President Buhari seeks global action for North-east, Lake Chad

Godwin Ukaa, New York

Nigeria has appealed to the world community for immediate intervention in the plight of displaced people in the North-east of Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the appeal at a forum in New York, organised to review the situation in the diminishing Lake Chad and other issues of boko haram within the West and Central African regions.

In his address, he called on world leaders and other international organisations to rise up to the responsibility of saving the millions of people languishing in starvation, poverty and other hardship before it led to a catastrophe.

“It is time for collective global action to invest in the people of Nigeria’s North-East and the Lake Chad Basin region,” the President told the high-level event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, holding in New York .

He spoke of the new agenda and the strategies to be employed in North-east, Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin situation as a whole.

“We are renewing the call for re-dedicated international action to end the humanitarian needs of victims and address the root causes of terrorism itself,” he said at the event jointly-sponsored by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

President Buhari noted that the “complexities and severity of humanitarian crisis across the world have increased in recent times, resulting in devastating repercussions. Political and socio-economic structures as well as the growth trajectory of many countries have been negatively affected leaving traumatized populations. The dual impact of Climate Change and terrorism cum insurgency has created deeper implications for peace and security, social harmony and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

While commending the Multi-National Joint Task Force for degrading boko haram, he said that the Nigerian government had been fully responsive to the urgency to save innocent lives, protect victims of atrocities, guarantee stability and facilitate the resumption of normal social and economic activities in the North-East of the country.

“The Government of Nigeria is not overwhelmed by the enormity of this humanitarian challenge. Rather, we remain resolute in defeating terrorism in all its forms. We have put in place a robust people-driven counter-terrorism strategy built on a combination of revamped security operations and a human rights-based approach to help bring about rehabilitation, reintegration and reconstruction, the President said.

The President told the gathering, efforts of the Nigerian Government to sustain the huge large population of displaced persons.

 “Nigeria has been providing food support, reintegrated healthcare, shelter, psycho-social support and access to water and sanitation amenities for those in need. We are also engaging highly respected community and religious leaders to discourage vulnerable youth from being radicalized,” he added.

President Buhari expressed delight that displaced persons had begun to return to their communities in Konduga, Mafa, Benisheck and Ngala in the North-East.

On the missing Chibok schoolgirls, the President said that the unfortunate incident had remained in “our national consciousness,” adding that the administration “is working hard to ensure the release of all Nigerians held captive by boko haram, including the Chibok girls. We are ready to ensure their swift rehabilitation, reintegration and the continuation of their studies once returned to their families.”

On the Lake Chad, President Buhari said the shrinking of the Lake had also like boko haram, adversely affected the communities around the Basin.

Given the enormous challenge posed by the dwindling waters, the President noted that no single State in the region could independently meet the needs of the victims of the depressing occurrence.

“Nigeria thus, reiterates its call for stronger international action and support for the implementation of the Lake Chad Development Resilience Action Plan,” he said, even as he urged “increased global attention and active engagement than it is currently receiving.”

The Nigerian Government under the leadership of President Buhari, pledged Nigeria’s preparedness to collaborate in order to “find a lasting solution to this human disaster.” He however, appreciated the critical support the North-East and Lake Chad Basin had been receiving from the United Nations and development partners.

The Presidents of Niger, Muhammadu Issoufou and Chad, Idris Derby were in the meeting with a representative of the Cameroonian President.

International organisations that participated in the discussion included the African Union, AU;European Union, EU; WFP, UNICEF, IOC and the Red Cross.