The Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr Samuel Ukura, said that Nigeria was in the process of conducting an environmental audit of the River Niger to determine its level of dryness.
Ukura said this on Thursday in Abuja when the Edo Auditor-General and members of the state Public Accounts Committee went for a study tour in his office.
He said that the initial investigation of the River Niger showed that the decline of the river’s flow was mainly due to climate change, industrial waste and problems caused by population growth.
Niger River has a length of about 4,100 kilometres and is the third longest river in Africa, after the Nile and the Congo-Zaire rivers.
It spreads through 10 countries and it is estimated that about 110 million people live in the river’s basin.
Ukura said the audit would be done under the African Supreme Audit Institute (AFROSAI), with Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Algeria, Chad and Cote DI’voire taking centre stage as they were directly affected.
He said it was necessary for government to address the issue, to avoid a repeat of the negative impact of the drying up of Lake Chad which led to insurgency and loss of livelihood.
“Within a few decades, River Niger will completely disappear. There are certain things in the preliminary investigation we discovered that is happening. People have been building dams without authorisation along the river.
“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 toxin waste and it destroys our aquatic system. So we will look at these things to see what can be done to stop its drying,’’ he said.
He said that the countries planned to hold a meeting to this effect in September in Nigeria.
Ukura also urged the National Assembly to pass the Audit Bill into law. He said there were certain international ratings that the country could not attain without passing an audit law.
“The audit law was created in 1956 when the main sources of revenue was from the sale of cocoa, soyabeans, groundnut, timber, palm oil and the rest. So this needs to be looked at
“Also, the audit law, when passed, will give the office of the Auditor-General more power and some hidden forces do not want this.
“This is because the new law will give the office the power to sanction and disallow certain expenditure and some people do not want that,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Auditor-General of Edo, Mr Bernard Aigbe, said his office was there to see how to bridge gaps between the two offices.
He said the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation had introduced certain strategies at federal level to ensure efficient use of government resources which he planned to introduce in the state.
He said the focus was on the Treasury and Performance Audit which tried to monitor and evaluate government expenditure on capital projects to ensure completion. (NAN)