The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Sunday said the federal government inherited 116 ongoing and abandoned irrigation and water projects from the immediate past government in 2015.
Mr Adamu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration also inherited a liability of N89 billion.
“In the ministry itself, when we came in, we inherited 116 ongoing and abandoned projects and we had a liability of N89 billion that is what we had inherited.
“That was a serious problem, 38 done irrigation projects and over 40 water supply projects. Obviously, in four years there is no way we can finish them.
“Some projects have been started as way back in 1987. Some projects were abandoned in 2000 and we have only been able to revive them,’’ the minister said.
“When this administration came into office and from opinions that we got from stakeholders in the water sector, it is a sector that has been in crisis.
“Recent survey indicated that according to the indices or parameter of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we have attained 69 per cent coverage in terms of water supply,’’ he said.
Mr Adamu described the figure as dismal because over 50 million of Nigerian population under the MDGs were still not covered and the target for MDGs was 75 per cent “we only achieved 69 per cent’’.
“If we applied those indices to the parameter set by new Sustainable Development Goals we are actually nowhere, the statistics is so dismal.
“One of the diagnostic reports we got last year indicated that in 1992, 30 per cent Nigerian population enjoyed pipe borehole water but it declined to seven per cent in 2015.
“This was what led us to series of discussions, retreats and consultations leading to the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari declaring the state of emergency on water and sanitation,’’ he said.
Mr Adamu said that the ministry prioritised projects into four categories to enable it execute some projects to attain 80 or 90 completion.
“We have to do a quick audit and decided on which one we can prioritise.
“We gave them different categories and we categorised them into four – high priority, medium priority, low priority and projects that are not viable and we just decided to drop them.
“Of course, we establish criteria for that those projects that they may attain 80 or 90 per cent completion, we say there should be no hanging we decide to finish them,’’ he said.
According to him, the ministry looks at projects that have a high impact on the communities.
“So far, I am glad to say that probably as much as 20 of these projects in terms of irrigation and water supply have been completed and other top priority projects are still going on,’’ he said.
The minister, who said that he had been inaugurating some projects in the past two weeks, added that other projects would be inaugurated in 2019.
He said that the ministry had developed new irrigation and drainage policy as well as new water resources policy which had been passed by the Federal Executive Council.