The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, says privatising mini hydro dams is critical in addressing agriculture and power generation needs of the country.
Suleiman spoke when he appeared on the Forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, it can improve rural economy by serving as an alternative source of energy for rural electrification.
“Because most of these dams like Bakolori, Jebba and Ikere Gorge can really support the economy around their areas,’’ Adamu said.
The minister, however, blamed the inability to harness the enormous hydro power potential on long period of neglect and poor maintenance culture.
“When our irrigation pumping system was developed in the 1970s and 1980s, diesel was very cheap.
“Now one of the reasons our irrigation system is not efficient is because we cannot sustain the purchase of diesel to run the generators.
“In my ministry, we are looking at converting many of them to solar.
“One painful thing is that if you go to Bakolori it has about 5.6 megawatts of hydro power, that hydro power when the system was new used to power the sprinkles system there and the pumps.
“But15 years after that scheme was inaugurated, the hydro power was no longer working because of operational and maintenance issues.
“So, we can use them to power irrigation systems; we can power agro processing industries around the irrigation facilities.
“There is so much that can be done,’’ Adamu stressed.
He urged state governments to prioritise investment in the water sector with a view to increase water supply to Nigerians.
The minister expressed worry that many states lack the political will to provide water and sanitation which he identified as basic ingredients of life.
“Many states are not prioritising water, some states instead of water, they build airports, instead of water, we are dualising highways and they are building universities.
“Not that they are bad but, you need to reorder your priorities. Water and sanitation are the basic ingredients of life.
“Start with the basics, make sure that those problems are solved before you move on to the next level,’’ Adamu said.
According to him, because it was not much of a priority, states have not been investing much in water supply for the people.
“Maybe because water is too expensive, and they don’t realise that water is dynamic. If you want to provide adequate supply of water, you must be steps ahead of the population.
“So, before your population hits 10 million in a year let’s say by 2025, you should have adequate water infrastructure supply for 12 million people.
“And by the time the population reaches 13 million people, you have already started the process of improving your facility to reach 20 million people.
“So, by the time the population reaches 20 million people, you keep moving and that’s the way to deal with issues of water and health facilities,” Adamu said.
By Ikenna Uwadileke