The Federal Government says it will cease being a father Christmas by just executing water projects and handing them over to the 36 state governments.
“We have to see their own commitment as well. The Federal Government has decided to reduce its intervention in state water projects.
“The maximum commitment by FG to states henceforth will be 30 per cent as it has been discovered that some states are deliberately laidback and unwilling to do their parts in maintaining projects sited in their states,” Water Resources Minister, Sulaiman Adamu, said at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
Persecondnews reports that he had featured in the weekly ministerial media briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team.
“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 the federal ministry of water resources cannot run a water scheme on a daily basis.
“After completion, we handed over to the state government. A year after we went back, it was not in use. It was for 13 communities of 120,000 people, the state government locked it. We asked why they said they can’t afford to N2 or 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 by just doing these projects and handing them over to them. We have to see their own commitment as well,” Adamu insisted.
The minister made specific reference to Bayelsa State where N6 billion Otuoke water project meant to serve 13 communities of 120,000 people was locked up by the state government because it claimed it cannot afford the N2 or N3 million a month to provide diesel, pay for staff and chemicals.
“The state that locked up water project because they could not afford N3 million is Bayelsa state and the project is Otueke water supply project.”
He announced that seven states — Bauchi, Delta, Ekiti, Imo, Katsina, Kaduna and Plateau — will benefit from the first tier of the World Bank $700 million for specific water projects in the country.
“The states will access between $50 or $60 million having met the criteria set up by the World Bank.
“Some certain criteria were set up by the World Bank and us. And the states had to meet these eligible criteria. And the projects are submitted into tier one and tier two. Tier one is for those that will get a substantial amount, maybe $50, $60 million for the urban schemes.
“For the P-WASH (Plan – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Action Plan, is the rural component and it is going to the states specifically. Some are going as grants while some of it is going to some specific projects.
“Like I said, there are eligibility criteria that states ought to have met, it is not all the 36 states. There are conditions attached on which basis that this money is going to be disbursed.
“So, the whole thing has not been finalised yet, but what we have is approval in general from the World Bank specifically for this. There will be some realignments here and there and that’s something that we are going to be working on between our ministry, Ministry of Finance and the World Bank,” Adamu explained.
On the 116 ongoing and abandoned projects in the ministry, he assured that the Federal Government was already working on them.
According to him, 38 irrigation, 458 water supply schemes and 37 dams and reservoirs have so far been completed.
On the National Water Resources Bill currently before the National Assembly, Adamu said in spite of the controversies surrounding it, the government would push ahead with the bill.
Noting that the bill has been “deliberately politicized”, the minister said:” The government has taken a definite stand on the bill to regulate the water delivery system notwithstanding what he called misinformation being bandied about it.
“We are 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.
“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.
“ln any case, 96, 97 per cent 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.
“That is why today, we are 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.
“What this means is that whereas on the basis of the Water Resources Act that is existing, I as Minister can’t determine where any project can be put without any recourse to anybody. Under this new Integrated Water Resources Management concept, we will 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 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.
“This is the organisation that provides licencing, you cannot get a licence to have a power plant without a water licence. Right? That’s what is happening now through the Integrated Water Management Commission. So, this law, also there is a provision within the bill to strengthen this agency.
“All the people that are mining water, have to go there to get a water licence and pay a tariff, it is gazetted by law. But right now, they are operating on the basis of delegated powers of the minister. And what we want is for them to stand alone. That means I can withdraw these delegated powers anytime and apply them myself,” he said.
Adamu stressed: “But if we have what we have provided in the bill, there will be independence, as the National Electricity Regulatory Commission. They will not be answerable to the Minister, they will be answerable to the people.
“The bill provides that the Commission will have members nominated by the president, cleared by the National Assembly, they have to be confirmed by the National Assembly and they will be representatives of all the geopolitical zones of this country.
“So, we are democratizing the process of Water Resources development in this country.
“And some people went to town and said that we want to cheat people. The exact thing this bill is trying not to do is what is being fed into the minds of people. And I don’t understand why. We have talked, we have talked and we will keep talking. Well, we are committed to this.”