NGO urges States, LGs to prioritise access to potable water

An NGO, the Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), has urged States and Local governments to prioritise access to potable water for citizens.

NEWSAN National Coordinator, Mr Benson Attah, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday.

Attah said access to potable water was still a problem in Nigeria.

According to him, it is worrisome that many states and local governments have failed to understand their duties and responsibilities to the citizens.

“Leadership of the states still lacked enough orientation about their roles or duties to the citizens. Do they know that the citizens have rights w

hich must be respected or is it just lack respect to the citizens right, needs or plights?

`The people elected them. They must be committed to the citizens. These are the primary issues and responsibilities of the governors immediately they resume duty before venturing to other things.

“The state and federal governments should realise that it is not the duty of the Federal government to provide water to the citizens.

“It is the duty of the state and local governments to provide water, sanitation and hygiene to their citizens’’.

While commending the Federal Government on efforts to bring in programmes and practices that are obtainable internationally to the country, he said it was left for the states to adopt and implement them for the citizens through their LGAs.

He said access to water would continue to remain a challenge in Nigeria because those in charge of the authority of the states have never been well informed about development.

Attah noted that on assumption of office, many state governors were not taken through any form of orientation with regards to their rights and duty to the citizens and the right of the citizens demanded of them by the constitution.

This, he added, could be reflected when water facilities are provided and the media invited to publicise the commissioning of such project.

“The situation even gets worst now when all the Local Government Authorities have been shut down and made non-functional in almost all the states except in about 3 states in the country and even at that, they are not given free hand to run the LGAs.

“The local government authorities that would have been responsible for providing water to the citizens cannot carry out such responsibility because they have been tactically paralysed and rendered incapacitated.

“This is due to non-accessibility of the LGA resources allocated to them instead, the State governors are directly controlling the LGAs funds.

“The Solution to all these shall be, that all Political Parties must teach all their candidates their manifesto, that elected politicians at every level must be taken through the Nigerian Constitution before they resume office.

“That they are particularly made to learn the meaning of Human Rights and they have to learn the different human rights to the citizens. They must also learn their duties and responsibility to their offices and the citizens.’’

Also speaking, Mrs Jummai Wakaso, National Coordinator, Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH), the Federal Government has been intervening in meeting the water needs of the rural and urban populations.

According to her, within the last four years of programme implementation, no fewer than 700 water facilities have been constructed in pilot states of Ogun and Kano states.

This, she noted, was being scaled up in some states through the construction of 895 water facilities.

“Since programme inception, we have rehabilitated over 1,800 water facilities in rural areas, we have also upgraded these facilities from motorised to solar-powered water facilities.

She however expressed worry over states’ inability to play their part in provision of counterpart funds, as the programme was on a 50/50 counterpart project matching.

According to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) survey, only about 18 million Nigerians, which represents less than 10 per cent of the population, have access to pipe-borne water.

The survey showed that the total number of Nigerians with access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services dropped to 18 million people in 2019 from 21 million in the preceding year.

The WASH NORM report is an annual survey of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) that provides regular pointers for measuring progress in the WASH sector. (NAN)