REVEALED: Why River Basins have been inactive for years

REVEALED: Why River Basins have been inactive for years

ByDupe Oloyede, Abuja

It is no more news that the River Basins Authorities who are supposed to be the key drivers in the water sector have been comatose for a very long time. AljazirahNigeria investigations revealed that this may not be far-fetched from the over politicisation of the basin activities

It was gathered that for a very long time, the RBDAS was been managed by non-professionals who were appointed by leaders of the political party in power.

Interestingly,  a careful study of the river basins previous budget showed that the authorities were made to execute projects that are irrelevant to their mandate.

The Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu in an exclusive interview with AljazirahNigeria said for many years, the umbilical cord between the Ministry and river basins was detached, making it impossible for the ministry to supervise its activities.

He said: “Well, what you are saying is right, The River basins have been in comatose, the river basins have been bastardised but we have changed the management. Now we are putting professionals who know about irrigation, water resource management and development to man the river basins.

“We have an agenda, many years ago the umbilical cord between the Ministry and river basins was detached so the ministry was not really overseeing what they were doing as such, now we have changed that, we are putting a lot of focus in what they are doing, we are scrutinising their budgets very well and for the first time in many years, we have insisted that the river basins give us a four-year strategic plan, each one of them.

The Minister stated that efforts have been put in place to ensure that only projects that are of relevance to agriculture were included in the budget of the river basins. “Last year, I personally sat down with each of the river basins, I went through their budget line by line to ensure that only projects that have relevance to agriculture were included in their budget

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“If you checked the budget of last year, river basins were made to renovate class rooms, health centres, buy sewing machines, tricycles, and provide street lightings. Besides we have already identified that the river basins will form the backbone to the agriculture , agenda of this administration to diversify the economy. So it is a must that we must get them to work the way we want them to work,” he said.

As part of efforts to revitalise the river basins, he said the authorities have in their 2017 budget been encouraged to procure hydrological equipment for data management, collection, adding that this is part of their mandate that was neglected.

“We are now getting them to take responsibility for catchment issues, in the budget this year we have encouraged them to buy a lot of hydrological equipment for data management, collection which is part of their mandate that they were not doing before. We have allowed them to invest more in equipment, you know under the technical committee on privatization and commercialization, all the non-water assets were sold so all their heavy plants and equipment that they use to maintain their irrigation were all sold up.

Above that, we have restored the agenda, there has long been a decision that the river basins must be commercialized, we will start with partial commercialisation and then we go to full commercialisation.

“The river basin it has been agreed will never be privatised but we feel they can be viable if they are commercialised and we are working towards that So there is a lot of work in progress, I can tell you that the new management is up and doing, they are enthusiastic, we have also restored agriculture extension services to the river basins and we have specifically, an Executive Director, Agricultural services in the river basins and their task is to reactivate the agricultural components, “he added.

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