Lagos - Nigeria’s lower chamber of parliament, the House of Representatives has begun a probe into how a $5m grant the Nigerian government gave to the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) during the tenure of former president Olusegun Obasanjo was spent.
The former president released the money to the commission to carry out feasibility studies on how to direct rivers from the Central African Republic to the lake.
The commission was established in 1964 with the responsibility of planning and regulating the use of water and other natural resources of conventional basin.
The resolution to probe how the money was spent followed the unanimous adoption of a motion sponsored by Honourable Ahmed Abu at the House’s plenary on Thursday.
Abu’s plea is based on the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, in October 2015.
The lawmaker noted that Ukura’s report did not capture the report of the feasibility studies on the lake.
Debating the motion, Abu noted that a transaction of this magnitude that gulped tax payers money was not given attention by past governments.
He gave details of how Nigeria and neighbouring countries were to contribute to the commission’s annual budget.
He noted that the percentage contribution towards the commission’s annual budget is 40% by Nigeria, 18% by Libya, 20% by Cameroon, 7% by Niger, 11%by Chad and 4% by Central African Republic.
He therefore urged the House to investigate this matter with a view to finding out who diverted the money for the project.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Ukura, had on October 12, disagreed over the environmental audit report on the drying up of Lake Chad
While Buhari noted that the report did not take into account the feasibility study conducted by a team under the tenure of Obasanjo, which cost Nigeria $5m, the AGF insisted that was outside his supervision, saying Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC, had that responsibility.
‘I am a bit disappointed’
The President then insisted that the AGF should explain the omission.
Buhari said: “ I saw an article in a journal in 1978 that a professor in the University of London, in 1925, had foreseen what we are just seeing.
“I handed over the article to Obasanjo and I understand that he took the initiative some time ago; it is on record that he is the only Nigerian that has presided over the country for more than 11 years.
“He gave $5m for the study, and the study reported that unless some of the rivers from the Central Africa Republic are diverted to empty into Chad Basin, Lake Chad will dry up.
“I understand that this report, which was sponsored by Nigeria, has been submitted. I am a bit disappointed that in the speech of the Auditor-General, there was no mention of this report. $5 million was given.
While ruling on Abu’s motion, Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara mandated its Committee on Lake Chad to investigate the matter.
The committee is expected to report back to the House within eight weeks.
- News24 Nigeria