FG needs N360bn to provide potable water for Nigerians- Minister

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The government says water sector will provide 3.4 million jobs before 2015.

Nigeria needs about N360 billion to provide portable water for her over 160 million residents, the Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, said in Abuja on Thursday.

The minister also said that a total of 23 dam projects at the cost of N156 billion are currently under construction across the country. The dams, which will generate about 3.4 million jobs, she added, would be completed before 2015.

Over half of Nigeria’s population lack access to safe dinking water according to the United Nations.

Mrs. Ochekpe made the disclosure while briefing the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on her ministry’s performance.

The party invited all the ministers to present their scorecards at sessions witnessed by journalists, at its national headquarters. The exercise will continue until next month.

Mrs. Ochekpe assured the PDP leaders that with the measures being put in place as well as the cooperation of all stakeholders, the PDP led federal government would deliver on its promises in the area of water supply. This, she said, will encourage Nigerians to vote for the ruling party during the 2015 general elections.

The minister who revealed that only 55.6 percent of the ministry’s budget for 2012 was released, said the rehabilitated irrigation projects, completed in 2012, at the cost N18.1 billion, would generate 113, 304 jobs. She also stated that other water projects completed in 2012, cost N3.4 billion and would serve a population of about 640,000.

Mrs. Ochekpe added that the ongoing irrigation projects, scheduled for completion at the cost of N112.1 billion, could generate 636, 240 jobs.

Responding to questions from journalists, the minister disclosed that the 40 per cent of the cost of maintaining Lake Chad Basin Commission is contributed by the Federal Government, adding that in 2012 alone, it paid N450 million.

She lamented the incessant drilling of boreholes in the country, stressing that the negative impact could endanger the environment.

The National Chairman of the party, Bamanga Tukur, in his opening remarks, said water resources and preservation is one of the most important programmes of the party.

While taking his turn to brief the PDP leadership, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Sada, announced that the comatose Ajaokuta Steel Company will soon commence operations.

He recounted that though there was nothing cheering about the company at the inception of the current federal administration, through the activities of the mining sector, the company was able to contribute N60 billion to the Federation Account.

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According to him, all the 774 local government areas have mineral resources, stressing that in all, 34 mineral resources can be found in different parts of the country.

The country, he said, has coal estimate reserves of over 2.7 billion tones; bitumen 27 billion barrels of oil equivalent; Iron Ore 10 billion tones; limestone 3 trillion tones; and 1 million ounces of gold.

Mr. Sada, however, regretted that of the 2.16 billion appropriated for the ministry last year, only N1.6 billion was released to it, adding that inadequacy of fund, manpower, mines special purpose surveillance equipment for field work and revenue collection monitoring, are the major challenges confronting the mining sector.

Mr. Tukur had earlier noted that the operations of the ministry conform to the transformation agenda of the PDP-led federal government.

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