News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Nigeria denies pledging $1b for Lake Chad

Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, with President Buhari and ECOWAS leaders.

By Isaac Aregbesola

The Federal Government has denied pledging $1 billion for the recharge of Lake Chad or humanitarian assistance to the region.

The supposed pledge, government said, was contrary to claims by the UN Security Council (UNSC).

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said this on Tuesday in Abuja disclaimed the pledge when he was visited by United Nations Security Council mission to the region.

UNSC had on Monday called on Nigeria to scale up disbursement of one billion dollars pledged at a conference.

The conference was on Humanitarian Assistance for victims of Boko Haram insurgency and rebuilding of the North East as well as to recharge Lake Chad which held in Oslo in February.

UNSC delegation to Nigeria had at a news conference in Abuja advised Nigeria to take the lead in disbursing its own pledge at the conference on the humanitarian assistance for Lake Chad region.

The minister, however, said that there was no pledge made by the Federal Government in that regard.

“There is no question of one billion dollars pledged that Nigeria has made in that respect. One billion dollars pledged for the Lake Chad is not correct.

“The sequence of the event is that there was a study to be done whether it was possible to recharge Lake Chad from Central Africa.

“Some years ago, the government put in five million dollars for the study to be done and it has been done,” he said.

Onyeama said that the study put the cost of recharging Lake Chad at 15 billion dollars.

“Now, since this government came, we have got some other people looked at the study and there seems to be a lot of gaps at the study.

“We are now looking at having a comprehensive feasibility study carried out and that is going to cost about 15 million dollars to do the study,’’ he said.

According to him, the Minister of Water Resources and others are scheduled to meet on the kind of international donour conference later in the year for financial support for the project.

“Because $15 billion is a huge sum of money. It is clearly something we cannot afford.’’

Onyeama said that government may also be considering Public Private Partnership arrangement in terms of mobilising resources for the project.

“We are moving in that direction, but there is no question of one billion naira pledge that Nigeria has made in that respect,’’ he said. (NAN)