Water Minister refutes claims of privatizing dams

Hikmat Bamigboye, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu has refuted claims that it was privatising the nation’s dams, but said what is being done is hydropower concessioning.

Mr Adamu said this at the opening of a Media Water Sector Workshop in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital.

He said: “What was being done is to give partial ownership to beneficiaries to develop the hydro power component for the overall benefit of Nigerians.

“What we do is to provide some leasing arrangement for cage fish farming and all other.”

According to him: “We concession hydropower for aquaculture, we are not concessioning dams. When we concession, we are concessioning the hydro power component of the dam but the dam itself would still be owned by the Federal Government.”

The Minister said concessioning model, was being facilitated by the Infrastructure Concessioning programme of the Regulatory Commission and Bureau of Public Enterprises which he said allows one concessionaire to take custody of the project for a period of time as determined by the financial analysis.

He added that the concessionaire will be responsible for generating hydro power and connecting it to the transmission network made available by the Transmission Company of Nigeria for distribution.

On Gurara Dam, Mr Adamu said that the ministry was negotiating with the preferred and reserved bidder in line with the guidelines of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, to drive the processes that will benefit Nigerians.

He added that the rule in the guidelines of ICRC stipulated that a Transaction Adviser be involved in the processes.

“We have concluded that of Gurara where we have 30 megawatts of hydro power plant, all the processes leading to the concessioning has been done, what is left is for us is to present it to the Federal Executive Council for approval,” he said.

“We still have to wait because the transmission line is not working and it is not within the purview of the ministry, it is taken by Transmission Company of Nigeria.

 “A lot of progress has been made, we hope that by the end of this year, something will happen.”

The Minister stressed that shortlisted firms had been given their Request for Proposal and analysed in choosing the preferred and reserved bidder.

He expressed hope that successive administration would ride on what is been done, saying with the coming in of the private sector in irrigation, through the Graduate and Youth Empowerment Scheme, more hectares would be achieved.

Director of Ministry, Water Supply, Mr Benson Ajisegiri said that efforts in improving access to water and sanitation has led to the inauguration of the Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme, PEWASH.

Mr Ajisegiri, represented by Mr Abdulhamid Gwaram, said so far, 22 states have indicated interest and signed the PEWASH Protocol, noting that implementation has started in Kano and Ogun states.

Deputy Director, Irrigation and Drainage Department, Mrs Oyeronke Oluniyi said the ministry was working to see that irrigated Agriculture was promoted in parts of the country.

According to her, so far, part of the intervention is the Bakolori Irrigation Scheme in Zamafara which has reached 40 per cent completion and has been able to cultivate no fewer than 528,000 tonnes of rice and other cereals.

Mrs Oluniyi called for support from stakeholders to enable the ministry meet its target of irrigation for national development.

The aim of the workshop was to educate the media on better reportage of the government on its activities on water sector.

They also said it was an opportunity to equip the media with the modern styles and dynamics of quality water reporting.

Omolayo.A