By Tosin Kolade
Prof. Joseph Utsev, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, has pledged to work with the National Assembly for actualisation of the law establishing the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC).
Utsev said this when he paid a familiarisation visit to the commission in company of his Minister of State, Alhaji Bello Goronyo in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the commission is mandated with the responsibility of ensuring the management of safe and sustainable water for Nigerians.
He noted that the commission is limited in its ability to enforce regulations on users of raw bulk water for commercial purposes without payment, hence the need for regulations.
Utsev said he would also partner with the National Assembly and other stakeholders in ensuring that the National Water Resources Bill is passed.
Earlier, the minister of state had noted that in spite of low funding, the commission was able to achieve a lot, saying the challenges of non-passage of the National Water Resources Bill would be resolved.
Goronyo noted that the visit was timely and in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the president, saying they sought the support and guidance of the commission in actualising the mandate for shared prosperity.
“President Bola Tinubu has given us the mandate and he came up with a lot of promises, hope and commitment for Nigerians and we have started seeing the results in the food security sector.
“We have a long way to go and we are not panicking, we will deliver with the help of God,” he said.
Responding, Engr. Magashi Bashir, NIWRMC Executive Director, called for improved budget to enable it meet its mandate for effective water resources management and regulations.
According to him, poor budgetary allocations and the non-passage of the establishment bill have hindered its progress.
He noted that increased revenue allocation would allow for optimum regulatory duties, saying that this would also help in sanctioning defaulters of drilling regulations.
He emphasised the need for exercising regulations oversight over water abstraction and water related activities, saying current regulations have led to the revalidation of 50 licences for users of bulk water.
“The commission which I am privileged to head has advanced greatly in its regulatory duties, despite the relentless sabotage be vested interests.
“The commission under my watch in commitment to its core mandate has issued 86 licenses, 76 demand notices, revalidated 50 licenses.
“We have have consolidated the engagement with the office of Attorney General of the Federation and minister of justice by referring cases of violators or the Water Resources Act to his office.
“As a commission, being aware of the revenue deficit in the nation’s revenue need are determined to make sure users of raw bulk water pay the appropriate charges for commercial use,” he said.
The executive director however expressed optimism that the bill would be passed by the 10th National Assembly.
Mr Rotimi Ojegbile, Director, Legal, at the commission, said the visit was timely as it had given the staffers a sense of belonging, pledging that they would ensure that the mandate given to them is actualised. (NAN)
Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede