A large chunk of world economy depends largely on natural than man-made resources which defines survival of many micro-communities like those contiguous to the Lake Chad Basin.
Incidentally, the post-World war partition of Africa by the world powers surrounded this great lake with sub-saharan countries of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun and Niger Republic. These nations underlined the economic importance of this natural water resource by forming the Lake Chad Basin Commission for smooth synergy.
There was humongous socio-political and economic benefits in terms of human interactions, enhanced diplomatic relations between member countries and boisterous fishing, crop farming and cattle rearing before and after the independence of these African countries.
Surprisingly, the lake has shrunken too rapidly in the last two and half decades owing to climate change linked largely to human activity, scientists say. Consequently, human and cattle population massively exited from the zone while the youths, still bubbling with abundant energy, have taken to crime in the absence of immediate options.
We hasten to say that the current insecurity threat in the affected areas may not be totally disconnected from this economic and social menace ravaging the land. From the observation of social scientists, the deprived has the tendency to grab any string that ensures his survival including extreme ideology that stabilizes the psyche whether real or imagined.
And if millions of people living in this region are allowed to resort to self help as characterized by the Boko Haram insurgency, the rest of mankind should be prepared for the worst.
Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari’s plea for more commitment towards redirecting water to the Lake Chad, is a step in the right direction and calls for urgent world attention. Buhari observed that about 40 million deprived people in the region will pose adverse migration and security challenges to the world.
Making the clarion call through the High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Philip Baker, at the Presidential Villa recently, he noted that the tragedy associated with the shrinking Lake Chad would continue to fuel more illegal migrations, banditry and provide willing hands for terrorism since majority of the people have lost their means of livelihood.
“In the 1920’s, an academic rightly predicted that except there’s a redirection of water to Lake Chad, it will dry up… I will always draw the world’s attention to the adverse effect of climate change on the lake, and the resulting negative effects”, Buhari said and urged the Canadian government to support the ongoing efforts to divert water from the Congo River to the lake.
“The lake is now less than 10 per cent of its normal size. A redirection will help our people from getting into the Mediterranean Sea,’’ he stressed.
Though President Buhari’s voice is undoubtedly strong on the African continent and indeed the world, the member-nations of Chad, Cameroun and Niger Republic should also wield their influences in the international arena to attract world leaders, the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organisations to the effort to save the Lake Chad from total perdition and the attendant crisis thereof.
The Canadian Governor General, Julie Payette, who presented a picture taken from space of the vanishing lake to President Buhari when she visited recently, should also help in spreading her finding to the world before it’s too late. Urgent actions are needed to return our people back to their traditional agriculture so that we can replace deadly arms once again, with plowshares.