George Okoh in Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom has commended the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for kick-starting the National Urban Water Sector Reform Project in Benue state.
Ortom who received the ministry’s delegation led by Fashoyi Adewale Olabode at Benue People’s House recently, assured stakeholders that his administration would give full backing to the project which covers 12 states.
The governor said the state government has demonstrated commitment to all the projects being handled by the federal government and development partners, adding that N5 billion was being spent on such projects; with education taking a lion share of N3.8 billion.
According to him, the N3.8 billion attracted a counterpart fund of N3.8 billion from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), bringing the total to N7.6 billion, which is being spent on the development of primary education in the state.
The governor further stated that development partners that left the state because of the problem of counterpart funds have all returned, with N1.2 billion released as counterpart fund for the projects being executed by them in the areas of water, health and so on.
He said unlike other projects, the National Urban Water Sector Reform Project does not attract counterpart fund and directed the Commissioner for Water Resources, Engr. Nick Wende, to ensure that the committee for the smooth implementation of the reform project was set up.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Acting Project Coordinator of the National Urban Water Sector Reform, Mr. Olabode, had told the governor that study for the reform started in 2012 and that two states were chosen from each of the six geo-political zones.
Olabode said the project has a consultant who carries out diagnosis of the states’ water boards in the aspects of political commitment to the reform, water reform policy and commercialisation, cost recovery and policy implementation as well as capability of the water board.
He announced the donation of a Toyota Hilux vehicle to the state and added that a grant has been extended to the federal government for the water reform project.