…Says efficient municipal water supply, panacea to borehole proliferation***
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu has pledged his commitment toward full passage of the National Water Resources bill into law.
Adamu, who made this call when he was featured on the newsmen interview forum in Abuja reiterated that the bill was for the overall benefit of all Nigerians.
He said it was saddening that antagonists of the bill went hysterical, giving it different colourations, saying that the outright call for the bill to be thrown out was against water resources development.
Adamu said his ministry had debunked all arguments against the bill through routine continuous media rounds, saying the next step was to await another public hearing if need be.
“Some of the people that are vehemently opposing this bill are the ones that stand to benefit and the ones that are mostly protected.
“For instance, in the riverine areas, if you don’t have a law that protects the interstate waters, because 80 per cent of the freshwater of this country, they flow from north to south into the Atlantic.
“If you don’t have this kind of protection for the downstream end, what will happen?” he wondered.
Adamu said if states like Kebbi where River Niger comes in or Adamawa where River Benue flows in decided they wanted to control the water at their end, it would affect the downstream communities.
“That is why since independence, our constitution has made it that the water that flows across inter-state or inter-regional boundaries as it were at that time, the responsibility for that should be vested by the Federal Government.
“So there is nothing unusual about it, and this is what is obtained everywhere in the world,’’ he said.
Adamu said Nigeria entered into a treaty with eight other countries in the early sixties to form the Niger Basin Authority, saying such partnership had seen the survival of Kainji and Jebba dams.
He urged all those with conflicting opinions to present them at the proposed public hearing, alleging that they were only determined to rubbish the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“You know, this bill went through so many things, including a review by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who is one of the leading legal experts, experts on environmental law and their opinion is that there is nothing wrong with this bill.
“So, why tie it to politics when it should be tied to development? I think we should we should opt out of that cocoon for those that are opposed to the bill and please have an open mind about it and look at it,” Adamu said.
“We will continue to pursue this bill because it’s our responsibility as government and as the ministry and many experts were involved in this in the formulation of this bill for the past, close to 20 years,’’ he said.
The minister said he would not allow the actions of critics to mock efforts to reposition the water resources sector, saying the bill was the major instrument to make it happen.
“So, to the last day that I am Minister in this ministry, I will continue to pursue this bill to its logical conclusion,’’ he said.
In the same vein, the Minister of Water Resources, Malam Suleiman Adamu, says one of the most important ways to tackle the proliferation of boreholes in Nigeria is to put in place an efficient municipal water supply system.
Adamu also called for standard regulations to reduce the proliferation of boreholes.
The minister who was answering questions as a guest on the newsmen forum in Abuja on Sunday said the efficient municipal water supply is essential.
“If there is efficient municipal supply, if the water supply schemes, and all urban schemes are working, there will be no need to drill boreholes.
“You can take delivery of water through your pipe into your house regularly and efficiently, then there is no reason for anybody to have a borehole,” Adamu added.
He said enforcing standard regulations was not meant to stifle but to regulate the activities of borehole drillers.
The minister said that when regulations were in place, licenses could be issued to ascertain how much water was being abstracted.
Adamu explained that there is bound to be “interference” in a situation whereby everybody was drilling a borehole at his backyard in a small building.
“If they are running these boreholes at the same time, there will be interference and one borehole will dry up for the other to have water.
“If one pump is more powerful than the other one, the other one will not get the water.
So you have wasted your investment,” he said.
Adamu said what is needed is to get an independent credible regulator to support urban water.
“What we need is for states to support, and maybe subsequently, when we get a credible and independent regulator, then the private sector can come in and support urban water provision.
“Once we improve on the delivery of water supply in the urban centers, then that will be fine,” he said.
Adamu said that rural areas, due to their economy of scale and small population, did not need more than a borehole or an open well.
He said that even in some developed countries, there are still rural communities where that don’t have pipe-borne water
“It doesn’t mean that every village must have pipe-borne water but what is important is that they must have potable water.
“If it’s a well, let it be protected, because groundwater if there isn’t any underground contamination, is usually a good source of water.
“It was only when I became a minister that I started hearing of industrial boreholes. But, now I understand industrial boreholes. We have so many bottling and beverage companies having 8 to 12 diameters of boreholes,” Adamu said.
He accused the companies of taking water as if it is an underground river adding that they are mining the water because they are taking it at the expense of individual Nigerians.
“Probably what we need is not more than 2,000 to 3,000 gallons a day, maybe they take 50, 100 and 200 million gallons a day and that is not acceptable, that is why it has to be regulated.
“People that are taking water for commercial purposes, they are making money out of it, and they are depriving, they are depleting the resource.
“So, there ought to be a penalty and everywhere in the world, this happens,” the minister said.
Adamu said one of the false narratives being put forward on the National Water Resources Bill is that the Federal Government is going to take control and everybody must come to Federal Government to drill a borehole.
“The same way that state government gives planning approval for houses, they should handle the issue of approving boreholes.
“We have the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency in this country, which is responsible for monitoring and managing our surface and groundwater resources.
“But nobody can tell you the number of boreholes that exist in this country. So, we don’t even know how we’re abstracting the water,” he said.
Adamu expressed the hope that at least Nigeria could have a standard regulation on how much water was sold and licenses could be issued to know how much water was being abstracted.
“We are protecting the water, making it available for everybody so that there is equitable distribution, and that at the end of the day, we have enough to leave for our children and grandchildren as well.
“What are we leaving for our children if we don’t monitor and manage this groundwater?” he asked.