President Muhammadu Buhari said on Saturday that recharging Lake Chad would help to minimize irregular migration of young people trying to cross the Sahara Desert into Europe.
He made the remark while hosting Marshal Idris Deby Itno, the President of Chad, at the State House in Abuja.
According to the President, a shrinking Lake Chad, which is now only about ten percent of its original size, has harmed about 30 million people, according to a statement signed by spokesman Femi Adesina.
“It is imperative that there be water transfer to the Lake Chad from the Congo Basin, so that the people can resume their normal lives,” President Buhari said, as quoted in Adesina’s statement.
He added that with inter-basin water transfer, farming, fishing, animal husbandry would resume, and curtail irregular migration of youths, who now dare the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, to get into Europe, seeking greener pastures, the statement noted.
“I’ve been engaging with the relevant stakeholders in Africa and beyond, on why we need to recharge Lake Chad. Nigeria will benefit more, but it is also advantageous to everyone,’’ President Buhari added.
On the recharge of Lake Chad, Chadian President Itno counseled Buhari to consider convening an international summit to move the idea forward.
Meanwhile, Buhari appreciated Chad for its role in curbing insurgency in the region, particularly the Boko Haram challenge.
“We appreciate what you are doing on security,” the President said. “When I first came to office in 2015, I came to see you, as well as leaders of other neighbouring countries, because it makes sense to be in the good books of our neighbours.”
President Buhari wished Marshal Itno well in the general elections coming up in his country in April.
The Chadian leader thanked President Buhari for receiving him, saying, “We are neighbours facing similar challenges.”
He added that he was also around to explore other bilateral issues, in addition to security.
President Itno, responding to questions from state house correspondents about Chad’s role in advancing the functionality of the multinational joint task force formed to combat insurgency in the Lake Chad region, said the Boko Haram crisis would be definitively addressed, given new strategies that would be used.
He further noted that tackling the insurgent group has been made difficult with operations carried out just once a year, but he is confident that with the change of security operatives both within Nigeria and the multinational joint task force, there is more hope for an end to the crisis.