Two days to the event, the Commissioner in charge of the Ministry of Water Resources, Hajiya Hadiza Abdullahi presented grim statistics of water situation in Nigeria and the world, at the weekly state executive council meeting.
According to her, an estimated 70million (about 42%) of Nigerians lack access to clean and safe water, with most of those affected living in rural areas. She also corroborated expert opinion that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to improved water sources.
Going by the 2011 estimate of the world’s population of 7 billion people, she said, it translates to more than 1.1 billion people lacking access to improved or potable water, with over 70 percent of these said to be living in the developing counties.
Abdullahi’s estimates are in agreement with those of the Honourable Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe who recently put the current “water supply service coverage in the country at 58 per cent, which is about 87 million people”. This, according to the minister, translates to lack of potable water for about 70 million people. In the rural areas, Ochekpe said, only 42 per cent have access to potable water supply.”
So, it hardly needs debating that the problem of water supply cuts across all the states of the federation, nations and continents of the world, with far reaching negative effects on the environment, agriculture and health care.
But the Niger State Government has shown a lot of commitment to the provision of portable water to the people because of its belief that guaranteeing clean and safe water is a sure way to good health.
The Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu government in Niger State would not give excuses that it inherited a perennial problem of water supply when it took power in 2007. It would also not give the excuse that the dry season often poses a challenge to public water supply in many parts of country.
Upon assumption of office, government began to tackle the problem of dilapidation of infrastructure which the state water corporation had battled with under successive administrations.
Government also made substantial financial commitment to supply water chemicals, reagents and pipes. It installed additional water main pipelines; procured drilling rigs/implements, high-lift pumps, submersible pumps and water tankers. It equally drilled hundreds of boreholes all in the bid to improve water supply to the people thereby enhancing their socio-economic lives.
By 2009, the state water corporation had successfully de-silted Tagwai Dam after 25 years and completed the turn-around of water works across the State, including the installation of transformers and stand-by generators.
The commissioner of Water Resources said the state government is working tirelessly to ensure that potable water reaches all the nooks and crannies of the state, adding that some water-related projects have been executed to improve the situation.
She said the situation of water supply in Minna has improved considerably following the rehabilitation and refurbishing of Chanchaga and Bosso Water works. With the purchase of booster pumps for Maitumbi area, connection of 33Kva line to Pogo booster station, connection of 6” pipeline to Tunga area, improvement in water supply situation at the Minna military cantonment, the perennial problem of water supply hitherto witnessed in most part of the state capital is now history.
The ministry also embarked on other semi-urban water supply schemes in the state, and introduced mini water schemes Kuta, Madaka, Mashegu, Agwara, Lemu and Kata-eregi.
It procured several borehole rigs for drilling of boreholes in communities, and trained some of its staff on water-related issues both locally and abroad.
The state has also bought several water vehicles and distributed same to the 25 Local Government Areas for distribution of water to communities that lack the commodity.
Although the problems are still not over, it is not difficult to see that the situation has improved reasonably in the metropolitan cities, especially in the State capital.
Ndayebo is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State