How Governor AbdulRazaq Solved Water Problems in Kwara State
By Kaosara Olayemi Oladimeji
Since Kwara state was created some 55 years ago, specifically 27th May 1976, virtually all the governments, both military and civilians attended to water sector, with a view to ensuring that the residents enjoy public water. But as fate would have it, every successive administration has failed to improve on the efforts of their predecessors, if there was any.
So, consequently there was always a very critical problem to solve in the water sector by every successive administration since water refused to effectively run in the public taps.
Investigations however revealed that this has been so over the decades, because water sector just like few other critical sectors in government has remained one of the major conduit pipes through which government officials and politicians easily fleeced away public money.
On his assumption of office, expectedly the water sector was in a mess, when Governor AbulRahman AbdulRazaq visited the ministry of water resources.
Consequently, he gave a marching order for constant water supply to some areas in Ilorin and all other parts of the state within 100 days.
Governor AbdulRazaq also asked the ministry and the concerned consultants to deliver water to every part of the state by getting all the dams working, pledging to give them the necessary support.
The governor, who also visited Agba Dam and Asa Dam Water Works as well as Western Reservoir (Adewole) in Ilorin, expressed worry over the fruitless search for water by residents of the state despite the huge investment.
The governor said he might wield the big stick in form of ‘house cleaning’ if the ministry did not deliver on his directive.
“We have a mandate to deliver water to our people and within the next 100 days. For a start, I want to see constant water supply in specific areas of Ilorin, it may be Ilorin East, South or West or anything (where these particular dams cover),” he said after listening to the ministry’s officials.
“Don’t keep talking. We want action. Our people want water. No part of Ilorin or anywhere in this state do people have water. Raise a memo to state what the problems are and what’s needed to fix them. People are tired of empty talk”.
“We have to solve the problems now. Forget the big word reticulation, let’s fix the problem. We need immediate memo on what the problems are and we will give you all the support”
“We need to think out of the box. I’m serious about having water in our homes within 100 days. We have the mandate to deliver water to our people,” the governor said.
And within a few days after the governor’s marching order, some residents of Ilorin who had hitherto complained of access to public water heaved a sigh of relief.
Going to four years of the current administration, those ugly past are gradually becoming a thing of the past once and for all according to the update from Commissioner for Water Resources,Hon Abdulwahab Femi Agbaje in an interview with journalists in Ilorin.
He also recalled with nostalgia the state of water supply when the present administration took over,he said,”When we came on board, we met a situation that was not palatable, we met a comatose situation of water works in the state. The first thing we noticed was that apart from the electrical operation of our water works, the staff at the water Corporation were on strike. And this is the body that is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is water in the whole of the state.
“So we met this body on strike, they had a lot of complains against the previous government and they downtolled for almost 3 months before we came on board and the moment we came on board, the government ably led by Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazak intervened.
“He had meeting with the management team of the water Corporation and looked into some of the things they raised and he positively yielded to some of their demands and they went back to work.
“After then, we discovered that virtually all the water works were having problems’ and since then the government took it upon itself to see that most of these water works get back to functioning”.the Commissioner said.
He also disclosed that the government has rehabilitated 14 water works in Igbaja, Agbamu, Oro agọ, Rore, Offa, Oyun and others, stressing that, that of Oke onigbin is in progress.
“Not only that, we initiated and built 2 water works. We have one at Dumaji, we have one at Jebba. That of dumaji is functioning now, it is complete and the people of the community are enjoying it now. That of Jebba is about 80 percent completion, infact hopefully, it is going to be delivered to us this month as promised by the contractor handling the Jebba water works”.
“And not only that, we extended public water coverage to many places which do no not enjoy water before the coming on board of this administration,” he added.
Commissioner for Water Resources, Hon Agbaje on the efforts of the current administration to rectify the water crisis, also said, “As I speak to you, we just got an approval from His Excellency to carry out rehabilitation on about 9 water works. We are also starting another set of 65 boreholes across the state to take care of our communities that our Water Dams could not serve.”
The Commissioner further spoke about the interventions from PEWASH to complement the efforts of the government.
“it is Partnership on Expanded Water Sanitation and Hygiene. This is an arrangement between state government and federal government. The state government will bring a counterpart fund, the actual amount that is being provided, the federal government will add the same. We have done that last year where we picked 4 local governments to do the pilot scheme of it and we selected Asa Moro, Offa and Edu local governments.
“And under this arrangement, the state dug 24 boreboreholes in each of the local governments. This year we have commenced a project of getting another six local governments too to enjoy this benefit. So these are what we are doing in term of PEWASH arrangement.
“There’s water in Ilorin now and there’s water in so many other local governments. The feedback is very good, that is, the people that are feeling this services, they are getting back to us to commend the government,” he added.
In terms of the challenges, the Commissioner said, “In some areas, we have power problems and in these areas, no matter how the situation of the water work is, if there’s no power, there’s virtually nothing you can do. And it may not be easy for the government to be providing diesel”.
“If government want to provide Diesel for every community, you can know what that will amount to. Definitely in those areas, particularly the northern parts of kwara where we have serious challenge in term of power supply. These services have not been that felt because of this problem. And apart from that, during raining season, we have a lot of challenges, there was a flood and some of our equipments were swept away, the electricity poles were carried completely and some of the pipeline were swept away. And it became a problem for us to access the place because of the level of water at that particular time. So when you look at that period, the citizens will make noise that they are not enjoying water even though they will not know what has actually happened, they will just think maybe the water works is not actually functioning and maybe the ministry are not doing anything but No. It is because of those challenges. ”
He added, “We have similar experience in Igbaja too. The Igbaja water works is working well, there is no problem but when the place was overflooded, it affected our equipments. These are some of the challenges. And apart from that, when you look at Asa Dam, it is the major dam that we have in kwara state. And it supplies a very large percentage of the people in this state. When you now look at the activities of the fish farmers in that axis. When you have over 10,000 people fishing around the dam and they are releasing their chemical wastes directly into our water. This has a serious negative effect on most of our equipments. When we look at our machines, nozzles, and it hampers our services. So these are some of the challenges we have. ”
“But apart from that, the feedback we are getting from people are fantastic even though there are still complaints which is quite normal,” the Commissioner said.
He also said that the present administration has extended new pipes to some areas that had never enjoyed public water.
“I think I can remember Egbejila, Batasunkere, Royal, Mandate 3, and few other places in Ilorin now have new pipes extended to their areas and they are enjoying water now,” he said.
“Now, If you look around,you will see that you cannot compare what we have now with the past experience so i think the governor has justified his being in government in terms of water provision to the people of the state.”
Confirming the developments, a resident of Adewole area, Ilorin, Alh Azeez Adebayo said, for the first time in several years, he now has water regularly running from his taps on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
According to the Octogenarian, “We have no worries about water supply in my house and others around here for sometime now,particularly since the current administration came on board.
Before now, what we normally experience ,was water just dropping once in several months to the extent that we had to abandon relying on public water. We contribute money for tankers to supply us water.
“But that has been a thing of the past for sometime now.The water supply has been regular three times in a week,and we give kudos to the governor for his efforts that have given us this comfort.”He said.
Outside of the state capital, residents of Olofa Way and Erinle way in Offa and Oyun local governments area of Kwara state and residents in Oro-Ago, Igbaja Oro,Ijomu Oro and other neighbouring towns in Kwara South also expressed satisfaction at the improvements of supply of public water by the present administration.
Residents of Kwara North which keen observers of Kwara politics have seen as the major beneficiaries of the current administration have also been basking in the euphoria of effective supply of water in public taps brought about by the efforts of Governor AbdulRazaq.