Stakeholders task FG on inter-basin water transfer for food security

Stakeholders in the engineering sector, have called on the Federal Government to leverage on the Inter-Basin Water Transfer (IBWT) technology to boost food security in Nigeria.

The stakeholders said this at the 4th Engineer Umar Jibrin’s Distinguish…

Stakeholders in the engineering sector, have called on the Federal Government to leverage on the Inter-Basin Water Transfer (IBWT) technology to boost food security in Nigeria.

The stakeholders said this at the 4th Engineer Umar Jibrin’s Distinguished Annual Public Lecture with the theme: `Leveraging on Inter-Basin Food Security and Enduring Rural Economics in Nigeria”.

The lecture was organised by the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers on Thursday in Abuja in honour of Umar Jibrin, a renowned engineer who had contributed immensely to the sector.

According to Prof. Abubakar Sadiq, the guest lecturer, IBWT meant the transfer of water from a surplus area to a scarcity area, like transferring water from areas that usually have flooding due to surplus water to areas like lake Chad that is drying up.

Sadiq who is also the President of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN), listed the benefits to IBWT to include: tackling flood, improved crop cultivation resulting in availability of food
among others.

‘The paper brings out the opportunity Nigeria has, to transfer excess water resources that are becoming a nuisance and resulting in flooding to shortage areas through the IBWT technologies which are being applied by other nations to solve that problem.

‘The project has been successfully done in many countries and Nigeria has started developing that concept since 1960 especially to address the issue of Lake Chad which is shrinking.

‘This has become the source of the crisis in not only Nigeria, but in the sub regions, which all of us are aware of, in terms of insecurity, biodiversity loss, desertification among others that is making people move from the north to the south.

‘Because of that, there is a crisis of resource management, insecurity, displacement of different communities and so on, so we are bringing this to the knowledge of the policymakers that we need to make sure we adopt this technology,’ he said.

Abubakar added that the technology when adopted, would be able to recharge the La
ke Chad Basin adding that ‘if we have such opportunity to put water where it’s supposed to be then we can use it to improve our food security in terms of developing the capacity to feed ourselves.”

The Keynote Speaker, Mr Inuwa Musa, called on the federal government to promote local technologies and key into IBWT technology in the interest of the nation.

‘We should look at everything from the perspective of self-interest as a nation and refuse to allow external actors to tell us what is good for Nigeria, because we are the ones who face the problem.

‘Clearly, you can see that the shrinking of lake Chad is the root cause of Boko Haram; so cannot continue to look the other way, so the IBWT is a win-win solution.

‘Since 1995, it’s been predicted that Nigeria cannot feed itself from rainfall alone. The solution is to provide water so that our farmers can continuously produce not just in rainy season.”

Musa said that was the only way out of poverty and food scarcity.

Mrs Margaret Oguntala, the Chairman of
the occasion and President of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), said the event was evidence of the commitment of engineers to advance engineering solutions to address critical issues facing Nigeria.

Oguntala, represented by the Deputy President of NSE, Mr Ali Rabiu, said the technology of water transfer would aid to advance the right value chain aimed at sustainable food security and improve the economy.

‘This couldn’t be timelier, it is a fundamental pillar of national stability and prosperity and as engineers, we must strive to address the challenges faced in achieving food security and promoting sustainable economies.”

The National Chairman of Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE), Mr Virgilus Ezugu, said the event aimed at honouring Umar Jibrin who has mentored younger professionals and inspired many engineers.

‘His professional trajectory demonstrates a robust practice that spans all the facets of the profession from technical practice, policy making and management to training and mentor
ing top class engineers who greatly impacted on national development.”

Ezugu said the lecture is usually held yearly to address major challenges in the country and the 2024 topic sought to tackle food insecurity and hunger.

He said that the application of engineering and technology in farming and agricultural practice would greatly increase yield and encourage more investment in the critical sector of socio-economic life.

He added that it would also provide the much-needed gainful employment for the teaming youths.

The awardee, Mr Umar Jibrin, a former Executive Secretary of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), commended NICE for finding him worthy of recognition and for organising the lecture to honour him.

‘This year’s topic on IBWT and the ripple effect on agriculture, irrigation, food security among others, is the most critical topical issue that we can talk about in this country at the moment.

‘We intend that after the lecture, we will also have a technical group that will look at the adv
antages and recommendations that have been put forward.

‘We will now interface with policymakers that are unlikely to come on board to be able to take up this issue that has been thrashed, and then we will see how it can be reflected in our governmental affairs.

‘This is to make sure that it is cascaded to a level of implementation processes to help the common man,’ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria