The Federal Government has agreed to publish details of spending and locations of projects on water and sanitation for periods covering 2010—2016, as well as details of allocations to the 36 states of the federation.
The decision to make public details of the water and sanitation projects followed a Freedom of Information request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP),
DAILY POST recalls that SERAP had asked Engr. Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources to explain why Nigeria’s water and sanitation infrastructure had continued to deteriorate and millions of Nigerians have to resort to drinking water from contaminated sources with deadly health consequences, despite the authorities claiming to have spent trillions of naira of budgetary allocations on the sector since the return of democracy in 1999.
Responding, Mr Adamu in a letter with reference number FMWR/LU/S/374/I, dated 12th March 2018, said, “The Federal Ministry of Water Resources will work hard to provide SERAP with the details of spending, and the information requested as they relate specifically to Water and Sanitation projects from 2010 to 2016.
“The Federal Ministry of Water Resources was demerged from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2010. A copy of your letter will be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for action on the other years before 2010.”
The letter signed on behalf of Mr Adamu by P.C. Mbam, Acting Director (Legal) of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources also stated that, “For emphasis sake, we advise that SERAP should send a separate request directly to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the period (1999-2010) outside the purview of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources’ projects. Please accept the assurances of the Honourable Minister’s warmest regards.”
Reacting to the development, SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale said in a statement today, “We welcome the firm commitment by Mr Adamu to explain to Nigerians what exactly have happened to trillions of naira budgeted for water and sanitation across the country between 2010–2016. Mr Adamu’s commitment is refreshing, especially coming at a time many public institutions and ministries such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are rejecting public requests for information and making information on the spending our commonwealth harder to access.
“While the NNPC has been a vocal opponent of the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Adamu can become the publicnumber one advocate and defender of the law if he makes good his commitment to publish the information requested without delay. We hope the NNPC and other ministries, agencies and departments can take a cue from the speed with which Mr Adamu responded to SERAP’s request, and hisexpressed willingness to embrace both the letter and spirit of the FOI Act, in terms of transparency and accountability.
“We hope that Mr Adamu will act promptly as promised but we will keep our legal options open should he renege on his commitment.
“When the information is finally released as promised, it will be an important step towards reversing a culture of secrecy and corruption that has meant that high-ranking government officials continue to look after themselves at the expense of the well-being of majority of Nigerians, and development of the country.”