FG Plans to Recharge Lake Chad at Estimated Cost of $15bn

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 Humanitarian situation in 11 IDP, three refugee camps, very critical  Air Force looks inwards towards building  capacity, production of platforms, equipment

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja and Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos

The federal government has successfully conducted a feasibility study towards recharging the Lake Chad through an inter-basin water transfer from the Congo basin at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

 This is a part of the projects envisioned to transform the region into a more stable economic hub as the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram in the North-east draw to a close.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this at the weekend on the sidelines of the just concluded second Regional Security Summit in Abuja.

 Onyema noted that even though the figure was a rough estimate, it would be executed under a public private partnership (PPP) when it comes into force.

“We also have the issue of environment and economic activities. Also, there is the issue of recharging the Lake Chad basin, which is extremely expensive. So we will be looking at financiers and the mechanism of PPP.

“Yes its a rough estimate and there is research that was done and the rough patch was that  it will cost $15 billion,” he stated.

 In the same vein, the Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Mr. Sanusi Abdullahi, gave some details about the planned inter-basin recharging of the Lake Chad as part of grand post-conflict rebuilding projects in the region.

According to him, with the war on terror gradually entering the finishing line, now is the time to aggressively turn attention to the implementation of development projects and programmes to facilitate the re-building of those critical areas in the North East of Nigeria, the far North of Cameroun, the Lake region of Chad and the Diffa and Zinder regions of Niger affected by Boko Haram insurgency as well as the Central African Republic’s war (CAR).

He stressed that articulating these programmes and implementing them would no doubt, immediately register the active presence of governance in the communities, adding that they “should not only win the war but win the peace as the most desirable and sustainable goal.”

The LCBC boss noted that “prior to the activities of Boko Haram terrorists which shifted the attention of the Sub-regional leaders and the Commission to the fight on the war on terror, discussions had reached advanced stage with respect to the recharging of the Lake Chad through Interbasin Water Transfer from the Congo basin to Lake Chad in order to substantially increase the volume of water in the Lake.”

Abdullahi further disclosed that “pre-feasibility studies financed by Nigeria showed that the project is technically feasible and economically viable.”

 According to the executive secretary, the project is to principally strengthen the resilience of the ecosystem, fauna and flora as well as the productive systems around the basin areas to enhance food security, reduce poverty and have the youths more gainfully employed to deny  bad groups the opportunity of sourcing them for activities that are detrimental to the sub-region.

 He said: “Financing and the need for intensified hydro diplomacy with the governments of the donor basin are the major issues for the project.

 “In 2012, the project was estimated to cost $14.5 billion. We are currently engaging organisations and institutions who may assist with technical expertise and financial support to bring back, to the fore, this flagship project for further actions that will lead to its implementation.”

He continued: “As we are now hopefully approaching the end of the dark tunnel, ending the horrific and devastating consequences of Boko Haram insurgency in the sub-region, our attentions must now necessarily and urgently too, shift to the root causes and drivers of poverty, violence and intolerance in the region, to enable sustainable solutions to be articulated to specifically address our youth and women as the most vulnerable in our societies.

 “Our leaders at this Summit, are respectfully urged to address with vigour, the socio-economic structure of the region’s economies, resources and infrastructural deficits in such a creative ways to facilitate wealth creation, hence poverty alleviation, provision of quality education, hence capacity building and the issues of physical, human and food security through series of developmental programmes that are carefully selected and targeted to impact the people, especially, the most vulnerable people in our sub-region.”

Also speaking, the Commander, Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Major Geneneral Lamidi Adeosun, noted that the humanitarian situation within their area of operation remains very critical.

Currently, Adeosun said, there are 11 IDP camps and three Refugee camps within the MNJTF Area of Responsibility (AoR).

 “They include Kolafata, Mora and Fotokol IDP Camps and Minawawo Refuegee Camp in Cameroun. Yokoua, Bagasola IDPs and Daressalam Refugee Camps in Chad, Baga and Kukawa IDP Camps in Nigeria, Jakimiya, Kablewa, Kangouri and Assagar IDP Camps and Assagar Refugee Camp in Niger,” he stated.

 He said that the MNJTF secures these Camps with armed troops, and escorts humanitarian workers.

 The Commander listed some areas that require urgent attention in the Camps including; provision of water and food in all Camps, deployment of medical personnel and materials, provision for over 40,000 Children out of School, reconstruction of destroyed infrastructures to enable return of displaced and refugees.

  Given the economic downturn of Nigeria, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), has said it has decided to look inwards in building capacity and a culture of self reliance especially as regards its continuous fight against insurgency in the North-east.

Through the command Inter-Unit Research and Development (R&D) competition organised by the Standards and Evaluations unit of the NAF, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar hopes to use R&D to curb foreign reliance for platforms and equipment.

While the Commander, 401 Aircraft Maintenance Depot, Air Commodore Emmanuel Wonah built the Aircraft Engine Compressor Washing Machine and mobile hydraulic cart, the Commander, 403 Communications Group, Captain Ayodele Hanidu built a tech firing range equipment.