the international community in addressing effects of climate change, said Nigeria was working diligently to address the plight of the people living on the Nigeria’s side of the lake.
Buhari, who noted that the Lake Chad issues must be treated with the required urgency, called on all stakeholders to share the mission of rescuing the Lake Chad Basin from extinction.
He said there was the need to find workable solutions in resuscitating the lake to the benefit of all member-countries in the region.
He added that the people living in the basin depended on the lake for agriculture, fisheries and livestock for their economic well-being.
Buhari said: “The Lake Chad is very dear to our heart as it is a source of livelihood to over 45 million people living in the Basin.
‘‘This Lake, which is one of the oldest Lakes in Africa, is shared by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.”
He noted that the Lake Chad region was formerly an “oasis in the desert”, a hub of economic activities and food security, providing a source of happiness and contentment that contributed to the stability of the sub-region.
He said: “Unfortunately, the ‘oasis in the desert’ is almost a desert now, due to the drying up of Lake Chad occasioned by the effects of global warming and population explosion.”
Edward Kallon, the United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative in Nigeria, said despite the progress made on the security and humanitarian front in recent years, more needed to be done to assure the people of the Lake Chad Basin of their safety.
Kallon said: “The people of this region have suffered for far too long and we need to redouble our collective efforts to address the underlying causes of the crisis.’’
Kallon noted that the forum would enhance the effective participation of local communities defining pathways to the crisis facing the region.
He said: “We must further more enhance cooperation around stabilisation, peace building and conflict prevention.’’
Kallon, who also advocated a multi-pronged approach to Lake Chad Basin crisis, urged the governor to support UN to address the crisis.