The Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, recently blamed state governments for the severe water shortage in all parts of the country. He spoke at a press event marking this year’s World Water Day where he declared that it was the duty of the states and the local governments to provide potable water to citizens. The role of the Federal Government, he said, is to give a helping hand now and then, and to provide good policy.
It is indisputable that states and local governments are responsible for water supply, even though the Federal Government has responsibility for the overall welfare of all Nigerians. It will not, therefore, be out of place to say that the three tiers of government have been derelict, to say the least, in their attitude to water supply in the country.
Last year, the minister told the nation that his ministry would spend N505.6 billion on 116 water projects in the country, 38 irrigation projects, 37 dams and 41 water supply projects. He should give a progress report on those projects. He had informed the nation last year that some of the projects had been stalled for 15 years.
Nigerians are aware of hundreds of Federal water projects abandoned all over the country, some of them after spending stupendous amounts of money. In 2011, for example, the then president, Goodluck Jonathan, launched the Water Roadmap which aimed “to make water available to all by 2015.” The country was also promised the drilling of 109 “motorised boreholes” for each of the senatorial districts; the rehabilitation of 1,000 hand pump boreholes in 18 states, the installation of special treatment plants and the completion of all abandoned water projects in the country. None of those promises was fulfilled.
It does not speak well of the country that 66 million of its 180 million citizens have no access to potable water, and that, in per capita terms, Nigeria has the worst water situation in the world. According to data from the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), India has 97 million citizens who have no access to potable water, but then, it has a population of 1.2 billion.