Says 253 farmlands leased for commercial farming
Calls on Water Council to support, sustain drive for Water Bill passage
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, Thursday, disclosed that the River Basin Development Authorities, RBDAs, has boost food production and security in five years with massive creation of employment.
Adamu who made the disclosure in his keynote address during the opening ceremony of the 27th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources, held in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Managing Water Resources Crisis: the Nigerian Experience’.
According to him 253 farmlands have been leased to the private sector for commercial farming, out of which 181 are fully utilized and process for the partial commercialization of four pilot RBDAs is underway.
He maintained that within five years of his appointment as Minister of the water sector a lot have been achieved with many projects completed and ongoing and as a result there is increase in access to water resources by Nigerians for different purposes and uses.
He said two dams completed in Amauzari in Imo State and the Amla-Otukpo Earth dam in Benue State; Under Public Private Partnership (PPP) Gurara Hydropower plant (30 MW) was Concessioned on 12th May 2020; Commenced the concessioning process for the Kashimbilla Dam (with 40MW Hydropower plant) concessioning process with the appointment of Transaction Adviser in June 2020; signed an MoU with Kaduna State on Itisi Multipurpose Dam (with 40MW Hydropower plant) in May 2020; Signed an EPC contract in May 2020 for the Gurara II Multipurpose Dam (with 360MW Hydropower plant); Signed a completion contract in June 2020 for the Farin Ruwa Multipurpose Dam (with 20MW Hydropower plant); Completed the Dadin Kowa Dam (with 40MW Hydropower plant) and is awaiting commissioning; Appointed a Facility manager for operation and maintenance of the Gurara Water Transfer Project to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); and in partnership with the Enugu State Government, where the State Government will put in place the necessary infrastructure for distribution and reticulation of treated water sourced from the Adada River Dam.
He said: “The River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) remain the most strategically placed Federal Government Agencies to facilitate National Food Security and support employment opportunities.
“Therefore, the RBDAs are being constantly revitalized to deliver their mandate. Consequently, the Songhai Model – an integrated Agricultural Practice introduced to boost Agricultural production and achieve integrated rural development commenced in 2015 and has been replicated in five RBDAs. To date, 253 farmlands have been leased to the private sector for commercial farming, out of which 181 are fully utilized.
“Underway is the process for the partial commercialization of four pilot RBDAs namely: Ogun-Osun, Niger-Delta, Upper Niger and Sokoto-Rima.”
The Minister also explained that with effort made by the Federal Government towards achieving food production and security there is focus on irrigation projects, which it has recorded appreciable achievement in that regard, and has put in place mechanisms to sustain it.
“The focus is to complete as many on-going irrigation projects across the country with the target to increase the command areas under irrigation towards increased food production in line with the policy thrust of this administration.
“To this end, the following irrigation schemes have been rehabilitated or completed. Sector 1 of Gari Irrigation Project (248ha); Bakalori Irrigation Scheme (4,825ha); Kano River Irrigation Scheme (1,600ha); Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme (2,250ha); Rehabilitation of Duku-Lade Irrigation Project (800ha); and Ejule-Ojebe (50 ha) and Middle Rima Irrigation Project (2,746ha).
“Under the On-going Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) Project, a World Bank assisted programme, over 35,900 hectares of land, when completed, will be added to the existing irrigation area. The Project will also reduce the hazard potential(s) of existing dams while about 625,000 jobs will be created and 520,000 additional tons of rice and other cereals will be produced annually. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic experience of the year, significant progress has been made on these projects”, he said.
However, the Minister decried controversy the National Water Resources Bill has generated and described it as undermining the country’s health, unsafe drinking water, its agriculture battling with under production, threatening national food security, while the sources of water supply have been subjected to much abuse with the attendant threat on the environment by those who do not understand the contents of the Bill.
He also highlighted benefits of the Bill if passed into law, which the Ministry has engaged with the relevant stakeholders including the National Assembly Committee on Water Resources, Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum, media, and others.
According to him the Bill is a holistic document that contains provision for the Establishment and Management of all the Agencies under the FMWR including the River Basin Development Authorities, which will bring about enormous benefits such as establishment of a regulatory framework for the equitable, beneficial, efficient and sustainable development, management, use & conservation of the country’s surface and ground Water Resources and other matters connected thereto and the nations Water Resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in ways which will take into account the following factors amongst others.
On citizen’s right to access of clean water and sanitation he explained that it will meet basic human needs of present and future generations; Adopting hydrological boundaries as the basic units for Water Resources management; Protecting the water environment for sustainability of the resources and protection of aquatic ecosystems and recognizing the polluter pays principle; Providing for existing customary uses of water and avoidance of significant harm to other water user; Supporting initiatives to reduce and prevent pollution and degradation of Water Resources; Promoting the efficient, sustainable and beneficial use of water in the public interest.
He said: “The Bill is therefore the manifestation of the government’s desire to ensure that the citizens derive maximum benefits from the country’s Water Resource endowments and potentials.
“Contrary to the narrative of the naysayers, the Bill, which is the product of extensive national consultations, just consolidates four existing laws with the country’s international obligations to ensure the equitable and sustainable development, management, use and consideration of Nigeria’s Water Resources.
“Though the Ministry has outlined Action Plan to create awareness on the Bill, I therefore urge this honourable Council to collaborate with the Ministry to educate stakeholders within their domain.
“The passage of this Bill will stimulate private sector investment as the Federal Government budgetary allocation cannot meet up with the demands of this essential services to all Nigerians.”
However, while declaring the Regular Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources, open, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mohammed Bello, charged the Council on playing active role in explaining clearly about the National Water Resources Bill.
“As Council you have a very important role to play to ensure that this is done. There is a need for you as members of council across the entire nation to take ownership of the National Water Resources Bill to be able to explain in clear terms on this particular legislation for us to really harness the enormous potential we have from our water resources”, Bello stated.
He also called on the commissioners to take ownership of the water projects in their respective states for citizens in their states to enjoy the flow of water to their houses and the irrigation facilities adequately utilized, and also to ensure there is access to the projects.