Nigeria to partially commercialise River Basin Development Authorities

Na’ankwat Dariem, Abuja

The Nigerian government is to partially commercialise its River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) to enhance productivity in the Water sector.

This was stated by the Minister of Water Recourses, Engr. Suleiman Adamu in Abuja while inaugurating the National Council on Privatization Steering Committee on RBDA.

He stated that the 12 RBDAs established in the 1970s were to address the problem of drought and likely famine the country might face at that time.

Engr Adamu however decried the poor performance of the river basins in terms of service delivery and financial management. He therefore said it has become imperative for the overhaul of the institution to boost economic activities.

“There is the need to reform the RBDS and the water Sector as a whole, to drive the agricultural sector towards the provision of food security, creation of diversification of the economy and development of rural economy” he emphasised

The Minister also said that the process will avail the Institutions financial independent and generate revenue for its development

“In partial commercialization as against privatization there is no divestment of Federal Government’s ownership interest. However, the enterprises so designed expected to operate as aquasi-private   sector entity, to enable generate enough revenues to cover at least, its operating expenses and overheads,”he explained

The commercialization of the River Basin Authorities is in line with the Public Enterprises (Privatization and Commercialization)Act of 1999 which listed the RBDs among the Enterprises(PE)partial-commercialization.

On his part the Acting Director General of Bureau for Public Enterprises in Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Akpotaire noted that the commercialization of the river basins will bridge the gap between the rural and urban centres by taking development to the grass roots, discourage youth rural-urban migration and create job opportunities.

It is hoped that this programme will ultimately enable our rural areas to develop into hubs of economic activities that would provide the platform for Nigeria to diversifying the economy. One of the approaches is for the various locations where the river basins own assets should immediately provide the platform of escalating government programme in defining agricultural activities in the county, Dr Akpotaire explained.

One of the terms of Reference for Committee is to finalise the National Water Resources Bill which was recently presented to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and ensure its passage by the National Assembly in the country  which will scale up the operational capacities of the RBDAs in the country.