No plans to privatize river basin authorities – Minister

The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, says the Federal Government had no plans to privatise the river basin authorities.

Revealing this fact in Abuja, the minister affirmed that the government would only reposition the river basins for efficient service delivery.

He said that that the objective of the strategy was to meet the goals of the agricultural policy of the current administration with regard to the country’s food security.

He said that the ministry was taking activities of the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) seriously by scrutinising their budgets, with a deliberate focus on supporting dry season farming and irrigation.

We have identified that river basins will form the backbone of the agriculture agenda of this administration to diversify the economy; so it is a must that we get them to work the way we want them to work. You know that under the technical committee on privatisation and commercialisation, all non-water assets were sold. It was agreed that the river basins will never be privatised but we feel that they can be viable if they are commercialised and we are working toward that. We have also restored agriculture extension services in the river basins and we specifically have an Executive Director, Agricultural Services, with a task to reactivate the agricultural components,” he said.

The minister said that previous budgets saw river basins renovating health centres, classrooms or buying tricycles, saying that the situation had changed now with investment in hydrological equipment for data collection and management.

Adamu said the ministry was discussing modalities with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for the partial commercialisation of the river basin authorities so as to enable them to meet their overall objectives.

He said that it was saddening to note that the river basins had not really met its overall targets due to diverse challenges.

He expressed the hope that with the Blueprint and Action Plan on Revitalising the RBDAs being implemented and the new management in place, the efficient delivery of set goals and objectives would be achieved.

Adamu urged the citizens to be optimistic that the river basins would support communities and interested entrepreneurs in agriculture, in the country’s efforts to achieve food security goal and create wealth.

The Minister of Water Resources had directed the new management of the RBDAs, when they were inaugurated, to be accountable in their actions and practices.

The minister also warned that corruption would not be allowed in the operations of the RBDAs.

Adamu then said that the revitalisation of the RBDAs was a sure way to reverse years of corruption, bad governance and weak institutional capacity in the agencies.

In the last one year, we had taken concrete steps to resuscitate the RBDAs, the first of which was to develop an action plan and blue print. The blueprint that includes ‘quick win’ interventions with the objectives of restoring mandate, building institutional capacity, maximising operations and output of the RBDAs,’’ he said.

 

Mazino Dickson