By Gabriel Ewepu, ABUJA
The Minister of Water Resource, Engr Suleiman Adamu, Wednesday, lamented Nigeria and eight other member countries of the Niger Basin Authority, NBA, face a financial crisis to mitigate the impact of climate change and pollution from companies operating in the Niger Basin.
Adamu stated this in an opening address at the National Workshop on the Establishment and Operationalization of the Regional Climate Change and Adaptation Fund/Payment for Environmental Services, RCCAF/PES, in Abuja, which all member countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, and other stakeholders were in attendance.
Being represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Didi Walson-Jack, he said the NBA was established in 1964 by nine nations including to basically promote cooperation among member countries and ensure integrated development of the Niger Basin as was to protect the ecosystem.
He said: “You will agree with me that this cannot be effectively done without the availability of sufficient funds which the NBA Executive Secretariat has been battling with for many years due to the fact that contributions are not being paid promptly and support from international development partners are dwindling.”
He also disclosed that at the Summit of Heads of State and Government of NBA, in its decision No.2 of the 11th Summit held in Cotonou, Benin Republic in 2016, approved the establishment of the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Fund and the Payment for Environmental Services, RCCFAF/PES, with a view to providing a platform for alternative financing for the NBA.
“The OPES mechanism is expected to include among others the establishment of taxes of the user-pays type, targeting first the hydropower sector, and polluter-pays type for mining and industrial activities”, he said.
However, according to the Minister, the NBA had already carried out and validated a study on autonomous and sustainable financing which resulted in the definition of five financing mechanisms adopted by the Basin’s high authorities.
“By the time we fully achieve the objectives of RCCAF, there will be an effective and efficient contribution to the financing of NBA activities and sustain financing to safeguard and NBA activities and sustainable financing to safeguard and preserve the ecosystem and natural resources in the Basin.”
Also in a message, the Chairperson, RCCFAF/PES, Ad Hoc Committee in Nigeria, Christine GbeDji, pointed out that, “Africa must take charge of itself; our NBA must be aware that development is endogenous and that we need a collective leap forward in order to stop being satisfied with the little assistance our partners provide us with, which does not take into consideration our actual needs.”
Earlier, in an address of welcome, the Director, Water Resources Planning and Technical Support Services and National Coordinator, NFS Nigeria, Babarinde Segun, said, “This workshop is very important as it will help strengthen the sustainable financing of the NBA.”