By: Tosin Kolade
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources is set to commence partial commercialisation of four River Basin Development Authorities in the country.
The move which was in partnership with the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), was part of efforts to reduce the agencies dependence on budgetary allocations, promote self-sufficiency while contributing to national development and economic empowerment.
The four river basins are; Niger-Delta, Sokoto-Rima, Ogun-Osun, and Upper Niger.
Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, speaking at the opening of a training for the partial commercialisation in some projects of the Pilot River Basin Development Authorities in Abuja, said the National Council on Commercialisation had appointed a transaction adviser with some recommendations that changing the narrative of poor service delivery in the sector would be through partial commercialisation and partnership with the private sector.
“The whole idea is not to privatise the river basins; no, first to start with is partial commercialisation and hopefully attain full commercialisation. The idea is that river basins should stop being dependent on government subventions or appropriation from budgets.
“They have the potential to generate a lot of revenue for themselves and use it to conduct their operations, the river basins were created several years ago to support economic development.
“It is saddening that they have not met their overall goal, with limitless efforts made years ago lost to subsequent dependence on government”.
The minister said the ministry, in partnership with the BPE, already commenced the training of focal persons in preparation for the commencement of the project in the four selected river basins.
He said it was expected that by the end of the programme, the river basins would become more relevant to national development, contribute to economic empowerment, poverty reduction and integrated rural development.
He added that the importance of river basins becoming self-sustaining through exploration and exploitation of every possible area along their operation to yield revenue could not be over-emphasised.
The BPE Director-General, Mr Alexander Okoh, reiterated the federal government’s commitment to promoting private sector operation, management and maintenance of the river basins without divesting its shares.
“The federal government is also interested and eager to develop the country’s water resources, with special emphasis on optimising irrigation potentials for farming and agriculture on a commercial basis, and to fulfil the underlying objective of food and water security”.
Okoh added that the consultants had submitted their report and advice required for implementation, in a manner consistent with relevant national policies, laws and international best practice.
Malam Mohammed Uba, Director, Development Institutions and Natural Resources at the BPE, noted that river basins played a huge role in agricultural production, food supply and economic development.
“This training basically is to improve the capacity of the river basin development authorities to be able to deliver on food sufficiency and water supply for the nation”.
“For us at the BPE, it is to drive the process to see that all the recommendations are implemented.”