By Shehu Sa’eed
The Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe has stressed the determination of the Federal Government to protect the interest of Nigerians living in the Niger Basin. The Minister was speaking at the opening of the Extra Ordinary Session of Council of Ministers preceding the Summit of Heads of State and Government of Member Countries in N’Djamena, Chad.
Sixty percent of the land area of the Niger Basin fall within Nigeria and by implication, most of the dwellers are Nigerians. Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe said the Federal Government is worried about the condition of the Nigerian population within the Basin due to the climatic challenges in the area which is affecting their livelihood. She however said the Federal Government and member States are working to address these challenges in line with the Goverment’s commitment to the eradication of poverty and the economic transformation of Nigerians.
The Prime Minister of Chad Mr. Joseph Dadnadji said the eradication of poverty within the Basin can only be achieved with adequate funding and strong institutional support. At the end of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of Member Countries, issues relating to the management of the resources in the Niger Basin as well as financing were discussed. Members stressed the need for timely payment of annual dues and the in-depth study of the review of the sharing formula for contributions to the functioning budget of the Niger Basin Authority.
They also agreed that the financing of the Basin should involve the private sector as well as the adoption of the results of the evaluation of the five-year-priority-plan from 2008-2012. At the end of the Summit, the nine Member Countries unanimously appointed President Boni Yaya of the Republic of Benin as the new head of the Summit of the Niger Basin Authority for a two year tenure.
The 11th Summit of the Niger Basin Authority is scheduled in the second half of 2014 in Cotonou, Benin Republic.