The Federal government has approved a new water policy that will improve the management and delivery of water in the country.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the FEC meeting on Wednesday, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, said the Council approved the National Water Policy, National Irrigation Policy and a Draft National Water Resources Bill.
According to him, “National Water Policy seeks to provide strategies that will improve the management and delivery of water in the country in particular reference to water supply.”
The Minister disclosed further that the policy was followed by the enabling law, National Water Resources Bill, which essentially consolidates all the existing laws, the Water Resources Act, the River Basin Development Authority Act, National Water Resources Institute Act, National Hydrological Services Act and other Acts put together to form a national law that conforms to international standard and international best practices.
He said, “By so doing, we have been able to streamline many of the overlapping laws. Sometimes we have conflict in laws; like the one we have with NIWA, about some laws relating to environment and mining.”
Mr Adamu noted that the bill seeks to sort out all those issues so that Nigeria can have a standard national law, adding that the country can set up a proper regulatory agency to regulate the water sector.
“With that, the door is now open for the private sector to come in a big way to invest in water supply schemes in this country. The irrigation and drainage policy seeks to recognise and bring in water users association and generally improve not only irrigation infrastructure but irrigation management in the country,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria had the potential of 3.4 million hectares of land for irrigation and that only about 130,000 had been developed formally, with about 70,000 being utilised.
“So, there is a huge gap and we feel that introducing this policy will help us to work along at federal and at regional levels with the states, so that we will have an all-encompassing policy that will help our agriculture agenda for now.
“So it is a good thing that we brought the three policies together and we believe the water resources sector is going to be an entirely different ball game from now on,” he said.