Delay in passage of Water Resources Bill, major setback- FG

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SULEIMAN Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, has expressed worry that delay in passage of the National Water Resources Bill is a major setback to actualisation reforms in the water resources sector.

Adamu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the bill, which was still before the Senate, would address all the grey areas, especially on the road map and other concerns in the sector.

He expressed optimism that the 9th Assembly would address all grey areas and speedy up its passage toward vigorous regulation of the water resources sector in proper licensing, avoiding indiscriminate borehole drilling and empowerment of water users’ association.

According to him, some progress has been made on its 15-year roadmap with full completion of 20 out of 116 projects inherited from previous administration, saying on dams alone, four additional dams would be completed before 2021.

He said that with regards to river basins, the ministry was trying to make them more relevant with emphasis on agriculture and rural development, using the concept of Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING).

The minister said that such efforts were being done using the Songhai Model of agriculture had yielded massive returns of investment with poverty reduction and youth empowerment.

“We have been able to transform the river basins, we are trying to get them to be more relevant to agriculture and rural development and therefore the concept of TRIMING has been embedded into the river basin development authorities.

“We introduced the Songhai model which some of them have started implementing, it’s all coming in phases depending on the on how much money they are able to get from the allocation.

“We also have the graduate and youth empowerment programme which is going on in some river basins.”

Adamu said that Federal Government had begun negotiations for partial commercialisation of the river basins, adding that a comprehensive study in conjunction with the National Council on privatisation with the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) was being analysed.

Adamu said that the ministry had introduced the restoration and restructuring of essential services of river basins by ensuring that they were in line with the core mandate of supporting irrigated agriculture and not constituency projects.

“There have been a lot of distortions because many zonal intervention projects (constituency projects) always creep in and we try to make sure that even with that, they don’t lose focus of their main mandate which is to support irrigation agriculture.

“I always remind them that they should know that they are enablers, and not a limited liability company, when they are giving their progress report, you hear them say they have built water bottling company, and I tell them no.

“I asked how much have you impacted on the surrounding communities, the farmers around the basins, that is the most important thing, how many hectares of irrigation have you added and that’s what we task them every year.

“They must come and report to use how many hectares of irrigation have they added from the last budget and how much produce have they been able to generate.”

The minister said Federal Government was also discussing modalities to see how private investors could come into the tourism sector, with the use of land and dams as resorts and overall economic development.

He said that discussions had started with Kaduna state government to see how the land in the Gurara dam area would be expanded with the private sector spearheading it.

“We are looking at opportunities in tourism, we have lots of dams that can be used in recreational activities and these are areas that we are looking into. We are already talking with some investors, particularly on Gurara dam.

“We just had presentations recently that in addition to the farms, the water transfer to lower Usuma dam, and the 30 megawatts, that we can also build a beautiful tourist resosrt around that place with lots of amenities.

“We are also looking at that possibility within the land that we own as Federal Ministry of Water Resources.’’

NAN

– June 22, 2020 @ 13:49 GMT |

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