Apparently piqued by the publication in some national dailies over alleged non-implementation of the provisions for water, sanitation and hygiene in the 2017 budget for Kogi State the State Commissioner for water resources Barrister Salami Ozigi has berated the sponsors of the publication for being shallow minded.
He explained that Most of the projects by the previous administration were not implemented hence it was not the fault of the ministry.
According to him, the situation is worse than they have painted it adding that areas they mentioned are not the only areas with problems.
“We proposed and raised memo but there was no cash backing because of the financial situation.
“When you see provisions in the budget it is just there in paper, you cannot use that one against anybody that maybe he has budgeted Over N100m for a particular project, it is when that can be translated into money and it is released then they can ask questions that border on implementation.”
He said money has not been released for the budget adding that critics are supposed to have gone further to investigate whether the money was made available an it was expended.
“They should have come to the ministry to ascertain their facts.”
According to him water projects, which are expensive to run, are scattered all over and yet people don’t pay for water.
He said the ministry has decided to make the communities take ownership of the projects in their domain.
Ozigi indicated that since government has put the facilities in place the people should take ownership by contributing some token for the maintenance of the plants.
The monitoring and evaluation unit of the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), a non-governmental Organisation of the Catholic Church had raised alarm over over non-implementation of those provisions in the Budget.
In a statement signed by Rev. Fr Leonard Odomeja, the Director of JDPC, Catholic diocese of Lokoja he pointed out that the 2017 budget provisions of N300 million earmarked for the expansion and improvement of the township water supply schemes and N450 million allocated for the construction of urban towns and local government headquarters water schemes have not been implemented Ozigi
It also stated that the N144. 747 million set aside in the budget for water schemes in some communities including, Ege, Idoji, Obangede, and Adogo among others were yet to become a reality.
Despite N800 million provided for water project schemes, several communities in the Anyigba, Ejule, Idah, Agaliga lack access to portable water, the statement said.
The statement punctured the claim by the Ministry of Water Resources that it has rehabilitated/ constructed 23 water projects as it could not verify them neither could they see the projects in any of the communities mentioned as beneficiaries.
The JDPC had commenced the implementation of a social accountability project; increasing citizens participation and inclusive Governance for improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Kogi State in 2016.
It stated that the social project embarked upon to promote citizens’ and community participation in the governance structure of Kogi state; mobilizing citizens/communities to dialogue with the duty bearers (government) to solicit for improved supply of water to the people and create awareness and advocate for behavioural change on sanitary and hygiene practices.
“The project is being implemented in 13 communities spread across the three senatorial districts of the state.
“The communities include Ege, Idoji, Kuroko, Adogo and Obangede in Kogi Central senatorial district and Adankolo, Felele, Banda, Kabbawa and Sarki Nnoma in Kogi West senatorial district.
Others are Agaliga, Idah, Anyigba, Ankpa and Ejule in Kogi East senatorial district.
According to the Statement, JDPC discovered that several communities within Lokoja town experience lack of water supply despite the acclaimed rehabilitation of the old water works in Lokoja and the N500 million allocated to the Greater Lokoja water supply scheme phase II.
It said that although, the ministry of rural development allocated N1.2 billion for the provision of 500 boreholes, several rural communities in the state still lack access to water supply.
The JDPC called on the duty bearers so show more commitment in arresting water deficits currently being experienced in many parts of Kogi State, including Lokoja the state capital.
It expressed delight over what it called a slight improvement in water supply to communities like Adankolo, Kabawa, Obangede and Ankpa.
Credits: John Akubo | Guardian