By Tosin Kolade
Mr John Ochigbo, Director, River Basin Operations and Inspectorate, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, has called for private sector involvement and collaboration to change the fortunes of all the River Basin Development Authorities of the country.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria on the sidelines of the Training for the Partial Commercialisation and introduction of public private partnerships in some Projects of Pilot River Basin Development Authorities in Abuja.
According to him, Nigeria currently has no fewer than 3.4 million hectares of irrigable land still underutilised.
He said with such collaboration and partnerships, dependence on government budget, poor finance would be reduced and would in turn allow full implementation of their major capital projects.
“I am very optimistic because i know the challenges and this has to do with capacity in terms of equipment and funding.
“When the private sector comes in with their funds and take up some of these mega projects to implement on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis, i think that it would open up the river basins.
“We have a lot of Resources, about 3.4 million hectares of irrigable land in the river basin that has not been developed.
“The Federal Government cannot do it alone, i believe that with the private sector coming in through this arrangement, the river basins will open up and Nigerians would feel the impact and Resources would be properly harnessed’’.
Ochigbo noted that with the beginning of partial Commercialisation of four river basins as pilot schemes, it would be an opportunity to see strengths and weaknesses, thereby scaling up to the remaining eight.
He said river basin authorities were established to harness the water resources potential of the country toward the development of irrigation and to boost agriculture production in the country.
The Director said with the coming in of new investors, the moribund nature of the river basins would be erased.
He added that such interventions would be as part of reforms to diversify the economy of the nation from mono economy (oil) to other sector like agriculture.
“The Federal Government took the decision to approve a partial commercialisation of the river basin authorities and the whole essence of to revitalise them and make them self-reliant.
“This is not privatisation but commercialisation in order to allow the river basins harness private sector funds in implementation their major capital projects”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ministry in partnership with Bureau for Public Enterprises have commenced training of relevant stakeholders for the full implementation of the partial commercialisation processes.
The four benefiting River Basins are; Niger-Delta, Sokoto-Rima, Ogun-Osun, and Upper Niger. (NAN)