COMMENTS: Improving access to potable water in Yobe State: Governor Gaidam tasks Yobe Council Chiefs On Potable Water

The two responses below to the posting on the Yobe governor’s statement on water supply are, to some extent, similar and may interest other visitors to this site.

Mr. Hanidu’s touch on sustainability of the water schemes as well as some of the issues raised in the last posting.

It is very common in Nigeria to pay lip service to maintenance of infrastructure. This can be seen on our roads and public buildings. For example taking a very simple and common example, a visit to most of the toilets in government buildings will convince any visitor to Nigeria that we build new offices and official residences and just cannot be bothered about maintaining them. I can remember while my consulting firm (Deptol Consultants) was conducting a study of abandoned boreholes for the Federal Government between 1982 and 1983 in six states in the Northern part of the country where we discovered that several of the boreholes in the northeastern part were not functioning because of cheap replaceable generator parts, etc. At the time, we recommended putting in place a parastatal for water schemes similar to the old “Public Works Department”, PWD which mended roads before they were damaged beyond simple repairs.

Mr. Hanidu’s interest in what Yobe state’s 2012 budget has for community water schemes should interest most in the Nigerian water sector. Mr. Aluko also raised similar concerns and condemns politicizing water supply. The comments of Messrs. Hanidu and Aluko follow.

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Somehow, it is not easy to determine which words were the governor’s and which ones were the reporter’s. The title says the governor “tasks” the Yobe Council Chiefs on potable water. In other words, he challenges them. He did not make a promise. Where the word “pledging” appeared, it is still not certain whether it is the reporter’s or the governor’s. I would have been happy if we could have the text of his address.
Nevertheless, I agree with the opinions already expressed that preliminary investigations and thorough planning are required for the provisions of rural water supplies in any community. Rather than do this, the governor and his council chiefs have gone ahead to buy generators. At the end of the day, these generators will end up in the houses of some people. If by luck, the generators are not stolen, will there be regular provision of funds for the purchase of diesel?
If the governor has tasked or urged his council chiefs to make potable water available for domestic and industrial uses, I am tempted to ask where these industries are? Besides, let us wait and see when the governor will announce his budget for the state and how much will be allocated for rural water supply and sanitation for us to see if the end of the first quarter is a realistic timeline.
Hanidu

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A Tall Dream Indeed.
Yes, it is very good for duty bearers to aim high in providing basic infrastructures such as safe water sources to their citizens a priority.

Yes, it is encouraging for politicians to make good promises that will reduce poverty in their domains and improve the quality of life, reduce their sufferings and make life better and worthy to live.
But, how do they go about it: through empty promises that would never see the light of the day? Through making costly public statements in the name of attending public State functions and quest to make people happy without corresponding budgetary backing?

Does the State have the baseline situation and inventory of safe water sources, deduce gaps (gaps analysis) and investment (short term, medium term and long term investment plan) needed by the State to make such costly propaganda statements? Secondly has the cost implications of the declaration been determined, evaluated and planned for in 2012 budget? What about the sustainability plan to ensure that the scheme keep on functioning beyond the life of this administration?
It is time we begin to hold duty bearers accountable to such public statement that seek to raise the hope of the people without corresponding machinery to actualize it.

Can this kind of thing ever happen in developed countries? How I wish our polity can develop to such an extent that this kind of thing would be a thing of the past.  This type of thing makes me sick. God.

Aluko

 

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