Spe­cial Fea­ture on Fed­eral Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources

The Na­tional Wa­ter Re­sources Bill, when passed into law, will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship on ur­ban wa­ter schemes, par­tic­u­larly in the area of op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance.

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - Suleiman Adamu

We Are fa­cil­i­tat­ing frame­works for pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment in wa­ter projects

In this interview, the Honourable Min­is­ter of Wa­ter Re­sources, Suleiman Adamu, speaks on the pol­icy and leg­isla­tive frame­work to fa­cil­i­tate ac­cess to wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion, and pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment in wa­ter projects. He was in­ter­viewed by Jide Ak­in­tunde, Man­ag­ing Edi­tor, Fi­nan­cial Nige­ria.

Mr. Adamu is a Fel­low of the Nige­rian So­ci­ety of En­gi­neers, Mem­ber of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Civil En­gi­neers, Coun­cil Mem­ber of COREN (Coun­cil of Regis­tered En­gi­neers of Nige­ria) and also cur­rent Pres­i­dent of ACEN (As­so­ci­a­tion of Con­sult­ing En­gi­neer­ing, Nige­ria). Jide Ak­in­tunde: It has been said that Lake Chad has lit­er­ally gone from be­ing an oa­sis in the desert to be­ing just desert. The Lake Chad, which spans Nige­ria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has con­tracted by up to 95% over the last 50 years. How does the gov­ern­ment view the cri­sis aris­ing from the re­ces­sion of the Lake Chad?

Suleiman Adamu (SA): The re­ces­sion of Lake Chad is a very se­ri­ous prob­lem. We

be­lieve that the se­cu­rity cri­sis that has been go­ing on in the north­east of Nige­ria for years is strongly linked to the de­ple­tion of the lake. And although the lake has shrunk by 90 per­cent over the years, its sur­face area fluc­tu­ates from time to time. Some­times, it cov­ers an area as low as 2,500 square kilo­me­tres, down from 25,000 square kilo­me­tres in the 1960s. How­ever, dur­ing a de­cent rainy sea­son, the area can ex­pand to as much as 8,000 km2. So, the sit­u­a­tion is er­ratic.

But the fact is that the de­ple­tion has caused a lot of en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic chal­lenges in that area. Over the years, the peo­ple have lost con­sid­er­able means of liveli­hood. Young peo­ple around the area are in­creas­ingly find­ing less op­por­tu­ni­ties and they are be­gin­ning to join armed groups.

Most peo­ple are mov­ing west­ward and south­wards. Cat­tle rear­ers are mov­ing south­wards, caus­ing a lot of ten­sion be­tween the herders and the farm­ers along the way. The en­tire ecosys­tem is dev­as­tated and it poses a lot of se­cu­rity chal­lenges to the coun­try.

JA: What are the pol­icy mea­sures of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in in­ter­ven­ing the Lake Chad cri­sis and en­abling pos­i­tive adap­ta­tion for Nige­ri­ans that are be­ing phys­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally stressed by this ma­jor eco­log­i­cal chal­lenge?

SA: First and fore­most, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari took this mat­ter to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Dur­ing the United Na­tions COP 21 in Paris, he brought up the Lake Chad en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges. Be­fore then, I don't think we had any leader from the mem­ber coun­tries of the Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion (LCBC) that had the zeal to stress this is­sue at that high level. Pres­i­dent Buhari has now brought it to the global stage, stat­ing that the shrink­ing of Lake Chad is a ma­jor cause of the se­cu­rity cri­sis in the north-east­ern part of the coun­try and some of our neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

Se­condly, we have been able to rally mem­bers of the LCBC, namely Nige­ria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Cen­tral African Repub­lic (CAR) and Libya to this cause. Pres­i­dent Buhari has tried to en­gage the Com­mis­sion to be much more proac­tive in ad­dress­ing the chal­lenge. Last year, my Min­istry cham­pi­oned the sign­ing of an MOU be­tween the Com­mis­sion and a Chi­nese com­pany to con­duct a fur­ther fea­si­bil­ity study on recharg­ing the lake.

We have seen that per­haps the best so­lu­tion we have at the mo­ment is to di­vert wa­ter from the Congo Basin into the Lake Chad. The lake has al­ways been rain­fed. It also re­lies on the Chari River and Ubangi River, flow­ing from the CAR and Camer­oun, for 95 per­cent of its wa­ter. But due to cli­mate change and other fac­tors, the Lake has been shrink­ing. There is also high evap­o­ra­tion from the lake be­cause of high tem­per­a­tures and de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion, which are also re­lated to cli­mate change.

There has been a plan to take wa­ter from the Congo Basin to re­plen­ish Lake Chad. We have the sup­port of mem­ber coun­tries of the Congo Basin for the project. All that is re­quired to take the Lake Chad to a rea­son­able level is 5 per­cent of the to­tal runoff of the Congo Basin that an­nu­ally flows into the At­lantic Ocean.

We are not talk­ing about tak­ing the sur­face area of the lake back to 25,000 km2. We only want to take it to a sus­tain­able level to main­tain the ecosys­tem and the econ­omy of the area. The MOU with the Chi­nese com­pany is to con­duct fur­ther study on the fea­si­bil­ity study that was done in 1992. In­ci­den­tally, Nige­ria had fi­nanced that study to the tune of $5 mil­lion.

The next stage would be to look at the best op­tion based on the out­come of the fea­si­bil­ity study. The cho­sen op­tion would then be de­vel­oped fur­ther. This in­ter-basin trans­fer is go­ing to take years to plan, es­pe­cially bear­ing in mind that even the pre-fea­si­bil­ity study in­di­cated that we might need about $14 bil­lion to do the Lake

Dur­ing the United Na­tions COP 21 in Paris, Pres­i­dent Buhari brought up the Lake Chad en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges. Be­fore then, I don't think we had any leader from the mem­ber coun­tries of the Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion (LCBC) that had the zeal to stress this is­sue at that high level.

Chad re­plen­ish­ment project. I sus­pect it might be more. But it might also be less, de­pend­ing on the op­tions we have.

In ad­di­tion, as part of the ef­forts to bring the cri­sis to the at­ten­tion of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, we are en­gag­ing with UNESCO. We are plan­ning an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence, which we ini­tially wanted to hold this Au­gust. But it was not fea­si­ble. UNESCO is not ready. There­fore, it is rec­om­mend­ing that we hold the con­fer­ence dur­ing the first quar­ter of 2018. Plans are, how­ever, un­der­way. We have the lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee, and we have sent out let­ters.

The aim of the con­fer­ence is to gather to­gether ex­perts from all over the world to crit­i­cally dis­cuss the op­tions we have. Per­haps some clever per­son might come up with an idea that would not re­quire us to recharge the lake from the Congo Basin.

So, we are try­ing to achieve two things. We will get a tech­ni­cal ap­proach to ad­dress­ing the sit­u­a­tion and also raise more in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion for the prob­lem. There­fore, what­ever in­ter­ven­tion emerges from the tech­ni­cal stud­ies by the Chi­nese com­pany, we would be able to take it to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to get fi­nanc­ing. JA: In 2010, the United Na­tions ex­plic­itly rec­og­nized hu­man right to wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion. What is the pol­icy thrust of the Fed­eral Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources in mov­ing the coun­try to­wards uni­ver­sal wa­ter ac­cess?

SA: Well, I don't know if you fol­lowed our meet­ing of the Na­tional Coun­cil on Wa­ter Re­sources in the week of Au­gust 14th in Akure, Ondo State. The theme of the Coun­cil's meet­ing was, Re­vi­tal­is­ing Ur­ban Wa­ter Sup­ply.

There is a huge prob­lem of ac­cess to wa­ter in the en­tire coun­try. Un­der the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals, we achieved 69 per­cent cov­er­age for uni­ver­sal wa­ter ac­cess in Nige­ria. But over 50 per­cent of the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion does not have ac­cess. In Novem­ber 2015 when I as­sumed of­fice, one of the things we started look­ing at was how to bridge th­ese gaps in both the ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas.

We came up with a new pro­gramme, which we called Part­ner­ship for Ex­panded Wa­ter San­i­ta­tion and Hy­giene (PEWASH). It's a 15-year pro­gramme. In the first two years, we are go­ing to plan and con­sol­i­date. From 2020, we ex­pect to scale it up. We are talk­ing with our de­vel­op­ment part­ners. We are also try­ing to rally the States be­cause wa­ter sup­ply is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the States and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ments. The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment deals with pol­icy is­sues and we are fa­cil­i­ta­tors.

With the PEWASH pro­gramme, we want to find a way to in­cen­tivise the States to in­vest more in wa­ter sup­ply and san­i­ta­tion. We al­ready have about 15 States that have in­di­cated in­ter­est to col­lab­o­rate with us. The idea is that if they pro­vide this much in­vest­ment, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment will give them a match­ing grant.

We have cre­ated youth em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in our river basins. For most of the un­der­utilised land in the river basins, we have in­vited com­mer­cial farm­ers to take them over... Now we have leased over 50,000 hec­tres of RBDA land all over the coun­try to com­mer­cial farm­ers.

The de­vel­op­ment part­ners have also bought into the pro­gramme. We ac­tu­ally col­lab­o­rated with them in shap­ing the pro­gramme.

But what wor­ries me the most is that in Nige­ria to­day, there is not a sin­gle city that can boast of 100 per­cent pipe-borne wa­ter sup­ply. Most res­i­dents have to build bore­holes. The ex­ist­ing mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter schemes are epilep­tic. That is why we brought the is­sue once again to the at­ten­tion of the States at the Na­tional Coun­cil on Wa­ter Re­sources meet­ing. Based on records that our Min­istry col­lected, pipe-borne wa­ter ser­vices de­clined from 30 per­cent to 7 per­cent from 1990 to date. Only 7 per­cent of the Nige­rian pop­u­la­tion has ac­cess to pipeborne wa­ter. This is to­tally un­ac­cept­able.

We are go­ing to hold a re­treat with all the Min­is­ters and State Com­mis­sion­ers at the end of Septem­ber. The World Bank and other de­vel­op­ment part­ners have been in­vited to the re­treat. The only thing we are go­ing to dis­cuss at the re­treat is de­liv­ery of ur­ban wa­ter sup­ply be­cause it is a very im­por­tant is­sue.

You are prob­a­bly aware that we have the Na­tional Wa­ter Re­sources Bill that has reached sec­ond read­ing at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. I am sure when the law­mak­ers re­con­vene from their re­cess, there is go­ing to be more vigour in their ac­tiv­i­ties. We hope the bill would be passed be­fore the end of the year.

If passed into law, the law would pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship on ur­ban wa­ter schemes, par­tic­u­larly in the area of op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance. Clearly, the States can­not man­age th­ese ur­ban wa­ter schemes. There are a lot of in­fra­struc­ture that are lan­guish­ing, with­out be­ing main­tained or up­graded. The best so­lu­tion might be to hand them over to the pri­vate sec­tor, which can do a bet­ter job. The pro­posed law will pro­vide a reg­u­la­tory frame­work for that to hap­pen.

But by and large, State Gov­ern­ments must in­vest heav­ily in wa­ter sup­ply schemes. It is an ex­pen­sive ven­ture but we don't ac­cept a sit­u­a­tion where States and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ments think sink­ing bore­holes is the so­lu­tion. You can­not sus­tain a city like Abuja, La­gos, Kaduna or Kano with bore­holes. More so, there are lots of rivers, dams and raw wa­ter avail­able for State Gov­ern­ments to treat and dis­trib­ute. But States are not in­vest­ing in that.

JA: Our at­ten­tion has been drawn to the ad­vo­cacy for end­ing open defe­ca­tion in Nige­ria in eight years' time. And I said, eight years to end cen­turies-old prac­tice in Nige­ria? Are you very op­ti­mistic that this would be achieved, not so much that it is achiev­able?

SA: It is very much achiev­able so long as the States and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ments co­op­er­ate with us. In late March or early April, we cel­e­brated the Oban­liku Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area in Cross River State as the first LGA to be 100 per­cent open defe­ca­tion-free (ODF). That was un­der RUSHPIN, the co­de­name for the Ru­ral San­i­ta­tion and Hy­giene Pro­mo­tion in Nige­ria pro­gramme. We achieved open defe­ca­tion-free Oban­liku un­der two years.

There are ac­tu­ally thou­sands of com­mu­ni­ties that are ODF, ac­cord­ing to avail­able data from UNICEF. But what we have with Oban­liku is that the en­tire Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area is ODF. We will main­tain the tempo of the pro­gramme across the coun­try. I be­lieve it is about ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vo­cacy.

But at the com­mu­nity level, there is a need to pro­vide pub­lic toi­lets. We now have a pol­icy that any wa­ter scheme we are em­bark­ing on must be ac­com­pa­nied with a pub­lic toi­let scheme. Un­der the PEWASH scheme, we are com­mit­ted to build­ing toi­lets in parks, bus ter­mi­nals, on street cor­ners, etc.

Even the cul­ture of pub­lic uri­na­tion is im­proper. It con­tin­ues to hap­pen be­cause our city plan­ners have not made pro­vi­sion for pub­lic toi­lets. But it has to stop, even if it re­quires en­force­ment. Nasarawa State, for in­stance, has passed a law that you can­not defe­cate openly. Grad­u­ally, we are try­ing to change the mind­set of peo­ple by pro­vid­ing the fa­cil­i­ties to stop open defe­ca­tion and uri­na­tion, and show­ing them the ben­e­fit to their health and well­be­ing.

If that ap­proach is not ef­fec­tive, we would put the nec­es­sary laws in place and en­force it. In the mean­time, we are on the right track and I be­lieve it is doable.

JA: How would you like to high­light some of the work that the Min­istry is spear­head­ing?

SA: As some­body with a project man­age­ment back­ground, I look at every­thing as a project. I con­sider ev­ery as­sign­ment I carry out in this of­fice as a project. A project is a task that has a be­gin­ning and time limit. For ev­ery project, you need to plan; and you need to un­der­stand your prob­lems.

I was ap­pointed in Novem­ber 2015, and four weeks later we had a re­treat with key stake­hold­ers in the wa­ter re­sources sec­tor. We agreed that the Min­istry was not op­er­at­ing in the way it should and it needed to be put back on track.

Se­condly, we needed to re­vi­talise the River Basin De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­i­ties (RBDA). They had pre­vi­ously been politi­cised and van­dalised. We also needed to do some­thing about all the on­go­ing projects. I in­her­ited a debt pro­file of N89 bil­lion with a re­quire­ment of an­other N200-300 bil­lion to com­plete all the on­go­ing projects – about 116 ma­jor projects in dams, ir­ri­ga­tion and wa­ter sup­ply.

But as you are aware, the re­sources are not quite avail­able. There­fore, we needed to find al­ter­na­tive ways of fund­ing our projects and do­ing other things. We then came up with a roadmap that was pre­sented to the Pres­i­dent and we got the ap­proval to pro­ceed.

Even be­fore we got the ap­proval, we had started work­ing on chang­ing the op­er­a­tions of the River Basin De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­i­ties. We have since re­stored agri­cul­ture ex­ten­sion ser­vices in the coun­try. We are get­ting them to com­plete their projects and fo­cus­ing their bud­gets squarely on im­prov­ing ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties to sup­port agri­cul­ture.

We dis­cov­ered that the agri­cul­ture revo­lu­tion that this Gov­ern­ment is un­leash­ing can only be re­alised fully if the coun­try prac­tices all-year farm­ing. And the Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources is re­spon­si­ble for ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties, so we have a crit­i­cal role to play in this en­deav­our.

We have cre­ated youth em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in our river basins. For most

You can­not sus­tain a city like Abuja, La­gos, Kaduna or Kano with bore­holes.

of the un­der­utilised land in the river basins, we have in­vited com­mer­cial farm­ers to take them over. The RBDAs didn't even know they had all this land. Now we have leased over 50,000 hec­tres of RBDA land all over the coun­try to com­mer­cial farm­ers. This has never been done be­fore.

We did a tech­ni­cal au­dit of all the on­go­ing and aban­doned projects we in­her­ited and pri­ori­tised them. Our aim is to fin­ish as many of th­ese projects as soon as pos­si­ble. We have im­pounded the Kashim­bila Dam. We com­mis­sioned the Cen­tral Og­bia Wa­ter Sup­ply Scheme last year. We are work­ing to­wards com­mis­sion­ing an­other one, North­ern Ishan Wa­ter Sup­ply Project in Edo State, very soon. By the end of this year, out of the 116 projects from the last Ad­min­is­tra­tions, we would have less than 100 still out­stand­ing and con­tinue through 2018.

We have in­tro­duced the PEWASH pro­gramme. We re­vived the Na­tional Wa­ter Re­sources Bill, which had been aban­doned for 10 years, and got it ap­proved by the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC) and is now at the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

We got our Na­tional Wa­ter Re­sources Pol­icy as well as the Na­tional Ir­ri­ga­tion and Drainage Pol­icy ap­proved by FEC. The two poli­cies are cur­rently be­ing im­ple­mented.

We have also got the pro­posed Lake Chad in­ter-basin trans­fer project back in dis­cus­sion, and signed many MOUs with var­i­ous coun­tries and or­gan­i­sa­tions on mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion. We are work­ing with the Fed­eral Min­istry of Power on the Mam­billa hy­dropower project and on what we call mini-hy­dro schemes, among other things.

The Na­tional Coun­cil on Wa­ter Re­sources meet­ing, which had been stopped for about two years, was also re­vived by the cur­rent Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

We have built stronger con­fi­dence be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment part­ners, in­clud­ing the World Bank, African De­vel­op­ment Bank, United King­dom DFID, UNICEF, and the Euro­pean Union. We have a strong work­ing re­la­tion­ship with them now.

Most im­por­tantly, I met a pro­fes­sional staff in the Min­istry that were to­tally de­mor­alised. They were not op­er­at­ing as the pro­fes­sion­als that they were sup­posed to be. How­ever, their con­fi­dence has now been re­stored. The pro­fes­sional staff in the Min­istry now know they have some­body they can speak in the same lan­guage with. The tech­ni­cal staff in par­tic­u­lar are do­ing a lot and they are proud of their job. Peo­ple are happy to do what they are sup­posed to do. Things are chang­ing in terms of the im­age of the Min­istry.

JA: I don't want to spec­u­late as to what would hap­pen after May 2019. But I would like to ask what are those key things that you would like to see achieved be­tween now and May 2019?

SA: We have a roadmap that we painstak­ingly de­vel­oped. I think the most im­por­tant thing for me is to see that we are very re­al­is­tic with our dates. We know what we want to achieve from now to 2019. If I am able to achieve those mile­stones, I will be very happy.

I have what I call legacy pro­grammes. I am hop­ing those would con­tinue. I would like to see our ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties ex­panded. I would like to see the PEWASH pro­gramme up and run­ning; I would also like to see some im­pe­tus on the Lake Chad in­ter-basin trans­fer project. There is also an in­ter­nal one we are work­ing on, the Hawal Trans­fer Project, from Gon­gola River to South Chad. I would like to see that also on stream.

Even though we are not di­rectly in charge, I would like to see the Mam­billa project fully take off. The orig­i­nal con­cept was from this Min­istry and we are part of the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee to de­liver the project.

There are a host of other hy­dro-power projects that have been iden­ti­fied that in­vestors would like to fi­nance. I would like to see as many of the 116 projects we in­her­ited to be fin­ished. If I get those done, I would be quite ful­filled.

Gov­ern­ment is a con­tin­uum and some­body else would come and con­tinue. The good thing is we have a pro­gramme for the next 15 years. I keep say­ing that any clever Min­ster that comes to this Min­istry al­ready has a roadmap to build on from where we would have left off.

There are a host of other hy­dro-power projects that have been iden­ti­fied that in­vestors would like to fi­nance. I would like to see as many of the 116 projects we in­her­ited to be fin­ished.

Min­is­ter of Wa­ter Re­sources, Suleiman Adamu

Suleiman Adamu

Suleiman Adamu

Suleiman Adamu

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.