Buhari leaves Niger Basin Authority as chairman

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President Muhammadu Buhari has called for international support to ramp up development efforts in the Niger Basin area which is currently home to more than 160 million people who depend on the River for their livelihoods.

President Buhari made the call on Thursday while declaring the 12th virtual Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) open in Abuja.

According to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina titled ‘President Buhari calls for global support to develop Niger Basin’, the President observed that River Niger, commonly called Djoliba in Guinea and Mali, offers enormous development opportunities in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, fish farming, hydro-power, hydraulics and navigation.

According to him, the river, which provides a source of sustenance to more than 160 million Africans, deserves to continually be showcased to the world so that it could attract the sort of attention and resources, which would in turn improve the live and livelihood of the people who depend on it.

“It is therefore necessary to continue to promote its enormous potential for the benefit of our people and to improve the socio-economic development of the region,” he said.

He thanked the Technical and Financial Partners, including the African Development Bank, the Global Environment Fund, the German Financial Cooperation, for identifying with the vision and projects of the authority.

He also urged them to keep supporting efforts at developing the Niger Basin in the fight against pollution and the degradation of ecosystems.

As outgoing Chairman of the NBA Leaders’ Summit, Buhari gave account of his five-year term leading the organization.

He said ‘‘Excellencies, it has been a privilege to lead this Summit of Heads of State and Government for the past five years, since you all unanimously endorsed me as the Chairman at the 11th Summit held in Cotonou, Benin Republic on 8th January 2016 to lead our common Institution.

‘‘Of the several decisions taken at the Summit, only the decision on funding of the NBA 2016-2024 Operational Plan is yet to be fully implemented.

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‘‘It is pertinent to note that there are some ongoing programmes like support to Ground Water Management in Niger Basin, project II to strengthen NBA and its Member Countries’ technical capacity and human resources for improving transboundary groundwater resource management in the Niger Basin.

He enumerated other ongoing programmes including the Integrated Development and Adaptation to Climate Change in Niger Basin financed by the AfDB, GEF, KFW and NBA Member Countries.

He explained that the climate change programme will cover the nine NBA member-countries- Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad.

The President also thanked the outgoing Executive Secretary, Abderahim Hamid, for serving the Authority, adding that the 12th Summit is expected to appoint a new Executive Secretary and a Chairman.

Meanwhile, Buhari has congratulated President Roch Kaboré of Burkina Faso on his appointment as the new chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA).

In his closing address at the virtual 12th summit of the Heads of State and Government of NBA, President Buhari, who is the outgoing chair, said the institution had ‘‘the utmost confidence’’ in President Kabore’s ability to steer the affairs of the Niger Basin Authority for the next two years.

‘‘Let me, on behalf of all Heads of State and Government of NBA, wish His Excellency President of the Republic of Burkina Faso, a very successful tenure’’, the President said.

The Nigerian leader congratulated member states of NBA for a job well done, calling on them to continue to muster the needed political will and courage to implement the far-reaching decisions agreed at the Summit.

The President also expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to leaders and member-countries who attended the Summit as well as their ‘‘unwavering support and cooperation during my five year tenure as Chairman of Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Authority.”