66th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of LCBC
As a result of COVID 19, the 66th ordinary session of the Council of Ministers of LCBC member countries was held by videoconference on Thursday, 15 April 2021. Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, Honourable Minister of Water Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, First Commissioner of Nigeria to LCBC and Current Chairman of the Council of Ministers, chaired the meeting. Deliberations focused on reviewing statutory issues such as the financial situation of the Commission and adopting the Annual Work Programme and Budget for 2021.
The Council follows the Meeting of National Experts preparatory to the 66th ordinary session of the Council of Ministers of this sub-regional organisation responsible for the harmonious management of water and environmental resources of the Lake Chad Basin. The meeting of National Experts was held physically from 24 to 26 February 2021 in N’Djamena, with experts and focal points of the member countries.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet, Minister of State, Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic of Chad, highlighted the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic in this part of the world, mainly because of the already fragile living conditions, the weakness of the health systems, the degree of poverty of the populations as well as the already limited budgetary leeway of member states. This pandemic, he continued, has worsened the complex multidimensional challenges that beset the Lake Chad Basin, such as insecurity, poverty, and climate change. Mr Kalzeube stressed the need to strengthen cooperation and solidarity among member states. The Minister further underscored the need to continue pursuing the development plan of the Basin, despite security and health constraints. In this regard, he reiterated the support of Chad in the cause of the Lake Chad Basin, an ambition that unites common ideals. The Minister urged member states to meet their obligations to enable LCBC to continue carrying out its missions serenely. All this, under the enlightened vision and solid political will displayed by the Heads of State and Government, in the determined march towards the well-being and harmonious development of the populations and the Lake Chad Basin.
In his remarks, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, Executive Secretary of the LCBC, highlighted the Sahel region’s security and health challenges. This challenge calls for joint efforts to improve resilience and consolidate the achievements made. Ambassador Nuhu also stressed the need to increase investment in innovative sectors such as the green economy, renewable energy, and communication infrastructure, which are essential for the opening and development of the area and new development programmes and projects. The Executive Secretary ended by urging Commissioners to make more significant efforts in advocating for the cause of LCBC with their respective States and Governments. These efforts will accelerate the payment of outstanding contributions or arrears – for states who are not up to date. The contributions will enable the Commission to carry out, in a concerted, integrated, and inclusive framework, all the beneficial development initiatives and actions that our populations so severely need to flourish and assert themselves.
In her remarks on behalf of the Technical and Financial Partners (TFPs), especially partners supporting the Regional Strategy for the Stabilisation, Recovery and Resilience of the Lake Chad Basin Areas Affected by the Boko Haram Crisis, Mrs Ulla Andren, Head of Development Cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa at the Swedish Embassy in Addis Abeba, thanked LCBC and its member states for the commendable efforts made in the implementation of the RSS. Mrs Ulla reiterated the support of TFPs, namely Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, the United States, and the European Union, for their support in the implementation of this comprehensive, inclusive, and participatory regional strategy. She recalled the milestones already set with the establishment of the Regional Stabilisation Facility.
Engr. Suleiman Adamu described the major upheavals, including the COVID-19 pandemic, that have occurred in the world since the last session of the Council, with its harmful economic, social, and humanitarian consequences. This tragedy adds to the multiple and complex challenges facing our region, significantly reducing the capacity of member states to fight against poverty and insecurity. In the face of these numerous challenges, addressing stability, peace, and security is more topical than ever, he added. Therefore, while reviewing the efforts made by LCBC, we must give these challenges and threats that I have just mentioned a high order of priority. This priority will enable us to extend the efforts of member states through the acceleration of the implementation of the RSS, the pursuit of new development projects and programmes at all levels, the revitalisation of the strategy of diversification and mobilisation of internal and external resources in favour of the various regional cooperation and integration projects, the increase of our operational capacities and the rationalisation of our efforts. He concluded by congratulating and thanking Commissioners for the many actions to strengthen LCBC and enable it to carry out its missions serenely, by further pleading the cause of LCBC with their respective States allocation of resources indispensable for the serene continuation of its activities.
At the end of their deliberations, which lasted more than three hours, Commissioners congratulated the Executive Secretariat for the quality of his report and the results obtained during the year 2020, despite the Covid-19 health crisis. They also praised National Experts for the clarity and relevance of their report. After deliberations, Commissioners approved the 2021 Annual Work Plan and Budget of the Executive Secretariat worth FCFA 26,203,472,000 (twenty-six billion two hundred and three million four hundred and seventy-two thousand), including FCFA 24,424,572,000 for development and FCFA 1,778,900,000 for recurrent expenditures. Regarding the financial situation of LCBC, Commissioners unanimously agreed to liaise with their respective governments to ensure the regular and timely payment of their Contributions. Furthermore, Commissioners urged the Executive Secretariat to explore new sources of financing to make up for the inadequacy of the contributions of the member states.
Thus, the Council adopted the report of the National Experts and approved a dozen resolutions, including the report on the recruitment of staff at LCBC, the conduct of a gender audit and the implementation of a diversification policy, considering gender, etc. Finally, Commissioners expressed their deep gratitude to Technical and Financial Partners for their constant support to LCBC.
On behalf of all his peers, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, current Chairman of the Council of Ministers, addressed a message of thanks to H.E. Marshal Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic of Chad, the Government and the people of Chad. He thanked them for accepting to host the preparatory meeting of the Council of Ministers and the excellent arrangements made and the generous hospitality extended to delegates, who contributed immensely to the success of this 66th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers. Niamey – Niger will host the 67th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of LCBC member countries at the end of 2021.