•… Rallies Niger Basin countries to forestall complete dryness
The Acting Auditor General of the Federation, Mrs Florence Anyanwu, has said River Niger is drying up as a result of a whole lot of uncontrolled activities going on in terms of the use of water.
However, realising the importance of the River Niger to the generation of electricity, water transportation, agriculture and other socioeconomic activities, the Federal Government is rallying other members of the Niger Basin Development Authority (NBDA) to forestall the drying up of the river.
Already, Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) as the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) for Nigeria is leading a Cooperative Environmental Audit Project on River Niger that will particularly include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’ Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
Mrs Anyanwu, who spoke at the opening of the sixth African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions Working Group on Environmental Auditing (AFROSAI-WGEA), which opened in Abuja, on Tuesday, said “right now, if you have been towards the Onitsha area of the Niger River, you will realise that the river is drying up gradually. In some countries, it has actually dried up. And that is about the longest river and Nigeria represents the largest coastal area of the river.
“The river represents a lot of economic activities, a whole lot of prospective provision of electricity, there is a lot of navigation activities so it is very relevant and important. Even in terms of agriculture. So we looked at it and said we don’t want to stay back, wait and watch what happened to Lake Chad also happen to River Niger.
“The earlier we can address it as a SAI, the better, so that we can make recommendations to member countries to address it in their policy formulation and implementation.”
According to her, AFROSAI-WGEA had already adopted the policy and agreed to start that audit, saying that it was just the official commencement “that we need the official approval for, which we are hoping we will get at the end of this meeting.”
AFROSAI-WGEA, which is the African regional branch of International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions has similarly submitted an audit report on Lake Chad to the Lake Chad Basin Development Authority and its member countries on activities around the drying lake and what to do to arrest its depletion.
Anyanwu said the main reasons for the study was to find out how the water resources in Lake Chad was being used.
“We also realised that a whole lot of governments around Lake Chad were not implementing some of the bilateral agreements that they had on the basin.
“That was some of the reasons why the AFROSAI-WGEA considered that the drying up of Lake Chad is something of great importance to the member countries.
“And we felt that doing that audit would also bring about a lot of recommendations that will also help governments’ policy formulation in terms of addressing the issues around Lake Chad.”
In her opening address, Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed noted that “our environment is our sustenance and unless we care for our environment, our own lives will be in danger. Unless we have a clear knowledge of what is happening to our environment, we may not be able to make appropriate policies for sustainable environmental management.”