In the past, Nigerian politicians used to get away with selling voters pipe dreams and empty promises. But the campaigns for the 2023 elections have shown us Nigerians are no longer gullible and are willing to ask questions. This is why Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), is again under public fire.
What has he done now?
On November 22, 2022, at the inauguration of the first drilling of crude oil in Bauchi State, Tinubu made some promises. But the one that’s got everyone talking is his promise to recharge the Lake Chad. Supporters of rival candidates have ridiculed his plan on social media, but there are important things you should know about the Lake Chad before you take up arms.
What makes the Lake Chad special?
The Lake Chad, once called the epitome of productivity, was one of Africa’s largest freshwater bodies and the world’s sixth-largest inland water body. In the 1960s, it used to have an area of 25,000 square kilometres with about 135 species of fish. Nigeria shares the Lake Chad with Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
How important is the Lake Chad to Nigeria?
Because of how large and rich the water body was, the lake provided a means of livelihood and food for about 30 million people who lived around it. Unfortunately, the water levels began to shrink, and today, it’s reduced by over 95%. The effect of this change has been devastating.
Loss of livelihoods
The lake provided a source of income for people who depended on farming, fishing and cattle herding. But with the water source almost gone, herders battled daily loss of livestock, and farmers and fishermen found it virtually impossible to work.
The loss of income in the areas around the lake pushed many people into a life of crime. Cattle rustling, banditry, and farmer-herdsmen clashes have become the order of the day. About two million people have been displaced from their homes, and over five million people suffer and die from malnutrition.
How would Tinubu’s plan help the Lake Chad?
The blowback over Tinubu’s promise shouldn’t be that recharging the lake is unnecessary, it should be about if he, or whoever becomes president, can address the problem once in office.