The federal government has raised the alarm that the River Niger is drying up. This alarm is coming barely five years after the government spent N49billion to dredge the lower part of the river to boost commercial activities through the inland waterways.
To save the river from the fate that befell Lake Chad, the federal government along with countries bordering the River Niger have approved the environmental audit of the river.
Addressing journalists at the end of the 6th Annual Meeting of African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions Working Group on Environmental Audit (AFROSAI WGEA) in Abuja on Tuesday, the Acting Auditor of the Federation (AuGF) Mrs Florence Anyanwu confirmed that that River Niger was drying up.
She noted that countries bordering the river have approved the environmental audit of the river and that commencement of the audit of none of the longest rivers in Africa will begin at the end of the meeting in Abuja.
According Anyanwu, “Talks are ongoing on the cooperative environmental audit project on River Niger by Niger Basin Authority consisting of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’ Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.”
She lamented that the drying up of the River Niger posed social, environmental and economic treat to the communities bordering the river.
When completed, the environmental audit of River Niger will afford the governments the information they need to save the river from further deterioration as well as ensure its continued benefit to bordering communities.
With regards to Lake Chad that has significantly lost a large portion of it body of water, the chair of the AFROSAI WGEA,
Mbah Acha Rose Fomundam said the environmental audit report of the Lake Chad has been sent to the governments of the four countries surrounding the lake to come up with laws to save the river from total evaporation.
Lake Chad is a shallow lake that ordinarily should be fed with constant rain but, environmental challenges have seen the lake suffer from sustained drop in the volume of rain fall feeding the lake and a growing population that depends on the lake for water, fishing and agriculture.
Fomundam noted that “despite the signing of multilateral agreements on the environment and established institutions, current scientific studies reveal that many of the planet’s ecosystems have rapidly deteriorated over the last 20 years.”
She added that “citizens have increasingly expected that organizations that hurt the environment be held accountable for their actions, with many citizens feeling that government declarations concerning the environment and sustainable development should be subject to independent audits to assess the extent to which they are implemented.”
In her address, the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed said “Environmental auditing is an essential component of sustainable environmental management as it provides the mechanism for allowing government to know what has gone wrong over time and highlights the need for urgent policy action.”
“Our environment is our sustenance and unless we care for our environment, our lives will be at risk. 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,” she added.
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