How to Avert Dry-up of River Niger Tops Agenda as Africa’s Auditors-General Meet in Abuja

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Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

Nigeria will today host other African countries in Abuja under the aegis of the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions Working Group on Environmental Auditing (AFROSAI WGEA), with one of the major items on the agenda being how to avert the possible drying up of Africa’s third longest river, the River Niger.

Experts had warned that the river faces the danger of drying up in a few years if urgent remedial measures are not taken to arrest man-made activities and the threat of climate change, among others, which are inimical to its existence.

Nigeria’s Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGoF), Mr. Samuel Ukura, is hosting the meeting, which would have in attendance his counterparts from other parts of the continent.

In the course of the meeting, eight countries, including Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cameroun, Algeria, Chad and Cote d’Ivoire as well as Nigeria, which are along the River Niger belt, will be brainstorming on how to avert the drying up of the River Niger.
The theme of the three-day meeting is ‘Working Together for a Healthy and Sustainable Environment.”

Ukura had recently disclosed that an environmental audit of the river to determine its level of dryness was imminent. The decision on the river’s audit is to be taken at the AFROSAI WEGA meeting, which kicks off in Abuja today.

Experts had disclosed that initial investigation of the river indicated that the decline of its flow was occasioned mainly by climate change, industrial waste and population growth problems.
Ukura and his counterparts from the other eight African countries in the River Niger belt would decide at the Abuja meeting when the environmental audit of the river would commence.

The audit would be executed under the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI), with Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroun, Algeria, Chad and Cote d’Ivoire playing pivotal roles.

Ukura had in May this year noted that it was necessary for governments of the affected nations to address the threat to the river so as to avoid a repeat of the negative impact of the drying up of Lake Chad, with the attendant socio-economic fallouts.

“Within a few decades, River Niger will completely disappear. There are certain things in the preliminary investigation we discovered that are happening. People have been building dams without authorisation along the river. And the law establishing the River Niger Basin Commission states that before you do any serious activity along the River Niger, you have to tell other countries. But these activities are taking place without authorisation.

“Also the river is being misused. There are certain activities that will cause the river to dry up, like dumping waste. People dump certain things like toxic waste and it destroys our aquatic system. So we will look at these things to see what can be done to stop its drying,’’ Ukura said.