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Water Resources Bill is pro-development, not politics, says Minister



Water Resources Bill is pro-development, not politics, says Minister

…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.



Health and Safety

Maternal Mortality: 82,000 Nigerian Women Die yearly from Pregnancy-related Complications – UNICEF



Maternal Mortality: 82,000 Nigerian Women Die yearly from Pregnancy-related Complications – UNICEF

…. As MMR declines by 34%, or deaths from 342 to 223 deaths per 100,000 live births***

 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has said that about 82,000 Nigerian women die yearly from complications from pregnancy or childbirth in the country.

It broke it down to 225 women dying every day from maternal mortality, which requires urgent action from the Federal Government and all stakeholders to halt the menace in the country.

The UNICEF Chief of Health in Nigeria, Dr. Eduardo Celades, disclosed these in Lagos on Wednesday, at a three-day Media Dialogue on COVID-19 and Routine Immunization, organised by UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Culture.

Maternal mortality refers to deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth.

 From 2000 to 2020, the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined by 34 percent – from 342 deaths to 223 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UN inter-agency estimates.

On the other hand, the global humanitarian intervention agency revealed that the country was now witnessing eight million childbirths yearly, expressing worry that the situation was not commensurate with healthcare indices in the country.

NAN recalled that the new death rate arising from pregnancy-related complications doubled the figure released by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), just in March 2022, when it said that at least 40,000 women in the country lose their lives to pregnancy-related issues annually.

It also said that over one million children, under the age of five, also die as a result of losing their mothers to pregnancy delivery complications.

But speaking at the media dialogue, Celades said that Nigeria has a very high rate of maternal mortality at the moment, stating that the global maternal mortality report from 2000 to 2020, was recently launched as the source.

According to him, the new figures which he said were received, will help UNICEF in its response to health challenges in the country.

He said: “In the last few months and weeks, we got new data. The report is telling us that the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes is very high. About 82,000 are estimated to die every year from maternal mortality.

“What we are doing is to strengthen primary health care in the country.

“We hope that the data would help us in our response and the response with the government in Nigeria.

“The other one is the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), an analysis where there is the main issue and how we can face them.

“The other new data is the global maternal mortality trends, 2000 to 2020. This is a new report that was launched a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to share that with you because we think this could influence how we work and define how we work with the government so that we can all align and we can have a common narrative.

“We think that this is the new way of working. We are learning and we are trying to innovate. Nigeria is one of the most complex countries in the world in terms of public health issues facing it.

“It is the second country in the world with more zero-dose children–the ones that have not had any single vaccine. It is the country in the world with high maternal mortality.

“Last year was the biggest outbreak in the world and Nigeria has an extremely weak health system. So, we are trying to think from different angles because we at UNICEF and the UN cannot move alone. To do that, we need the government to work with journalists and social media influencers to make the change that is needed.”

He said that UNICEF is planning to launch antigenes virus vaccines in the country soon, noting that the vaccine would immunise children against some childhood diseases.

He said that the country is moving towards the attainment of SDG three, but, its current pace is insufficient to meet the targets.

“Maternal mortality is not going down. Maternal mortality is the same. We have seen that it has reduced by about 12 percent in the last 20 years but it is not enough if we want to achieve the target.

“So, from UNICEF, our main approach is to try to accelerate interventions to make an impact. Now, we have seven more years to 2030 and we are halfway. If we continue like this, some donors will leave in the next few years, so we have a window of opportunities,” he explained.

He called for an increase in effective investments in primary healthcare, at the state level as well as the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

“The second one is that now, we have a very powerful tool to get Universal Health Coverage, (UHC). To reduce maternal mortality, we must focus on National Health Insurance. So I appeal for expansion of the National Health Insurance as much as we can.

“We must invest in the most vulnerable. We appeal to the state governments to allocate resources and with partners, we will allocate enough resources to that.

“Our third appeal is to target the most vulnerable, those women who don’t have access in the most hard-to-reach areas and in the more inaccessible places. We need to invest in getting into these areas,” he said.

He disclosed that UNICEF was working in collaboration with the Nigerian Governors Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch what he described as Leadership Challenge.

“The challenge is called the Primary Healthcare Leadership Challenge and the idea is to recognize and reward state governments that are investing more in primary health care.

The launch, he said, would attract different categories of awards with US$200 million as the highest to states that would win from the six geopolitical zones of the country.

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Health and Safety

FG, IOM evacuate 128 more irregular Nigerian migrants from Libya



FG, IOM evacuate 128 more irregular Nigerian migrants from Libya

The Federal Government and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday evacuated 128 more Nigerian migrants living illegally in Libya to Nigeria under its voluntary evacuation exercise.

The stranded Nigerians, who were evacuated from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, are expected to arrive at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on Wednesday evening.

Amb. Kabiru Musa, the Charge D’affiares en titre of the Nigerian Mission in Libya disclosed this in a statement made available to the press on Wednesday in Abuja.

The 128 evacuees were the second batch of stranded Nigerians repatriated by the Federal Government and IOM within 24 hours, following the resumption of the Nigerian government, IOM voluntary repatriation exercise.

“IOM Libya airlifted 128 stranded Nigerians from the capital, Tripoli to Lagos today, 29th march 2023 aboard chartered flight no. UZ189.

“They are expected to arrive at Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos at 17.40 hours the same day.

“Just yesterday (Tuesday), we airlifted 151 stranded Nigerians, who safely arrived the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and have been reunited with their families,” he said.

According to him, the Federal Government remains committed to evacuating whoever is ready to leave that country under the IOM voluntary repatriation exercise.

“The Mission is also always open to facilitating the return of stranded Nigerians living here who are willing to return home.

“Last year, the Federal Government evacuated almost 4,000 stranded Nigerians here and we hope to evacuate more this year,” Musa said.

Musa said that the next evacuation would be from Misrata, Libya on April 18.

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Health and Safety

650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued



650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued

 About 650 migrants reached the Italian coast in a fishing boat, the latest in increasing attempts to reach the country.

The boat which was about 30 metres long and overloaded, arrived in the southern town of Roccella Ionica, the Italian news agency ANSA reported on Monday.

The report said the boat departed from Libya and its passengers had been travelling for five days.

The passengers were all men who came from Syria, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, ANSA said.

They reached the Calabrian town unaided, without the involvement of the coast guard or civilian sea rescuers.

Thousands of people arrived in Italy over the weekend. Dozens of others died in the attempt or went missing because their boats capsized.

Meanwhile, the aid organisation Doctors Without Borders brought 190 Mediterranean migrants ashore to the southern Italian city of Bari.

The group’s Geo Barents vessel reached the port on the Adriatic coast previously assigned by Italian authorities late on Sunday afternoon, it said.

The ship picked up people on Friday from an unseaworthy wooden boat, including several unaccompanied minors.

However, many people repeatedly try to reach Lampedusa, Malta, Sicily or the Italian mainland by boats from Tunisia and Libya, crossing the central Mediterranean Sea in a potentially deadly journey.

According to official figures, Italy has already registered more than 21,000 boat migrants since the beginning of January, or more than three times the number of migrants seen in each of the two previous years, when about 6,000 per year arrived.

– dpa

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