The Federal Government on Thursday announced that it is targeting to create 625,000 jobs in the country through the establishment of 35,900 hectares of Irrigable land.
Engr. Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, stated this at the 27th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources held in Abuja.
Adamu explained that the project, which is World Bank assisted programme, when completed, would create 625,000 jobs as well as ensure production of 520,000 tons of rice and other cereals annually to the nation’s food basket
According to him, “Under the On-going Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) Project, a World Bank assisted programme, over 35,900 hectares of land, when completed, will be added to the existing irrigation area.
“The Project will also reduce the hazard potential(s) of existing dams while about 625,000 jobs will be created and 520,000 additional tons of rice and other cereals will be produced annually.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic experience of the year, significant progress has been made on these projects.”
Commenting on the activities of the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) under the supervision of the ministry, Adamu said they remain the most strategically placed Federal Government Agencies to facilitate National Food Security and support employment opportunities.
He said the RBDAs are being constantly revitalised and repositioned to deliver on their mandate.
“Consequently, the Songhai Model – an integrated Agricultural Practice introduced to boost agricultural production and achieve integrated rural development commenced in 2015 and has been replicated in five RBDAs.
“Till date, 253 farmlands have been leased to the private sector for commercial farming, out of which 181 are fully utilised,” he said.
He however, revealed that the process for the partial commercialisation of four pilot RBDAs namely Ogun-Osun, Niger-Delta, Upper Niger and Sokoto-Rima was underway.
On the controversial Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly, the minister blamed ignorance on the contents and provisions of the proposed bill by those who oppose it.
His words: “Honourable Commissioners, as you are aware, the National Water Resources Bill has generated a lot of controversy by those who may not have proper understanding of its contents and merits.
“The debate over the Bill comes against the backdrop of a situation where the country’s health is being undermined by unsafe drinking water, its agriculture battling with under production, threatening our national food security, while the sources of water supply have been subjected to much abuse with the attendant threat on the environment.
“The Bill is therefore the manifestation of the government’s desire to ensure that the citizens derive maximum benefits from the country’s Water Resource endowments and potentials.
“Contrary to the narrative of the naysayers, the Bill, which is the product of extensive national consultations, just consolidates four existing laws with the country’s international obligations to ensure the equitable and sustainable development, management, use and consideration of Nigeria’s Water Resources.
“It is therefore a holistic document that contains provision for the Establishment and Management of all the Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Water Resources including the River Basin Development Authorities.”
Also speaking, Muhammad Bello, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, urged state governments and critical stakeholders to take ownership of the Water Resources Bill.
Bello called for intensified awareness creation to enable all segments of the society to support the passage of the Bill before the National Assembly.