Friday, 2020, May 22

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear colleagues and partners engaged in the fight to save Lake Chad and its environmental resources,

Exactly 56 years ago, four visionary leaders, namely President Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroon, President Diori Hamani of Niger, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria and President Ngarta Tombalbaye of Chad, established the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). Motivated by feelings of brotherhood, solidarity and cooperation, the founding fathers had thus laid the foundation of what, notwithstanding hazards and challenges of all kinds, has shown proof of resistance and resilience. It is, today, a unique regional organization which, had it not been in existence, would have had to be created!

Alas, today we are celebrating this anniversary in an unprecedented context: one created by the Covid-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that spares no continent. Through my voice, the LCBC joins in the efforts of all those who, in one way or another, work tirelessly in the fight against the spread of the virus.

The pandemic has made us to postpone several of our activities, which are nevertheless crucial for the survival of our populations. I would mention just one, and the most important one in my view today: the implementation of the Regional Strategy for stabilizing the areas of the Lake Chad basin affected by the Boko Haram crisis.

This pandemic has completely changed our agenda and work program. As a response to this, we have set up a work rotation and teleworking system both for headquarters staff in N'Djamena, who respect the strict confinement measures laid down by the Chadian authorities, and for staff who are locked down in member countries, who conform to the security regulations of the host countries.

The extent of this crisis is wide and its outcome is still uncertain. Even if a glimmer of hope seems to be emerging in our countries, with the lifting of the lockdown measures here and there in all of our member countries, we are still far from return to normality. I therefore know I can count on your patience, indulgence, and resilience.

Furthermore, we cannot ignore the economic consequences that this crisis will bring, including in our common basin, which has become, today, the crossroads of complex multidimensional crises, the resolution of which requires more sacrifice from all of us.

In this exceptional and difficult period, my thoughts go first to all of you, who are facing this epidemic and its terrible consequences. I urge you to protect yourselves and your loved ones, especially the most vulnerable among them, by strictly following the recommendations issued by the health authorities. The time is one of public-spiritedness and individual moral responsibility. As in all great moments of crisis, the fate of all of us depends on the attitude of everyone.

In this ordeal, my thoughts go quite naturally to the populations of the Lake Chad basin, in particular the victims of the Boko Haram attacks. They also go to the medical staff in our countries, who are mobilized daily to stop this epidemic. They also go to gallant officers and men who, in our member states, are fighting bravely to eradicate Boko Haram, save lives, and preserve and restore peace and stability in the Lake Chad basin.

My thoughts are finally with our leaders, the governments of our member states, and all those who are supporting them not only to stem this pandemic, but also to avoid the economic crisis, to preserve and restore peace, and to intensify research efforts for a global sustainable treatment against not only Covid -19 but also against Boko Haram. In all of these battles, the LCBC is proud to stand alongside its member states and the people of the Lake Chad basin.

This 22 May 2020 therefore constitutes an opportunity to learn from this challenge towards securing more integrating projects and sustainable economic recovery, and towards taking urgent steps against the drying up of Lake Chad and towards a harmonious, prosperous, and sustainable development.

As far as we are concerned, in all our projects and activities, we will put to heart, better than in the past, this ideal of "solidarity and sharing" so dear to the founding fathers of our Commission. This is because, in these difficult times, solidarity and sharing is what we need most. It is this solidarity and this sharing that I would like to express today to all the members of this vast family in the Lake Chad basin region and beyond, to all the populations of our member countries and the international community at large.

Thank you.

Ambassador Mamman NUHU

Executive Secretary,
Head of Mission of the Multinational Joint Task Force

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