By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
No fewer than seven states of the federation will benefit, at least $60 million from the $700 million World Bank Urban Water Schemes Loan which the Federal Government has secured for the Tier One states.
Also, the Federal Government is determined to continue with the push for the National Assembly (NASS) the Water Resources Bill which has been kept in view by the Senate following an uproar against the introduction of the new Bill.
The Honourable Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Hussein Adamu made these disclosures on Thursday at the Weekly Ministerial Briefing at Villa, Abuja, during which he provided key updates on critical issues and other strides being made in the vast area of Water Resources Infrastructure by President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
According to him the seven states to benefit from these funds are Katsina, Imo, Plateau, Kaduna, Delta, Bauchi and Ekiti even as he said he would have loved not to disclose their names yet.
“The seven benefiting. You know, I wouldn’t have wanted to speak about it but because like I said these things are a bit dynamic. Some things can change at some point maybe one state may fail to address certain issues and the World Bank may decide it should be dropped. But so far for information sake, their names are Imo, Katsina Delta, Plateau, Kaduna, Ekiti, and Bauchi.
“Those are the first Tier States that will have the maybe $50 or 60 million. And mind you it is optional, because these loans are not federal government loans, the federal government is guaranteeing the loans but it is going to the states, and it is the states that will pay back this loan eventually. The seven states that are getting the first one, they will get about $50 or $60 million to do specific water projects”, the Minister posited.
On Federal Government’s Dams and Irrigation Schemes across the country, Adamu said alot have been achieved as President Buhari’s administration has rehabilitated and completed my of the moribund schemes dating back to the Second Republic government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
But lamented that
many states have failed to utilise the schemes, accusing them of still expecting that after spending billions of Naira to do the dams that the federal government should go ahead and provide the Water Schemes.
Said he: “And to some extent, we’ve even done that. I know of two places where the federal government built the dam and the treatment plant and the states didn’t use them. And I know a scheme that we commissioned N6 billion, handed over to the state government because we don’t operate water boards, because the Federal Minister of Water Resources cannot run a water scheme on a daily basis.
“So after completion, we handed over to the state government. A year after we went back, it was not in use. It was 13 communities 120,000 people, the state government locked it. We asked why, they said they can’t afford to N2, N3 million a month to provide diesel and pay for staff and chemicals. So what can we do?
“And that is why we said the federal government is no longer going to be a father Christmas just doing this project and handing over to them. We have to see their own commitment as well.
“The state that locked up water project because they could not afford N3 million. It is Bayelsa state and its Otueke water supply project”, the Minister revealed.
On the latest on the Water Resources Bill, Adamu said:
“Well, we’re still working with the National Assembly on this Bill. I think probably they were so engrossed with the PIB and the Electoral Bill, which are of course, serious national priorities, and they were not able to come to talk about it.
“But already, we have done all the things that needed to be done. The issue that was raised the technical issue about gazetting had been addressed. So the bill is still before the National Assembly.
“Obviously, I have said so much about this bill, people have been deliberately misinformed. The bill was deliberately politicised unnecessarily something that is good for the development of the country.
“And in any case, 96% 97% of the provisions in that bill are already existing in four different laws. Water Resources Act 2004, Nigeria Hydrological Services Act, River Basin Development Authorities Act, and the National Water Resources Institute Act.
“The first purpose of bringing this bill was to put all these bills under one booklet, instead of having four separate laws, just consolidate them into one statute. That is number one. Number two, is that Nigeria, like all other countries in the world has adopted the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management.
“And that is why today we’re enjoying the category two UNESCO centre of Integrated River Basin Management that is based in Kaduna, it is a centre of excellence, funded by UNESCO to promote integrated River Basin Management and we are getting people from all parts of West Africa region to come and learn about River Basin management there.
“So on the basis of that, powers that were hitherto vested in the Minister of Water Resources, are being devolved to the communities, to stakeholders within the basins. And what this means is that whereas on the basis of the Water Resources Act that is existing, I as Minister can determine where any project can be put without any recourse to anybody.
“Under this new Integrated Water Resources Management concept, we’ll have to go down and talk to the communities involved. We have to have their buy in, we have to agree so we’ll have to hold a town hall meetings, we have to set up catchment management committees, the Integrated Water system management commission that is saddled with that responsibility was set up in 2007. It’s existing the executive directors is here”, he concluded.