Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja called for more commitment aimed at redirecting water to the Lake Chad, noting that about 40 million population in the region will pose adverse migration and security challenges to the world.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president made the remarks while receiving Letters of Credence from the High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Philip Baker, at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, Buhari said the tragedy of the shrinking Lake Chad would continue to fuel more illegal migrations, banditry and provide willing hands for terrorism since majority of the people have lost their means of livelihood.
He quoted him as saying, “In 1920’s, an academic rightly predicted that except there’s a redirection of water to Lake Chad, it will dry up.
“Now whenever I go for any global meeting or visit a country, I will always draw the world’s attention to the adverse effect of climate change on the lake, and the resulting negative effects.”
He said Buhari urged the Canadian government to support the ongoing efforts to divert water from the Congo River to the lake.
“Canada has the capacity to help us. The lake is now less than 10 per cent of its normal size. A redirection will help our people from getting into the Mediterranean Sea,’’ he was further quoted.
According to the statement, the president said Nigeria and Canada had good relations dating back to the early 1960’s when Nigeria gained independence and commended the country for “its vast resource utilisation and solid political background.’’
The statement also quoted the Canadian High Commissioner, in his remarks, as commending Buhari for providing leadership in the country, and championing the cause of replenishing Lake Chad Basin.
The envoy recalled that the Canadian Governor General, Julie Payette, had presented a picture taken from space of the vanishing lake to the president when she visited recently.
The statement added that Baker disclosed that more than 11, 000 Nigerians were studying in Canada, with many residing in the country, assuring the president that majority of the students return to build and invest their knowledge in the development of Nigeria.
“The Canadian High Commissioner said he would work towards improving relations between both countries on migration, education, entrepreneurship training, mining, renewable energy and Information Technology,” the statement added.
The statement also disclosed that Buhari received letters of credence from the new British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Wendy Campbell Laing, and Ambassador of Argentina to Nigeria, Maria Del Carmen Squeff.
According to the statement, Laing promised that Britain would continue to support Nigerian troops in the North-east as well as the people affected by insurgency, assuring Buhari that more attention would be given to non-oil trade exchange and strengthening of political ties.
The statement further revealed that in her response, the Ambassador of Argentina noted that both countries must move beyond the level of signing agreements to the level where trade, sports, investments and agriculture get practical follow up for mutual benefit.