President Muhammadu Buhari has called for global support to develop resources in Niger Basin Area, home to over 160 million people who depend on the Niger River as a means of sustenance.
He explained that the Niger River commonly called Djoliba in Guinea and Mali, and other resources in the area 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,’’ Buhari said on Thursday while declaring open the virtual 12th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA).
Furthermore, the Nigerian leader 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 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 an 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 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 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.
‘‘Distinguished delegates, 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 you 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, Buhari while thanking the outgoing Executive Secretary, Abderahim Hamid, for serving the authority noted that the 12th Summit was 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.