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Water Politics In South East Nigeria

by InlandTown Editor
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It was the famous Greek philosopher, Thales that floated the idea that “water is life.” Several research findings still point to the fact that living things cannot do without water. Water accounts for a good proportion of the human person and living. Even the late music maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti in one of his tracks, water no get enemy; stated as much.

However, this all important creation of God is not available for the people of the South East zone due to lack of planning or neglect by the various administrations that have served in the five states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo which make up the area.

Politicians still play politics with provision of water. During the first republic, politicians were said to have used water supply as a weapon of blackmail against communities.

Weapon of blackmail

They would take water pipes to communities in order to woo them but later went back to collect such pipes if such communities failed to vote for them. Apart from the second republic when both the governors of old Anambra and Imo States, Senator Jim Nwobodo and late Chief Sam Mbakwe respectively tackled the issue of water, no other administration in the new states that emerged from the area due to constant adjustments by successive federal administrations has ever done anything meaningful in this regard.

Mbakwe started the greater Owerri, Umuahia, Okigwe and Aba Water Schemes but could not complete all of them before the Muhammadu Buhari coup which terminated the life of the republic. Jim Nwobodo also started the greater Enugu, Awka, Onitsha, Abakaliki and Nsukka Water Schemes but could not complete them before he lost power to late Chief Christian Onoh in a controversial election in 1983. Today, most of those water schemes are yet to be completed, thus exacerbating the problem of acute water shortage in the zone. The story is arranged state by state.

Unending water scarcity in Abia: In Abia State pipe borne water is non-existent. No part of the state, including the capital, Umuahia and the commercial nerve centre, Aba has functioning pipe borne water as present and past governments have been paying lip service to the provision of potable water; one of the essentials of life. In fact it will be very apt to describe the state Water Board as existing only on paper.

The state has a Ministry of Public Utilities, and each administration, had a commissioner for the ministry and whose only visible job as observed by the residents of the cities is occasional repair of street lights. The people of Abia State had often wondered if provision of pipe borne water is part of the duty of the government.

Expectedly, the failure of the government to provide this basic necessity of life has provided opportunity for private individuals to sink commercial boreholes in every corner of the state’s cities, especially in Aba and Umuahia. It is these private boreholes that the people utilize for drinking and other domestic purposes.

It is a common sight, on daily basis, to see residents, especially children carry kegs of various sizes in search of water from the private boreholes scattered across the cities even as most of the boreholes sunk by politicians as constituency projects are not functional. Such projects which are usually commissioned with fanfare are merely for show.

Poor environment of the boreholes

Perhaps due to the poor environment of some of the boreholes, some of the users often contract one illness or the other. For those who can afford it, sachet (pure) water serves as drinking water.

Yet year in, year out, the government makes budgetary provisions for pipe borne water as passed by the House of Assembly. Perhaps it is time the people begin to ask the law makers and the executive questions about the allocations made for pipe borne water, and hold them accountable.

Water supply: Anambra’s jinxed sector

THE new Anambra State may have been developing fast in many sectors since its creation in 1991, but one area the state has lagged behind is in the water supply sector. Perhaps the reason for the neglect might be as a result of the total dearth of infrastructure at the creation of the state, which made the various governments that had been in place to face such important areas as roads, health and education and significantly enough, the state has fared well in those sectors.

There are many gigantic water schemes in various parts of the state, including the famous Nkisi Regional Water Scheme in Onitsha started by the Nwobodo administration in the second republic, the Nnewi water scheme, the Awka water scheme, the Enugwu Ukwu and Nimo Water schemes, which, unfortunately are no longer functioning.

The worrisome situation is that most cities in the state do not enjoy public water supply, thus paving the way for commercial water vendors in the state to thrive.

A major attempt at rehabilitating water schemes in the state was during the administration of the immediate past governor, Mr. Peter Obi, when the state government attracted many international donor agencies to assist in the provision of water. Following a study, it was felt that the short term approach towards solving the problem was to sink boreholes in strategic places as an interim measure.

By Emeka Mamah, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Anayo Okoli, Nwabueze Okonkwo and Peter Okutu

Culled from vanguard: Vanguard

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