(From Tosin Kolade, NAN)
The Nigerian Government has called on member countries of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) to pay up their contributions towards sustaining the livelihoods of inhabitants of the basin.
Speaking at the opening of the 39th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of NBA in Abuja, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu noted that the rich basin area with a population of 130 million was facing many challenges.
Adamu said the meeting was an opportunity to seek solutions to developmental challenges in the management of water resources in the basin.
The Minister, represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs Didi Walson-Jack, said the delays associated with the payment of member countries’ contributions had been identified as one of the major constraints.
“We must encourage technical and financial partners by ensuring that adequate funding is made available for the operations of the institutions.
“In fact, we cannot talk about the development of the Niger basin and their regional institutions unless we make available financial resources needed in a timely manner for the progress required.
“We all know that the wellbeing of our people depends on it. This meeting gives us an opportunity to dialogue and find adequate solutions to the problems facing the executive secretariat in the implementation of project and programmes,” Adamu said.
He urged members to continue to promote cooperation among themselves, ensure an integrated development of the Niger Basin in the fields of energy, water resources, agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing and fisheries, forestry, transport among others.
Mrs Alice Ojowu, Coordinator, NBA National Focal Structure said Nigeria’s hosting of the meeting signified its importance to cooperation, coexistence with its neighbours towards ensuring the safety of its common institution.
Ojowu noted that the basin was of special importance to its member countries who depend on it for livelihood, saying it was high time the basin competed favourably with other transboundary organisations globally.
Mr Abderahim Bireme Hamid, Executive Secretary, Niger Basin Authority, said the Basin’s population was highly vulnerable as their sustenance depended on unpredictable and extreme rainfall, particularly in the Sahel part of the Basin.
The Niger Basin Authority is an intergovernmental organization in West Africa aiming to foster co-operation in managing and developing the resources of the basin of the Niger River.
Member countries include Niger, Benin, Chad, Guinea, Cote d ‘Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.