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Kwara Govt Calls for Urgent dredging of River Niger, Benue

The Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has called on the Federal government to hasten actions on dredging the Rivers Niger and Benue to address the annual flooding across the country..

He raised concerns over the human and material damages, adding that the annual flooding inflicts on the country, especially communities living along their tributaries.

This was contained in a press release signed by Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, over the weekend, following as the governor received delegates from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation led by the Minister Prof Joseph Terlumun Utsev on a courtesy visit to the Government House in Ilorin.

“One of the main challenges I want your Ministry to take up is the dredging of the River Niger, Benue down to the Delta. It is essential for (the Ministry) to start that immediately, because of the damages it is causing to the national economy and food security,” he said.

“Issues of internally displaced persons are of concern. People are leaving their traditional abodes because of the water level. We know that on both banks of River Niger and Benue, rice is being farmed a lot. Two years ago, we saw how OLAM Farm in Benue State was devastated. The issue of dredging is not just about the navigation. It is also about agriculture and building the marine economy from those rivers.”

AbdulRazaq commended the Ministry’s usual support for the country, particularly the state, on the success recorded in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes and Open Defecation Free (ODF).

He also sought the assistance of the Ministry for smooth implementation of a water master plan, which the state government is proposing, saying their collaboration is key to achieving the set goal.

“I commend your Ministry for the push on ODF. When we came in 2019, Nigeria overtook Bangladesh as one of the worst cases in ODF, and so we became number one in the World. Kwara was number one in North Central and last worst case in Nigeria. But with the efforts we made with your Ministry, we’ve gone up and we are no longer the worst case in ODF. We thank your Ministry’s support and engagement in that period,” he said.

“We also want to collaborate with and seek assistance from the Ministry on our new water master plan for Kwara.”

The Governor also acknowledged the important role of river basin development authorities in achieving food security, and tasked them to do more to achieve more.

“Without river basin development authorities, we cannot achieve the level of food security we want to achieve. That is something we really need to do. All your programmes on water and sanitation are basically essential things. If we get that right we will have less traffic in our primary healthcare facilities across the Nation. So, your Ministry is key to food security, good health, and human capital development,” the Governor added.

Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation Prof Joseph Terlumun Utsev, for his part, said they are in the state to kickstart a nationwide tour of projects, programmes and assessment of the challenges facing the River Basin Development Authorities for improved results, starting with Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority Ilorin.

The Minister sought the support of AbdulRazaq to use his office as NGF Chairman to talk to his colleagues to also key into the activities of River Basin Development Authorities across the federation.

“Your Excellency, this is a familiarization visit and assessment of the projects and programmes, including challenges of the River Basin Development Authorities in Nigeria. And we are here in Kwara state to start this tour because you are the Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), and we feel it is important to do that in order to receive your blessings and support,” the Minister added.

He said his Ministry is key in driving the renewed hope agenda of Mr. President, one of which he said is to achieve food security, improve on WASH programmes, and strengthen the national economy.

“During this visit to the state, we also aim to assess ongoing federal government projects in the state, and to commission those that are completed. Among these projects, the federal government has constructed for the purposes of irrigation, water supply and hydropower, and other empowerment programmes,” he added.

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