The Federal Government of Nigeria has called for private sector involvement and managerial skills to efficiently run the water system, as almost 37 of its water resources agencies have become inefficient.
Speaking at the National Validation Workshop on the Draft National Water Source Protection Policy on Tuesday, Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu said that a strong regulation of the water sector would attract private sectors investment.
He said, there was the need to give the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC) the legal backing it required to able to attract private sector investment into the water sector.
On the delayed water bill and its impact on water sector, the Minister said, “Bill or no bill, water resources management and development will continue in this country because more than 95% of the provisions of the water resources bill that is before the National Assembly is already in existing laws in the country and they are been applied.
“The remaining 4% is just to fine turn certain aspect of water resources development particularly the issue of integrated water resources management and as you know the agency that is representing the concept of integrated water resources management is NIWRMC, which has been exiting since 2007 , has been providing water license for those that requires it under the existing regulations.
“We don’t need to make too much noise about this bill. This bill is just to fine tune things, like I said there are some new aspects that are introduced. There are four key issues why this bill is important for us to be passed.
“The issues of an independent regulator for the water sector. By strengthen the NIWRMC, it now has independent powers, unlike now that it working on the basis of derogatory power of the minister, and that means we are democratizing the water sector, because when we have an independent water resources commission, it means there is no governmental influence or ministerial influence on it.
“The power is now devour to the stakeholders. That is why we made provision for catchment management committee which in any case are existing till today under the IWRMC, but the main thing is to make this commission independent, that means its commissioners will be nominated by the president and as subject to confirmation by the National Assembly.
“Secondly we are trying to introduce the concept of trimming, irrigation management in Nigeria. It’s also a way of devolving or empowering irrigation framers to be able to manage secondary and tertiary irrigation infrastructure, to set up water users association and collect their own monies, and they will use the money to maintain secondary and tertiary irrigation infrastructure, while government will be left to manage the dams and the main irrigation systems.
“Thirdly, is the WASH FUND. There is a water sanitation and hygiene fund provision for in the water resources bill that will now be back by law. Therefore, in that fund state government that are finding it difficult to invest in water supply sanitation and hygiene would be able to access the fund maybe by grant window or loan window to be able to use to invest in water supply sanitation and hygiene infrastructure.
“Finally, water resources in this country is a challenge mainly because the agencies responsible for providing water are government owned and controlled and government is not the best institution to manage cost recovery system. So, if the water supply delivery is to be efficient, we need to have recovery mechanism that will ensure that cost is recovered and use to maintain the system that may even expand.”
In his welcome address, the Executive Director NIWRMC Engr. Umar Magashi the National Water Source Protection Policy seeks to promote the availability of sufficient water quantitatively and qualitatively through professional and efficient management of all surface and underground water sources for the use of all (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use, Irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric power, navigation, fisheries, and recreation, as well as ecosystem maintenance).
He said “The journey to the draft policy before us today started with its approval by the National Council on Water Resources 2017, led to the inauguration of a special National Technical Committee (experts) in 2018 which produced this draft policy.
“It is worthy to note that this draft policy has been subjected to experts and relevant stakeholders in the sector for professional inputs prior to this validation workshop.
“The Draft National Water Source Protection Policy is an update of the existing policies, taking into consideration, latest developments in the sector, nationally and internationally. For example, the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Water Governance are now bedrock of the Policy, which when finalized, would need to be enforced and implemented if the water sources are to be well protected for the good of all.”