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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Why Water Resources Ministry should be given rightful premium

An open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari highlights reasons why the Ministry of Water Resources should not be merged 


Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria
Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria

Dear Mr. President,

I consider this write-up a rare privilege to express my gratitude for your emergence as the President of this great nation. To top the gladness, your strong intent that craves for uncommon changes in every sector is another thing to be excited about. I, therefore, consider it necessary to quickly highlight and echo the age-long mistakes of myopic looks and impressions on water resources sector in the country.

As popularly quoted:

“Water is Life”

“Human body contains 70% Water”

“Water occupies 70% of world Space”

These quotes are not fallacies or mere illusion, but truth in its original state.

Having said that, I wish to state here that the attention given to the Water Sector by the various past governments in Nigeria had been so little and grossly inadequate. It has, so far, not been sufficient for a country which equally needs to undoubtedly survive and thrive on its water resources.

Mr. President, it is expedient to state that, on the basis of experience, previous mergers, submerging or subsuming the Federal Ministry of Water Resources under any other ministry will not only cause deficiency to the water resources meant to be enjoyed. It will also stifle or kill its natural vision and, consequently, cause many more hardships to the populace from abandoned water projects as was the case in the last merging of 2009-2011. At that period there were high cases of:

  • Water related diseases which contribute immensely to the dwindling economic growth of the country;
  • Scarcity of potable water – several water producers do fold up during merger periods;
  • Acute shortage of good quality drinking water in Nigeria;
  • Inadequacy in harnessing water resources in different geo-political zones of the country;
  • Causes shortage or set-backs in providing job opportunities for Nigerian populace.
  • The need to vigorously pursue our natural vision, our mandate and course to provide water to meet social and economic needs of growing populace shall be shattered as was the case in the last merging exercise.
  • The set-back caused will require triple effort in terms of time, human and material resources; to reverse and get the vision back on track.

With the enormous challenges in the water sector, I strongly believe that charting a new course for the Ministry through its Departments, Agencies and stakeholders which was embodied in the Nigeria Water Sector Road Map would enhance the attainment of Nigeria’s vision 20:2020 targets, MDGs Agenda and Africa Water Vision 2025 which are paramount and not to be subsumed.

Also, I strongly advocate that topmost priority should be given to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for the speedy commitment to:

  • Water Sector: improving access to potable water, flood control, drought mitigation
  • Agriculture Sector: irrigation to support agriculture revolution, food security programme
  • Tourism Sector: tourism development
  • Environment Sector: environmental sustainability, douse ecological threat, Kashimbilla Dam as a major source of life and economic driver to benefit Nigeria and especially the host communities
  • Health Sector: provide Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality (NSDWQ) to checkmate water quality that translate to health related issues
  • Power Sector: hydropower generation

The Presidential Summit on Water convened in February 2013 achieved a lot of success and has widened the horizon of the water sector in the nation; subsuming it under any ministry now may most likely truncate the vision and cause another trend of setbacks.

Generally, the vision is to be the vehicle of the nations integrated water resources management, contributing optimally to the socio-economic activities of the nation through comprehensive planning. And provision of the enabling environment for integrated conservation, development and management of various water uses, for the preservation of the quality and quantity of fresh water ecosystems, leading to improved environmental protection, adequate access to safe water and sanitation, development of irrigated agriculture for food security and for sustainable livelihoods, as well as equitable allocation of all the aforementioned, amongst all riparian communities locally and internationally.

Its agencies and units carry out different responsibilities that are enormous and too important to cage and subsume under any ministry and parastal. These responsibilities covers capacity building in the sector and large water projects that ensure food security, thereby empower Nigerians economically.

Mr. President Sir, the fact and the truth of the need for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to be independent of any ministry can be verified and holistically taken into consideration. You will find out that merging the sector is like maiming the 70% of one’s body, life and our world which may not likely bring a palatable reason for existence. In other words, for this country to successfully grow, It is pertinent that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) stand alone as a ministry and not be merged with any other ministry because it is an economic driver organisation being the basis for development of many other sectors in the nation.

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Suleiman Lasun, pointed out this importance when he recommended that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources should not be merged as published in the National Mirror newspaper of June 26, 2015.

Again, with the global trend, water and sanitation is now taking pre-eminence as this sector safeguards the well-being of the populace’s health and leading to increase in economic development of any nation.

Therefore, I humbly suggest that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources should not be merged with any other ministry, but the Ministry should rather be given its rightful premium.

Congratulations once again sir, and thank you for taking this issue into critical consideration and accept the assurance of my highest esteem.

By Olaiya Ola-Bamidele in Abuja

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