Opening The Tap Of Nation’s Water Resources, By Abdulrahman Bello

Going by the Nigeria’s federal structural arrangement, it is not the responsibility of the federal government to provide water in households or for industrial use, but to strategically provide support to various states on needs basis, up to 30% for urban and 50% for rural water supply schemes respectively.

Yet, ignorant of this arrangement, even people that should know tend to blame the federal government for inadequate water supply in the states.

Thus ministers of water resources have onerous task of doing their work and also hand-holding the states to do theirs. This is the prism from which a genuine assessment of the activities of the Federal Ministry of water Resources should be gauged.

The ministry’s agencies and parastatals include the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, National Water Resources Institute, and the 12 River Basin Development Agencies (RBDAs), which have constituted the vehicles through which the ministry contributes to the socio-economic activities of the nation. This much is also less acknowledged by some analysts when it comes to assessing the achievements of the federal ministry. Therefore, the need to highlight some of the works of the ministry is not out of place what with the poor assessment by some media outlets. The ministry’s activities under the leadership of Engr. Suleiman Adamu have been guided by the National Water Resources Master plan (2015 – 2030); United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and the Water Sector Roadmap (2016 – 2030).

The River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) have now been strategically placed to facilitate National Food Security and support employment opportunities. The RBDAs are being constantly revitalised to deliver on their mandate, to the extent that core and relevant professionals are appointed to the headship of the agencies.

For optimal utilisation of River Basin Development Agencies, the ministry is expanding hectares for irrigation farming in Ejule-Ojebe, Gari, Bakalori, Kano River, Hadeja valey and Duku-lade basins toalling 55,000 ha from 2016-date.

Engr. Adamu sees water as one of the key issues of human existence, which makes right of unfettered access to it non-negotiable. The minister’s actions have been guided by his appreciation of the fact that Water Resources is on the concurrent list in the Constitution, with the ministry’s roles relating to policy, administration and regulation of the Water Resources development and management.

In this area, he has turned in an excellent performance, with serious attention to legislative efforts, some of which, admittedly, have not been without controversy. However, it is worthy of note to reiterate that the National Water Resources Bill presently at the NASS is not a new law; rather it is an amalgamation of Water Resources laws that have been in existence such as Water Resource Act, Hydrological Agency and Water Resource Institute, all of 2004.

Engr. Suleiman Adamu, FNSE, Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, considers access to water as not only a human issue; as critical to life; as pivotal to national development; and as critical to the quality growth of its population; but as critical urbanisation and increased agricultural and industrial development. He therefore encourages partnering with the state government to achieve these goals.

The ministry fully implemented the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) Action Programme in the last 12 months where 34 water supply projects have been completed, 159 rural water supply schemes in the North East, IDP camps and some federal institutions and establishments were constructed, 895 water supply schemes in 10 states of Imo, Katsina, Jigawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Sokoto, Ondo, Osun, Delta and Bauchi are under construction, rehabilitation and upgrade leading to additional 2.4 million Nigerians gaining access to water supply in the last 12 months.

The ministry inherited 116 on-going and abandoned projects. The minister categorised these into high, medium and low priorities in an effort to tackle the litany of abandoned projects. The result is 12 high priority projects have been completed and commissioned across the country.

The minister recently asserted that “The water sector is a pillar for food security, job creation, and water supply, sanitation and hydropower generation.”  He used the opportunity to espouse his desire for a well repositioned sector in the last one year as borne out of the Next Level Agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, focusing on the three cardinal issues of economic diversification, social inclusiveness and security which are succinctly aligned with the vision, mission and mandate of the ministry.

The ministry is rehabilitating 185 Water Supply Projects in the 36 states of the federation and FCT; constructing 185 Solar Powered Water Supply Projects (5 per state and FCT); constructing 370 Public Sanitation Facilities (10 per state and FCT); supporting State Water Agencies for their operations to ensure uninterrupted Water Supply; supplying 370 Contactless Hand-washing Facilities with Soap and Sanitizers (10 per state and FCT) and engaging 77,400 Youth Volunteers for Hand-washing and Open Defecation Free Campaigns.

If we turn to irrigation, Nigeria has about 3.14 million ha. of land suitable for irrigation. However, only 128,097 ha. have been developed as at 2015 and about 50,000 ha. of the developed area was lost to failed infrastructure and poor operations and maintenance. The current annual water demand for irrigation in wet and dry seasons including Fadama lands is about 1.926 bcm which translates to about 0.7% of our national internally generated potential. This indicates how much the country has been under-utilising its irrigation potential.

The World Bank is supporting the implementation of Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria Project (TRIMING) with a credit facility of US$495million. The project involves rehabilitation/expansion of about 42,000Ha of irrigation land under the first phase at Bakalori, Kano River, Hadejia valley, Dadin Kowa,and Middle Rima irrigation projects to be completed by 2022.

On the strength of the above accomplishments, I want to believe Nigerians will learn to do their own research rather than relying on some media arm-chair analysts what with the rising fake news industry.

About the Author: Abdulrahman Bello contributed this piece from Abuja

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