The Federal Ministry of Water Resources has called on state governments to remove all barriers preventing the River Basins from having rights to land ownership.
The Director, River Basin Operations and Inspectorate, Mr John Ochigbo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that doing this would promote the realisation of the food security target of the country through investment in agriculture.
According to him, the government alone cannot meet the country’s agriculture needs, citing challenges of insufficient funds, saying Nigerians need to take ownership of these programmes.
He said there was the need for states governments to remove all encumbrances on land ownership and acquisition, saying this was one of the challenges facing the river basins in the country.
“One of the encumbrances we have is around land acquisition, and this is the area that we need the cooperation of the state governments to facilitate the issuance of titles to river basins for them to be able to acquire necessary lands to develop and hand over to farmers.
“We call on the states governments to assist us in facilitating the release and acquisition of lands for farming in their various states.
“I want to use this opportunity to invite investors who are interested in this sector to come and join us in this effort, the government does not have sufficient funds to do it all alone, so we need the funds of the private sector to come into this business.’’
He noted that the minister of water resources had in the last one month appealed to the Economic Council and the governors to assist the ministry and the Federal Government to remove all encumbrances around land acquisition.
According to him, doing so will make it possible for the goals and targets of the river basins to be attainable, so we can launch fully into this programme.
Ochigbo said the ministry was working to reverse the ugly trend which saw abandonment and years of incomplete projects in the basins.
This he noted would be done through the formulation of a Blueprint and Action plan to repositioning the River Basins in the country, hence the promotion of agriculture.
According to him, part of the programme is the inauguration of the Graduate and Youth Empowerment Programme which has benefited no fewer than 500 unemployed youths.
He said the ministry was optimistic that with continued support and commitment, the Programme would go a long way in promoting food security and job creation.
The director said the department had been equipped with technical staff, approval and appointment of boards of River Basin development Authorities to ensure commitment to change the narratives of revitalising the basins for self-sufficiency.
He said the minister was already working to ensure procurement of new earth moving equipment to see that they meet the food security need of the nation, saying the obsolete ones were being disposed.
The director said implementation of the National Irrigation Policy had led to the development of more hectares of land for irrigation farming, adding that responses have already been received from commercial farmers.
“We have received several applications from farmers that are asking for land to engage the commercial farming.’’
He expressed optimism that in few years to come, Nigerians would begin to see the investment of the present administration in the river basins.
NAN reports that the Department of River Basin Operations is in charge of coordinating activities of the 12 River Basin Development Authorities.
By Tosin Kolade