The imminent disintegration of Nigeria — President Buhari: Part 1

On 11th of August 29, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari made a statement that shook this news house.

President Buhari led a team of seven ministers to an interactive meeting with the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova.

In that meeting, PMB said Nigeria and countries bordering Lake Chad Basin lacked the billions of dollars required to channel water from the Congo Basin into Lake Chad.

He said the action will check its rapid depletion.

“Those living in the Lake Chad region have suffered untold hardship and displacement because of Boko Haram.

‘‘If there is no farming and fishing, they will dare the desert to migrate.

“Unless developed countries make concerted efforts to complete the feasibility study, mobilize resources and technology to start the water transfer from the Congo Basin, the Lake Chad will dry up.

“The people will go somewhere and they will create problems for those countries,” PMB said.

That was the statement that riveted this news house and our research team went to work.

What we sought to unravel were these:

  1. How may climate change affect Lake Chad?
  2. Can this change exceed the carrying capacity of her growing population?
  3. Can it lead to forced migration?
  4. If yes, what will be the impact?
  5. Is President Buhari’s prediction true?
  6. If yes, what can we do to prevent disintegration?

We will answer the first three questions in this series and seek to resolve the remaining three questions in subsequent discussions.

How may climate change affect Lake Chad?

Water resources provide an overarching control on the distribution of populations.

Farmers tend to live near areas of high rainfall; tree fellers live near forests; and fishermen live near water bodies.

Steadily increasing global temperatures are expected to change the frequency, severity, and extent of natural disturbances, particularly in the tropics.

As President Buhari pointed out, this change reduces fresh water resources.

Lake Chad serve many purposes including water supply for domestic, industrial, and agricultural purposes.

It also supports wildlife habitat; transportation and navigation; energy generation; and recreation.

Lake Chad is surprisingly located in the world’s largest driest desert.

One would expect this lake to be salty (since it has not outlet to an ocean), but it is fresh!

It lies within the borders of four countries, namely Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

The lakebed is flat and shallow, so small changes in depth mean huge changes in area.

Even in normal times, Lake Chad was no more than 5-8 meters deep.

Lake Chad was once the second largest wetland in Africa, highly productive, and supporting a diversity of wildlife.

As the President noted, the Lake has shrunk considerably.

Aside from shrinking, access to the lake have been reduced due to Boko Haram insurgency.

The combined effect of limited access and shrinkage is contributory to the current hunger and starvation hitting IDP camps in Maiduguri.