ASABA/Nigeria: In pursuance of its objectives anchored on ensuring 95% coverage in the provision of potable and affordable water supply in the state by the year 2020, the Okowa led administration is irrevocably committed towards this, through the State Ministry of Water Resources Development which has adopted proactive measures aimed at realizing this onerous but critical task for the overall wellbeing of Deltans.
Considering the importance of the availability of an uninterrupted water supply for the inhabitants of any society, any genuine governments should strive to prioritize the sector by placing high premium on the water industry just as the health sector is supposedly accorded much focus which is invariably one of the critical sectors of the economy. The reason why governments at all levels must invest more on water infrastructure is not far-fetched; ‘water provision is very sacrosanct and thus adulterated and unhealthy water could attract life threatening diseases.’
Apart from the significant benefits associated with water to mankind, in term of its uses to man, and its socio-economic advantage to man as well as the fact that livestock majorly depend on water for survival the amount of water either natural rainfall or irrigation method is a determining factor for the growth of crops and this in turn ushers in food sufficiency.
Not unaware of the imperativeness of water infrastructure in the state, the State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, while constituting his Executive Council in 2015, appointed Sir Fidelis Okenmor Tilije, a seasoned politician, a consummate manager and philanthropist of high repute as the Commissioner for the Ministry of Water Resources Development, a ministry he had continued to oversee with several innovations and modest achievements with a charge by the governor to reposition the water sector that before now was a shadow of itself in adherence with the yearnings of the people of the state so that the inhabitants of the state could have access to safe and affordable water supply.
Sir Fidelis Tilije, upon assumption of duty as the commissioner brought his wealth of experience to bear through multifaceted approaches towards ensuring that the objectives of the Ministry of Water Resources Development is effectively achieved for the overall benefit of the people of the state, all in a bid to re-launch the sector to its desired heights. One of such approaches is to carry out public water baseline of about 706 water schemes with a view to determining their functionality.
Again, another strategy devised by the Fidelis Okenmor Tilije led ministry in revamping the water sector in state is the initiation of the Executive Water and Sanitation Bill to the Delta State House of Assembly. The bill, when passed into law and accented by the Governor, will address lope holes that might inhibit the expected progress in the sector and for the purpose of optimum performance and productivity.
Strongly determined to deliver on his assignment, Sir Fidelis Tilije articulated the need to partner with the international donor agencies that have good intentions to invest on the sector, conscious of the fact that the task of providing water is capital intensive hence government cannot achieve appreciable measure of success all alone. However, the need to attract development partners to assist government in this direction cannot be overemphasized.
In recognition of his modest achievements in the transformation of the sector in that Delta State was rated as the best performing state in the area of steady reforms in the Nigeria Water sector.
This success story apparently earned the State Governor, Senator(Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa an award of the ‘’2018 Waterman of the year’’ which was presented to him on the July 3, 2018 by the Federal Minister of Water Resources, Abuja.
Speaking recently to journalists in Asaba, the State Commissioner for Water Resources Development, Sir Fidelis Okenmor Tilije said that on assumption of office as the commissioner in-charge of the ministry, a baseline study of 706 public water schemes was carried out, adding that 288 water infrastructures representing 39% were functional. Sir Tilije further disclosed that as of date, there were 900 water schemes in the state out of which 630 representing 70% were functional.
The Commissioner, however, reiterated that the Warri-Effurun Water Scheme PPP model had attracted a huge private investment of N13Billion, saying that the initiative was aimed at resuscitating and providing affordable as well as safe water to over 16,000 households in Warri-Effurun axis through prepaid water meters. Sir Tilije said that the scheme was the first water supply PPP model not only in Delta but Nigeria as a whole, assuring that the private investors would be on site before the end of November, 2018.
On his ministry’s partnership with the European Union and UNICEF on water supply, Sir Tilije maintained that Delta State had over the past three years paid its counterpart contribution of N705Million in its partnership with the international donor agencies, adding that the counterpart sum attracted grants of over N3Billion from the European Union in order to improve water supply in the state.
According to Sir Tilije ‘’the impact of the partnership in the water sector is being felt substantially in virtually all rural communities in Ndokwa West and Isoko South Local Government Areas respectively, noting that water scheme valued at over one billion naira had been advertised and being processed for virtually all the rural areas of Ukwuani and Ethiope Local Government Areas.
He commended the European Union and UNICEF for singlehandedly donating a Data Centre with a face value of N150, 000,000Million to the state without any financial contribution by the state, adding that the Data Centre was located at the premises of the Delta State Urban Water Board.
On the Regional Water Supply Schemes, Sir Tilije state that a new strategy service delivery measure was in place for the provision of potable water to Deltans, particularly in the Urban Centres had culminated in the award of the upgrade of Asasba and Ughelli water supply schemes to regional schemes at the cost of N233,781,350 Million and N144,296,212.50 Million respectively. ‘’The strategy will not only improve the volume of public water supply in Asaba and Ughelli but will enable the direct connection of public water to 2000 and 1000 individual households through prepaid meters in the first phase’’, he said.
Sir Tilije also described the Bomadi Water Scheme as one of the important landmark achievements in water scheme rehabilitation that the State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa appreciates, stressing that over 20 years, Bomadi people had not benefitted from any public water supply. The Commissioner noted that the cost of constructing boreholes in Bomadi and Ogwashi-Uku was high and beyond the reach of common man as their environments is iron prone. He disclosed that the sum of N110,576,287.50 Million was expended on the construction of a functional water scheme in Bomadi with over 25% water fetching island.
Having achieved such feat, Sir Tilije led ministry did not relax on the euphoria of this giant stride but continued to fashion out ways of consolidating on the gains recorded so far on Bomadi water projects towards ensuring that the water in the area was safe for drinking considering the peculiarity of the stony environment of Bomadi. To this end, measure was put in place to ensure effective treatment of the water such that the people would not infected with diseases associated with water.
Speaking specifically on this, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Sir Fidelis Tilije said that a functional treatment plant with high and capacity to treat a large volume of water to supply treated and potable water to over five more neighbouring communities in Bomadi area, Kpakiama, Tuomo, Oboro, Okpokunu and Gbaregolor a massive solar and inverter systems was constructed to support the generating sets that were provided.
While commenting on his ministry’s partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programme, Sir Tilije traced the emergence of the scheme to the transparency shown in the partnership between Delta State Government and EU/UNICEF, adding that the reforms that were being implemented in its water sector, Delta State had been prequalified among the 14 states selected for the phase one of the intervention by the USAID.
Sir Tilije, who maintained that Delta State had been selected among the 6 states for the first phase, stated that the sum of U$$60.4Million, while the sum ofN21.7Billion would be shared among the six successful states. The Commissioner, who described the initiative as part of the United States Government’s efforts to address the gaps in the Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in Nigeria said that the goal of the USAID/Nigeria partnership was for the USA to supply the improvement of Urban water service delivery by working with the partners to strengthen the governance, financial and technical viability of the six States Water Boards (SWBs).
Yes, there is no gainsaying the fact that Sir Fidelis Okenmor Tilije’s Ministry of Water Re3sources Development have performed overwhelmingly in repositioning the water sector in Delta State in tandem with the core mandate of the ministry, however, the state government should as a matter of utmost importance, increase the budgetary provision for the ministry to enable it achieve more bearing in mind that water supply is capital intensive.