Nigerians misunderstood FG’s Water Resources Bill – Minister

“We are aware that it has been misunderstood, however, it is clear that the Bill is not with any negative intention, but rather to promote Sustainable Integrated Water Resources Management Nationwide. “We are highly committed, not only to increase food production through irrigated agriculture, the sustainability in the operation and management of the public irrigation schemes in the country.

The Federal Government on Tuesday expressed its strong commitment to massively invest in the irrigation sub-sector to make Nigeria’s food and water secured and expressed regret that the water resources bill was gravely misunderstood by stakeholders.

Mr Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, made this known at the opening ceremony of a three-day South-West Regional Workshop on Establishment/Strengthening of Water Users Associations (WUAs) for Management of Public Irrigation Schemes in Ibadan.

The workshop was organised by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, in collaboration with Ogun-Osun and Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority.

Adamu, represented by Mrs Esther Walson-Jack, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that government aimed at moving from drought-prone, rain-fed agriculture to irrigated agriculture for self-sufficiency.

“Permit me to reiterate the strong commitment of the Federal Government to massively invest in irrigation sub-sector to make Nigeria food and water secured.

“This will be done by moving from drought-prone, rain-fed agriculture to irrigated agriculture for self sufficiency,” he said.

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Adamu said that the workshop was third in the series of workshops planned to establish or strengthen water users of Public Irrigation Schemes for effective and efficient management of the schemes.

He said it was unfortunate that Nigerians misunderstood the ministry’s Water Resources Bill, which would have addressed various issues in the water sector and provide sufficient food for the teeming populace.

The minister said it was clear that the Bill was not with any negative intention, but rather, to promote sustainable integrated water resources management nationwide.

He said that the ministry had identified irrigation sub-sector as one of the key policy thrusts to help government lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the year 2030.

According to the minister, to this effect, Water Bill is being presented to address various issues in the water sector.

“We are aware that it has been misunderstood, however, it is clear that the Bill is not with any negative intention, but rather to promote Sustainable Integrated Water Resources Management Nationwide.

“We are highly committed, not only to increase food production through irrigated agriculture, the sustainability in the operation and management of the public irrigation schemes in the country.

“But, also to ensuring greater efficiency and equity in the distribution and use of these resources for the general wellbeing of all Nigerians,” he said.

In her remarks, Walson-Jack said the workshop was coming at a time frantic was being made to put in place far-reaching measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s economy.

The permanent secretary, whose speech was delivered by the Director-General Services in the ministry, Mr Kayode Adamson, said that government had recognised the pivotal role of the water sector as a driver of development.

“In this regard, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is resolute in her task of supporting the Federal Government’s goal of lifting 100 million people out of poverty by the year 2030.

“In order to enhance active participation and full operation of irrigation and drainage projects, it is imperative that farmers should be well established and strengthened with appropriate legal framework.

“The concept whereby the farmers take charge of operation and maintenance of Public Irrigation Scheme is being promoted by the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING),” she said.

Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State promised that the state government would continue to collaborate with relevant Federal Government agencies on adequate provision of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural use.

Makinde, represented by Najeem Omirinde, the State Chairman of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), expressed satisfaction over the hosting of the workshop in Ibadan.

Also, Mr Olufemi Odumosu, the Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority, said that large turnout of relevant stakeholders at the workshop showed that they were ready to unlock the irrigation potential.(NAN)

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