The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu on Monday in Abuja decried the level of decay in water and irrigation projects across the country.
Adamu told the News Agency of Nigeria that the Federal Government would, however, ensure the completion of the abandoned projects rather than embark on new ones.
“Honestly, I am very sad. What has emerged from these trips is that our fore fathers, the founding fathers of the Ministry of Water Resources and Agriculture have done a tremendous amount of work for this country, which succeeding generations have allowed to waste and have done little.
“Not only have they not improved on it, they have allowed the whole thing to deteriorate.
“A lot of the infrastructure that we visited were built in the 70s and early 80s at that time if you imagine the amount of money that were spent on infrastructure and the kind of support they were providing to people.
“And you see how desolate we found them, it’s quite appalling, but all is not lost, the infrastructure is there.
“All we need to do is to change our attitude and to try to see how we can invest more money and accord them the priority that they deserve.
“Thankfully, this government has identified the need to give priority to agriculture, and therefore, it’s an opportunity to revive them, expand them and rehabilitate them.”
He said the Federal Government was committed to expanding irrigation farming, adding that its target was to have no less than 500,000 hectares of irrigated agriculture by 2030.
Adamu, who cited the Kano River Irrigation scheme, said although it may be one of the largest in the country, one third of the irrigation facility was not cultivated in the dry season.
“This is all because of a simple rehabilitation of the canal for the water to get there. It is not because there is no water, it is simply mismanagement.”
He said that the World Bank-supported Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) programme would promote food security and all year farming.
Adamu, however, stressed the need for beneficiaries to take ownership of all water projects towards a sustainable agriculture development, stressing that government alone could not provide and protect such projects.
He urged beneficiaries of the irrigation schemes to do more and protect the facilities, adding that the era of free services was over.
“One of the problems is that beneficiaries always think that this is a government thing, so they don’t feel that they have a responsibility to maintain them.”