The Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Sulaiman Adamu has pledged the total willingness of the Ministry to work with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to ensure the successful commercialisation of the country’s River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) in line with the RBDAs Act of 1987 and Commercialisation framework approved by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
Receiving the Acting Director General of BPE, Dr. Vincent Onome Akpotaire who led other management staff of the Bureau on a courtesy call on him on Monday, March 7, 2016 to update the Minister on the Reform process & strategy for the RBDAs, Adamu warned that unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks would not be tolerated in the process.
The Minister said the ministry welcomed the BPE’s strategy to reform the RBDAs and urged the Bureau to keep pace with the ministry’s drive to speedily bring about change in the sector.
According to him, if the country’s RBDAs were working in line with the objectives for setting them up, government would have had no need to set up intervention agencies like Sure-P and the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) among others.
He said the ministry in consultation with key stakeholders such as BPE would immediately set up a working group for the actualisation of the commercialisation programme which he said had become imperative.
Earlier, the Acting Director General of the BPE, Dr. Vincent Onome Akpotaire had informed the Minister that restructuring the RBDAs was a necessary condition for the realisation of the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda and ensuring food security for the nation. He gave the opportunities in the RBDAs as follows:
- Irrigation potential of over 3.14million ha out which only about 100,000 is developed
- Potential for large/small scale hydro-electric power generating station that are largely untapped
- Abundant surface as well as ground water resources estimated to be over 250bn cubic meters yet to be exploited
- Fishery development
- Food storage & processing; and
- Tourism & Water Sports.
Similarly, he informed the Minister that restructuring and commercialising the RBDAs would boost the economy in several ways, including revenue generation, creation of direct and indirect jobs, alleviation of poverty, generation of electricity and promoting diversification of the rural economy among others.
Specific economic benefits of reform and commercialisation of the RBDAs include:
- Improved efficiency, effectiveness and cost consciousness.
- Significantly reduced dependence on Federal Government for funding.
- Realistic capital structures and improved ability to access the money markets.
- Financial solvency through effective cost recovery, cost control and prudent financial management.
- Viability and self-sustainability of the RBDAs.
- Goal oriented management and staff, whose future is linked to the fortunes of the organisations.
- New strategy will ensure value adding services, e.g., through provision of agro-allied facilities.
- Employment generation for very large numbers of youths in rural areas.
Akpotaire further informed the Minister that effective reform of the RBDAs should involve all stakeholders as represented in the Steering Committee constituted by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and chaired by the Minister of Water Resources.
The Acting DG reaffirmed the Bureau’s commitment to speedily drive the process in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and other relevant reform agencies, with the Minister as the political champion. To achieve this, a Project Advisory Team (PAT) earlier approved by the NCP would be reviewed to ensure that the membership and input of key ministries, Infrastructure Concessions and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), RBDAs and other stakeholders are captured.