How we spent billions on water projects – Minister

Minister of Water, Suleiman Adamu has given an account of how the ministry spent billions in water projects across the country.

Premium Times reports The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has finally fulfilled his promise to render account on spending on water projects across the country by providing Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) with detailed information on spending of billions of naira on 292 projects between 2010 and 2016.

The documents were presented last week before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Mr Adamu had in September asked the court to grant the ministry more time within which to compile and furnish SERAP with information on the spending on water, and locations of specific projects, in view of the high volume of the information involved.

When the case up last Friday, the court asked the minister’s lawyer: “If SERAP is asking for information, why is your ministry not providing it?” Mr Adamu’s lawyer answered: “we have just furnished SERAP with the information they requested.” The court welcomed the action by the ministry of water resources, and said that the ministry of agriculture too should give SERAP the information requested rather than coming to court.

SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale said, “We are studying the large documents on spending on several water projects, with some completed but also several more uncompleted. Our team is analysing the total project sums, comparing the amounts spent on projects. We will publish the full information together with our analysis on our website and social media platforms shortly. We are now sharing the information on just 19 of the 292 projects, with summaries of some of the amounts spent. We have also set up a verification team to check the status of projects against the total amounts reportedly spent.”

SERAP also said: “We welcome Mr Adamu’s demonstrated commitment to the Freedom of Information Act. He is our Public Defender Number 1 of the FOI. We call on the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh to emulate Mr Adamu by immediately releasing information on spending in his ministry, as stated by the court. The National Assembly, ministries, agencies and departments should also learn from the good example shown by Mr Adamu by honouring and respecting the FOI Act, and thereby contributing to the efforts to achieve greater level of transparency and accountability in Nigeria.”

The cover letter, together with a bundle of documents presented in open court and signed on Mr Adamu’s behalf by P.C. Mbam, Acting Director (Legal), with reference number FMWR/LU/S/401, read in part: “I have been directed to forward to SERAP the attached information you requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 from the Minister of Water Resources.”

The documents reveal spending on 292 projects in several parts of Nigeria between 2010 and 2016.

The documents read in part: “out of the N2,000,000,000.00 of the total project sum for assisted small town water supply and sanitation programme in Adamawa, Delta and Ekiti states, N20,537,667.00 was appropriated and reportedly spent in 2011. N30,000,000.00 was appropriate and spent in 2012; N150,000,000.00 was appropriated and spent in 2013; N110,000,000.00 was appropriated and spent in 2014; N11,764,706.00 was appropriated and spent in 2015; and N60,000,000.00 was appropriated and spent in 2016.”

“The total project sum to construct Otor-Iyede water supply in Isoko North local government, Delta State was N489,169,002.26. However, the project was stated to be only 30% completed; with zero appropriation and spending for 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013; 2014 and 2015. But N50,000,000.00 was appropriated and spent on the project in 2016.”