Rivers without Water

Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State had on 18th August 2008 assured the people of the state that the water programmes of his administration would not fail. “Unlike before” was the right ward he used to define how ‘serious’ the promise was. Speaking at the at the Consultative Forum on Potable Water Supply, held at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Port Harcourt, Amaechi oiled his words by lecturing that he noticed that past water programmes did not succeed in the state due to the quest to get instantaneous solution. He explained that he would not set his compass on a quick situation; his administration was taking its time to cram the situation on ground.

His claim for this was hinged on a promise that his administration was coming up with enduring elucidations to the water problems in the state. He however pleaded for endurance from the Rivers masses, adding that his-led government would continue to be transparent by “accounting for every kobo spent.” He said that, “Government’s fund is not for personal use, but for purposes of overall development of the state.” Did he say government’s fund is not for personal use, but for purposes of overall development of the state? (Nobody should remember the $48B aircraft here, which the governor wants to get “right”).

While people lived on the plea for patience, it is cremating that this administration is still slapdash in the construction of rural electrification, rural roads, and qualitative education that were contained in the promise index, according to the government, “with the seriousness they deserve”, three years and, after.

The government is now giving excuses for the un-accomplishment of the proposed promises on what it termed “capital intensive nature of government projects.” The government had promised the people of implementing its long queue of projects in phases, but whether is it rural or urban water supply, which one has been phasesly accomplished?

Does the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources need commendation for always organizing programmes without providing potable water for the people? Dr. Doris Fisher, the Commissioner for Water Resources in 2008, warned that water is the most pressing need of every human being. She “identified lack of attention, poor funding and improper coordination as some of the problems militating against efforts to provide adequate and qualitative water in the state.”

It is bizarre that Rivers State is endowed with a rich and vast diversity of natural resources, but portable and drinkable water is out of place. Very sad!

Water’s lack plays a vital role in back-rolling the state, even though that the governor had promised that the state would look light Lagos and Abuja in term of development. However, the disintegrated water management in the state is “vital” for poverty promotion people are suffering, environmental disharmony and economic underdevelopment. Is it not in any genuine Water Policy that the water resources of a state should be developed and managed in an integrated manner? If this is correct, why is Rivers State Water Policy disintegrated?

A political opposition party in Rivers State had since condemned the government of the state for its failure to take its promises serious, especially on the promise for the provision of water in the state throughout the past four years of Amaechi in government.

This brings to question what the state Water Resources Commissioner, Dr. Patricia Simon-Hart wants to do for with the request for N250 billion for the rehabilitation of the water scheme in the Port Harcourt metropolis? Were there no already existing water structures by the past governments in the state? Were there no time pipe borne was in use in Port Harcourt? Why the N250 billion?

No one should blame anybody or group that sees Dr. Simon-Hart’s proposal and request as spurious and far from down-to-earth. No one should blame the party for saying that the sum demanded by Dr. Patricia Simon-Hart for the provision of potable water in the Port Harcourt metropolis shows her inept working awareness to run such a sensitive segment as water resources ministry in Rivers State.

The government has been called to give account of all the money allegedly went to the Water Resources Ministry of the state in the past three to four years. The opposition party said: “Especially given the fact that most residents of the city have provided their own water within the period under consideration and may have even forgotten that water pipes lie underground in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor communities of the state.”

The Rivers masses are yet to comprehend this government that always pleads for forgiveness of its failures with excuses of facing “serious challenges.” Untold sufferings and diseases have not yet abated in this government upon its earlier promises that it will not be like the successive governments that it claimed were unable to provide the people with their need of potable water, especially.

Amaechi-led government should avoid manufacturing excuses and hold excuses as responsible for its failure, should it fail at last.

It should not take the Amaechi-led government till 2025 to realize some fundamental needs of the people, like drinkable water. People are tired of carrying big rubbers of water on their heads from distances. Amaechi should avoid situations where his promises and statements no longer excite the people. It is surprising that there was no water in Rivers State, but it marked the World Water Day, WWD, on March 22, alongside the Federal Government.

Written by
Odimegwu Onwumere
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