By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu has explained that the Federal Government is insisting on the passage of the Water Resources bill because of the immense benefits Nigerians would derive from it.
The Minister who spoke to reporters Thursday shortly after declaring open a two day Sensitization Workshop on the 2013 National Water Resources Master Plan and the Nigeria Accession to the UN Water Convention for Stakeholders in the North Central Geo-Political Zone including Taraba State, held in Makurdi, said “the bill which is before the National Assembly is not a new document.”
Represented by the Director, Water Resources Planning and Technical Support Services in the Ministry, Mrs Alice Ojowu, the Minister explained that the bill contains all old existing laws regulating water resources in the country; “the only difference in the content is the inclusion of the activities of the Water Resources Commission.
“Though people have expressed their displeasure over the bill but the water bill is not harmful at all. If the bill is passed there are so many things to gain from it.
“There are so many benefits attached to it. There are so many projections on water demand by Nigerians and it is through the development of the identified projects and programmes that we will be able to meet up with all the demands for water supply, hydro power generation, irrigation for food security, access to potable water and good hygiene. All these are part of the content of the bill.
“Part of the bill also says that domestic usage of water is free but using it for commercial purpose attracts fees. This will help us to maintain other infrastructure and meet the budgetary allocation on water.
“That is why the ministry is pushing for the passage of the bill so as to ensure that we enjoy all benefits that are attached to it.
“Besides, even the private sector, when they come in and there is no legal instrument they will not be happy to bring in their investment. Water development needs a lot of money and yearly appropriation will not be able to develop the infrastructure.
“So the Ministry is not bring anything that is contentious for the people to adopt. Right now there is an ongoing review of the bill.
“We have engaged a consultant to look at the contentious issues that is in the masterplan and we will see the ones that are acceptable by all stakeholders.
“All stakeholders are being carried along, we have received reports from the Governors’ Forum. That report is with the consultant who is also harmonizing with whatever is being looked into by the National Assembly.
“By the time we come out with that, I think we will have a clean document and everybody will be happy that we have a water law for the development and management of water resources in Nigeria in an integrated manner,” he said.
While declaring the workshop open earlier, the Minister observed that the 2013 National Water Resources Master Plan developed by the Ministry in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperative Agency in 1995 had suffered slow implementation due to lack of political will, weak implementation structure poor justification for budgetary provision and appropriations leading to low implementation of identified projects.