The National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), says the shrinking of the Lake Chad deepened poverty in the North-East which ultimately contributed to terrorism.
The NSA said this in Abuja on Thursday at a think tank conference on water security in Nigeria tagged: ‘Towards a Comprehensive National Policy and Strategy.’
The event was organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru. Monguno, who was represented by Dr. Remi Oyewunmi, defined water security as the ability of a country to provide adequate supply of safe and clean water to meet domestic, agricultural and industrial needs of the population.
He said with the shrinking of Lake Chad, many who relied on fishing and agriculture were adversely affected.
Monguno said, “Nowhere is the correlation between water and security or rather, water and insecurity more compelling than in the North-East. Lake Chad, a major source of fishing, farming and irrigation in the region, has shrunk at an alarming rate in recent decades, impoverishing millions, with dire consequences for national peace and security.
“The emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East is not unconnected to the acute levels of poverty and social deprivation in the region. Thanks to the spirited efforts of the Nigerian armed forces, the insurgents have been on the back foot for the last couple of years.
“However, the long term development of the North-East will have to include the plan of replenishment of the lost waters of Lake Chad.”
The NSA said to alleviate the suffering of the people, a plan had been conceived to divert water from River Congo into the lake, the second longest river in Africa and the largest in the world in terms of the volume of water it discharges.
He said President Muhammdu Buhari was working seriously to find a solution to the Lake Chad problem, adding that at the United Nations conference in Paris in 2015, he appealed to world powers to help restore Lake Chad.
Monguno said water security should be taken more seriously than food security since water is vital for the production of food.
Also, the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, said there was a need for the government to address the shrinking of water bodies which would be more rampant with the global warming.
Lawal, who was represented by the Director, Institute for Security Studies, Mr. Matthew Sefeiya, said when there is insufficient water in both quantity and quality, human health suffers, food cannot be grown, electricity cannot be produced and industrial production suffers.
He said the Syrian crisis could be traced to rural-urban migration which was caused by drought, adding that Nigeria was also facing crisis such as farmer/herdsmen clashes and terrorism due to water scarcity and desertification.
The DSS boss added, “Regarding our national threat profile, there has been an established nexus between water insecurity and two of the key elements in the threat profile, namely the Boko Haram threat and the herdsmen/farmers crisis.
“It has been inferred that the vastly encroaching desertification in the far northern regions of Nigeria has shrunk economic opportunities in the Lake Chad region and grazing areas for cattle. This has rendered many unemployed persons vulnerable to extremist indoctrination by Boko Haram.”
Also speaking, the acting Director-General, NIPPS, Mr. Jonathan Juma, said water facilities like dams and pipelines must also be protected from biological and physical attacks.
Meanwhile, a global humanitarian organisation, Oxfam, has said that water scarcity is posing severe threat to the survival of about 3,800 internally displaced persons who arrived Nigeria from Cameroon in the past few days. Oxfam in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday said many of the refugee returnees seem to have been misinformed by promises of improved access to humanitarian assistance and safe return to their villages but that those are not the realities.
Oxfam said, “Over the past three months, nearly 10,000 more people have arrived in Pulka from surrounding areas and from Cameroon. Humanitarian actors have warned consistently that the conditions in Pulka are neither dignified nor safe and that alternatives must be found.
“Currently, people cannot count on much more than five litres of water per person per day, which is a far cry from the humanitarian minimum standard of 15 litres. Every new busload of people hoping to return home, but delivered to the congested camp sites of Pulka, forces the little available water to be shared among more thirsty mouths, increasing the risks of disease and death.”
Oxfam’s Emergency Coordinator for the Lake Chad region, Danielle Lustig, was quoted in the statement as saying, “People have already suffered immensely and we should not add more pain to their lives. They should only be relocated to places where there are sufficient basic services and provided with complete information about the conditions they will face.”