From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated that about 30 million people are adversely affected by a shrunken Lake Chad, which is now just about ten per cent of its original size.
He has therefore stressed the need for the lake to be recharged with water from the Congo Basin, in order for the people to resume their economic lives.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari spoke Saturday at State House, Abuja, while hosting the President of Chad, Marshal Idris Deby Itno, who paid him a one-day official visit.
“It is imperative that there be water transfer to the Lake Chad from the Congo Basin, so that the people can resume their normal lives,” he said.
Buhari added that with inter-basin water transfer, farming, fishing, animal husbandry would resume, and curtail irregular migration of youths, who now dare the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, to get into Europe, seeking greener pastures.
“I’ve been engaging with the relevant stakeholders in Africa and beyond, on why we need to recharge Lake Chad. Nigeria will benefit more, but it is also advantageous to everyone,” he added.
President Buhari appreciated Chad for its role in curbing insurgency in the region, particularly the Boko Haram challenge.
“We appreciate what you are doing on security. When I first came to office in 2015, I came to see you, as well as leaders of other neighbouring countries, because it makes sense to be in the good books of our neighbours.”
He wished Itno well in the general elections coming up in his country in April.
The Chadian leader thanked President Buhari for receiving him, saying, “We are neighbours facing similar challenges.”
He added that he was also around to explore other bilateral issues, in addition to security.
On the recharge of Lake Chad, he advised President Buhari to consider convening an international summit to move the idea forward.