Tasks ahead of water resources minister _ national mirror

Water, as a resource is a vastly untapped phenomenon, it is so ubiquitous and indispensable, occupying a whopping 80% of the earth’s surface. Besides it’s crucial role in irrigation and elec­tricity generation, water also provides a verita­ble means for the exploration and exploitation of other natural resources such as oil and gas which form a substantial part of the revenue of some countries, Nigeria inclusive. Given the importance of water to national de­velopment the federal government, through the Ministry of Water Resources, has undertaken the charge to set forth a road map to actualise its vision and mandate in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda, even as it aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Goals De­velopment (SDGs) initiative, specifically, goals number 2 and 6 which are directly related to wa­ter and food security. Over the years, the merging and de-merging of the ministry by previous administrations, have affected the smooth functioning of this all-important sector in the areas of policy formula­tion and implementation.

With a minister who has an admirable pedi­gree as an engineer with enormous working experience in the water-related sector, positive changes are expected in the sector, to set the ball rolling towards socio-economic development. At the recently concluded retreat convened by the Ministry in Abuja, the Minister, Engr. Su­leiman Adamu , declared that the retreat was “aimed at strengthening weaknesses in the de­livery of the ministry’s mandate and to develop a road map that will enable sustainable positive impact in the water sector within a short peri­od.” The three-day retreat which was held in Abu­ja, was to address, amongst other issues, the re­positioning of the Ministry of Water Resources in line with the vision and mission of the new government, charting a “Roadmap” for contin­uous management, development and enhance­ment of strategies for efficient water supply, availability and utilisation of water resources. Heads of Agencies, Chief Executives of Para­statals brainstormed on diverse issues ranging from making the Water Resources sector a plat­form for extensive and all year round agricul­ture practice for food security, employment, eco­nomic restructuring, and diversification from oil to non-oil revenue, hydropower generation, water supply and sanitation improvement. According to the minister, statistical findings indicate that while previous administrations had strived to raise the water supply accessibil­ity from 58% to 69%, the remaining 31% trans­lating to 52.7 million Nigerians are still being subjected to hazards posed by lack of potable water.

He said: “Significantly, the trend reveals that Nigeria has failed to reach the MDGs target of 75% for improved water supply coverage by 2015.” Since being saddled with the new SDG frame­work benchmark of 100% access to water sup­ply by 2030, it has become increasingly neces­sary to create a road map that would ensure a progressive improvement in water availability throughout this administration and beyond. In this vein, the federal government has re­iterated its commitment towards pursuing the long proposed Inter-Basin Water transfer proj­ect to replenish the Lake Chad from the Congo Basin, which would mitigate adverse environ­mental issues in communities living around the region.

It was maintained that restoring Lake Chad would not only improve the lives of over 40 mil­lion Africans, who directly depend on its water source, but that it would also forestall the de­sertification southwards of the Sahara. This explains why President Muhammadu Buhari during the recently concluded Paris UN Climate Change Conference, made a clarion call to save the Lake Chad from going into ex­tinction due to its current rate of recession. While revealing the enormous potentials of the water sector at the retreat, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Rabi Jimeta, observed that the myriad of challenges bedeviling the sector had hindered effective service delivery. To this end, it was recommended that rel­evant stakeholders in the water-related sec­tors should come to­gether and establish a framework of co-oper­ation for the exchange of data and informa­tion on water resource management, to en­sure better planning and more efficient ser­vice delivery.

Also, it was expedi­ent for the National Assembly to legislate on the National Wa­ter Resource Bill cur­rently in draft form to empower the ministry carry out its statutory functions with ease. The federal govern­ment’s intentions to partner with neigh­bouring countries to find solutions to the various incidences of flooding, drought and dam breakdowns, could be a viable opportunity for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initia­tive of government to thrive. Home-grown industries and other indig­enous innovations should be encouraged and supported to engender citizens’ empowerment, participation and growth of water-based Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs). Since the world has become increasingly globalised in this 21st Century, there have also been various challenges worldwide which Nige­ria can learn from and leverage upon to find so­lutions to existing problems as well as prevent upcoming ones. The recent floods in Chennai, droughts in Ke­nya and earthquakes in Nepal are examples of water-related catastrophes.

Even the recession of the Lake Chad and Cameroun’s Lagdo dam breakdown directly impacts Nigerian territo­ries. The enormous potentials in proper water re­sources management can never be over-empha­sized. Water is life and its ubiquity can be found in various areas of private, national and univer­sal life. Power, Health, Agriculture, Transporta­tion and other sectors owe their functionality to the availability and proper harnessing of water resources. There is no doubt that the communique is­sued at the end of the retreat, would form part of the working tool to strengthen areas of weak­nesses identified, as well as plug loopholes and other leakages which have hitherto constituted challenges in the water sector.

This would in turn enable the present admin­istration’s drive for positive change to progress even more steadily in the right direction. Ni­gerians, especially the grassroots populace, so often the worst hit by the vagaries of water cri­ses, will heave a sigh of relief as they start to enjoy the change they have always desired. Keeping away from sex for four years due to premature ejaculation ……… But these simple solutions WORKED! Click Here to see my breakthrough.

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