Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, on Monday, called on the private sector and other stakeholders to be involved in the proection of the nations’ rivers from man-made pollution.
Adamu made this call at an event commemorating the 2022 World Rivers Day, with the theme: ‘The Importance of Rivers to Biodiversity’, in Abuja.
He said that challenges, such as pollution through dumping of refuse and untreated sewage wastes, open defecation, urbanisation and climate change were still affecting the nations’ waterways.
According to him, rivers have rights and they need to be healthy, as this is critical for promoting livelihood support and sustenance to those who depend on them.
He said that private individuals and volunteers had a huge role to play in protecting rivers and lakes, adding that this was crucial for public health and socio-economic development.
“We are in a society where everybody is waiting for government to do everything; this is not supposed to be the case; I will like to see volunteers and champions.
“We need to create an arrangement where the society and people take ownership themselves. These things are not owned by government. So people should be able to come and take ownership and do the needful.
“We are sending the message and we hope that the citizens will come to do the needful, even if it’s just a question of, okay, I will not drop this bottle in this river.
“I think you have done enough if we can get people to stop polluting the rivers; that will be a major achievement,’’ he said.
The minister said he had mandated the 12 River Basin Development Authorities and Agencies to carry out regular and increased advocacy programmes for rivers’ restoration, protection and conservation.
This, he said, would be done within the framework of Integrated River Basin Management, for the overall development and management of all water resources.
Earlier, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs Didi Walson-Jack, said that rivers had been degraded, diverted, and polluted at high cost to people and the earth’s living system for a long time.
She stressed the need for scaling up national efforts toward rivers’ remediation, protection and conservation in the interest of the present and future generations.
Prof. Ramah Elfithri, Representative, Regional Centre for Integrated River Basin Management in Nigeria, urged all stakeholders to do more to protect rivers’ water quality.
According to her, the quality of the country’s rivers and lakes will ensure livelihood support for those living around them.
She also called for more measures to protect the biodiversity of all water resources, saying that this would promote inclusive development.
Highlights of the event were a memorial tree planting and symbolic river clean up at Jabi Lake in the FCT.