Receiving the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, in Abuja on Thursday, President Buhari warned that failure to regenerate Lake Chad will lead to another round of migration by people living in the areas.
According to a statement by Garba Shehu, SSA to the President (Media & Publicity), the President, who led seven ministers to an interactive meeting with the UNESCO chief, said Nigeria and the other countries of the Lake Chad Basin lacked the billions of dollars required to channel water from the Congo Basin into the lake to check its rapid depletion.
“Those living in the Lake Chad region have suffered untold hardship and displacement because of the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists.
‘‘If there is no farming and fishing, they will dare the desert to migrate.
“Unless the developed countries make concerted efforts to complete the feasibility study, mobilize resources and technology to start the water transfer from the Congo Basin, the Lake Chad will dry up.
‘‘The people will go somewhere and they will create problems for those countries,” the President told the visiting UN official.
President Buhari commended UNESCO’s support to Nigeria particularly on the ongoing rehabilitation work in the North East and reintegration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
He said the pathetic situation of IDPs requires immediate and urgent response from international organisations such as UNESCO to provide infrastructure, health and education for the people in the area.
The UNESCO Director-General, Mrs. Bokova, who commenced a week-long visit to West and Central Africa on August 6, said she was in Nigeria to strengthen the organization’s programme in the areas of science and technology, gender and youth development, culture, water resources development, health and environment.
Receiving the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director and Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Prof Babatunde Osotimehin, in the State House, Thursday, President Buhari said that commitment to transparency and accountability has been serving the government in good stead, despite severe shortage of resources in the country.
According to a statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, (Media and Publicity), the President said “It has been a very difficult year for Nigeria. Before we came to office, petroleum sold for about $100 per barrel. Then it crashed to $37, and now oscillates between $40 and $45 per barrel. Suddenly, we’re a poor country, but commitment to transparency and accountability is not making people know that there is severe shortage,” the President said.
Asking UNFPA to bear with Nigeria in whichever area the country could not live up to its responsibilities for now, President Buhari said exploding population and different cultural practices in the country provide fertile ground for research to organizations like UNFPA.
The President thanked the UN agency for its commitment to saving lives in Nigeria, particularly of women and children.
On food security, President Buhari said reports from the North-East of the country were encouraging, as people were returning to their farmlands, with the guarantee of relative security.
Prof Osotimehin, a former Minister of Health in Nigeria, said UNFPA was determined to promote health care facilities across the country, noting that reduction of maternal mortality was doable, if the country paid more attention to access to health facilities, and human resources to run them.
He also encouraged Nigeria to commit to providing resources for health care, on a rollover basis, pledging that the UN would work with the country to provide humanitarian assistance not only in the North-East, “but even extended to the Lake Chad basin.”