By: Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
The Chairman of House of representatives Committee on Rural Development, Oladipo Adebutu, has called on Federal Government to harness water resources in the country through different water basin development authorities to boost agriculture.
Adebutu made the call yesterday while on a working visit to Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority, Alabata, Abeokuta as part of the oversight functions of the committee.
According to him, “rural development has a very important component which is efficient agriculture and it is not possible to have efficient agriculture without truly harnessing the water resources we have.
The chairman however lamented the paulsity of funds that has slowed down the operations of the basins across the country.
“The obvious and very fundamental problem is the problem of funding. Agriculture as a whole is underfunded. For a nation that is desiring to diversify its economy, to gradually move into the realm of agriculture, we are still underfunding agriculture and of course, as a consequence, rural development, water development and all that suffer that same underfunding.
“We must as a nation make more of our resources available to develop agriculture and related sectors. You will not do agriculture anywhere in the world without properly harnessing water. You will not harness water without providing support facilities to create a better synergy even if you have fantastic dams and farmers are able to do crops a year, if you do not have rural roads to move these crops out, then you have failed. So, all these things have to work hand in hand and I’m very sure with the quality of leadership that we have here, we shall be able to attain this.”
On the potential of Oyan Dam under Ogun Osun River basin development authority to generate power, the chairman said it was better for government to involve private sector more in providing some essential services saying, “We have spoken extensively here about fundamental issues of policy. But I think the general disposition of our majority is that sometimes it is better to allow the private sector to do these things. When you allow the private sector to unleash its strength, you find that a lot of things government cannot do; government should not be in the business of doing business. You can actually allow free enterprise to take hold and take rein and a lot of pressure will be taken off. I personally support that instead of just leaving this facility under-utilised, we should find a way.”
In his remarks, the managing director of Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority, Mr Olufemi Odumosu said the authority was ready to ” synergize because most of the programmes of the river basin are more or less rural-development based. So, there is need to work with the committee, especially in terms of budgetary support.
“Just like the chairman of the committee has said, there is no point in having all these our dam projects and other things without considering the development of the other rural infrastructure like rural roads and other things that would enable you to have access and get the optimal benefits from all these our project.”