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FG is committed towards food security for Nigerians through River Basins—Dr. Aremu

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 In this interview with FELIX OKORO, the Managing Director of Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority, (LNRBDA), Ilorin, Dr. Saheed Aremu, the numerous efforts of the Federal Government towards ensuring food security for Nigerians was discussed among other sundry issues of national importance. Excerprts:

FG is committed towards food security for Nigerians through River Basins---Dr. Aremu

Dr. Saheed Aremu

Can we get to know you?
I am Dr. Adeniyi Saheed Aremu, the Managing Director of Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA).
What are your Areas of Coverage?
Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA) is one of the 12 River Basin Development Authorities in Nigeria. LNRBDA covers the entire geographical spread of Kwara State and two- thirds of Kogi State; that is Kogi Central and Kogi West Senatorial districts. The Authority has a total of five Area offices domiciled in Ilorin, Shonga, Omu-Aran, Ejiba and Lokoja.
Sir, in order to avoid misconception, kindly enumerate the functions of the RBDAs
The functions of RBDAs as enshrined in the Act that established the RBDAs include:
(a) To undertake comprehensive development of both surface and underground water resources for multipurpose use with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and the control of floods and erosion and for water- shed management;
Firstly, to construct, operate and maintain dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems, and other works necessary for the achievement of the Authority’s functions and hand over all lands to be cultivated under the irrigation scheme to the farmers.
Secondly, to supply water from the Authority’s completed storage schemes to all users for a fee to be determined by the Authority;
Thirdly, to construct, operate and maintain infrastructural services such as roads and bridges linking project sites: provided that such infrastructural services are included and form an integral part of the list of approved projects;
Also we committed to developing and keeping up-to-date, a comprehensive water resources master plan identifying all water resources requirements in the Authority’s area of operation, through adequate collection and collation of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the River Basin.
In addition, the Authority also executes other projects as contained in the yearly budget of the Authority as approved by Mr. President.
Food security is one of the major challenges facing Nigerians. What roles have your Authority played in terms of ensuring food sufficiency in the nation?
In order to ensure all year food production, the Authority constructed a number of Dams to provide water for irrigation during the dry season and between 2017 and 2021, 15 new irrigation schemes were established both in Kogi and Kwara States while the existing schemes were rehabilitated. In line with the Authority’s mandate and as contained in Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (ERGP) of Mr. President, the Authority has opened up over 1800 irrigable lands within its area of coverage for different agricultural purposes. READ
The Authority has been able to deliver one of its key services by the development of irrigated agriculture through the acquisition of more arable land and subsequent release to individuals, groups and corporate farmers. For instance, 500 hectares of farmland was purchased from customary land owners along Malete – Alapa road through the Kwara State Government for farming activities. The project when fully implemented is expected to open up the area for accelerated development, provide jobs and boost food sufficiency in Kwara State.
Equally, the Authority signed MOU with Kogi State Government and released over 5,000 hectares of its farmland to the State Government. Specifically at Ejiba Area Office in Kogi State, the partnership with the State Government yielded about 7,170 tons  of paddy rice from several farmers. The Authority has extended various gestures to her rice farmers in various parts of Kwara State with positive results as Kwara State Rice Farmers Association assumed the second largest producer of rice in the just concluded Rice Pyramid in Abuja.
Transportation of food has been one of the factors responsible for food shortage in the country, hence, the Authority constructed a number of access roads in both urban and rural settlements.
Some of these roads in the rural areas link the farm sites to the towns to help farmers convey their produce to the nearest markets to prevent post-harvest losses thereby improving the livelihood of the farmers and ensuring food sufficiency.
The Authority in 2017 also established a greenhouse for production of assorted vegetables under a controlled environment. A herd of cattle is being raised for fattening and dairies.
As contained in your mandate, how has LNRBDA fared in ensuring  access to clean and safe water?
In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 6) and the Authority’s mandate of providing access to clean and safe water, over 700 different kinds of boreholes have been drilled to date, while some were rehabilitated. Also a total of 35 Mini Water Works have been constructed across the five senatorial districts covered by the Authority between 2017 -2021. The Authority also rehabilitated and upgraded some water works.
One of the policy thrusts of the Hon. Minister of Water Resources Engr. Suleiman Adamu is to Revitalize the RBDAs. How far has LNRBDA gone?
When the Management came on Board in 2017, the Authority did Needs Assessment as a strategy to kick start the revitalization drive. In restoring the mandate, the Authority built institutional capacity, maximized operation and input, and created job opportunities through irrigation farming and aquaculture.
In terms of institutional capacity, the Authority has given the headquarters and residential estate a face lift. The Engineering complex, main store, mechanical workshop were extensively renovated and given a new outlook. The old conventional library was also upgraded to e-library and books which cut across all fields of human endeavors were purchased.
Also free access to internet service was provided for the staff within the Authority’s Headquarters. Recreational facilities were equally rehabilitated for staff welfare.
The Management of LNRBDA understands the importance of capacity building in ensuring better service delivery by members of staff and other keys stakeholders of the Authority. More than 300 members of staff have been trained between 2017 and 2021 across various Departments, Units and cadres. Also stakeholders in the Water Users Association were trained in line with the current trends of irrigation management, climate change and water-shed management.
As part of the Authority’s drive to automate some of its activities for better effectiveness, it has procured a drone for farmland mapping, land acquisition survey and survey of project design and construction. The Authority also purchased an  unmanned Surface Vessel (Apache 5) for underwater survey, monitoring, data collation and analysis.
Also, the Authority purchased an industrial drilling rig and Back Hoe Mini Excavator with a view to boost its revenue generation.  Farminputs such as: pesticides, herbicides, improved seeds, MPK fertilizer, and acquisition of new tractors (including their implements) were handed over to all Area Offices to ease and stimulate increased farming activities.
Nigeria has a large number of unemployed youth and vast agricultural land is faced with unavailability staple crops, hence, the Honourable Minister directed the RBDAs to embark on training of youth in various aspects of agriculture. Over sixty (60) youth have been trained in agribusiness, value addition, and livestock production. Starter packs were also given to them to be gainfully employed. These exclude yearly training of selected participants on agribusiness.
How has LNRBDA fared in terms of Agriculture extension and modern farming practices?
The Authority has made concerted efforts towards achieving integrated farming system, especially incorporating the Songhai Model. The Authority, in the 2019 Fiscal Year, awarded the contract for the establishment of Songhai Model Farm Centre in the Authority. The Integrated farm incorporates the principle of Circular Economy whereby raising livestock, fish production and crops as well as on-sites processing are fused together in a natural environment. The project has provided direct job for twenty (20) people and indirect for many retailers and wholesalers.
Your Area Offices are considered the major hubs of operation, in what ways have you made efforts to improve on what you met when took over leadership?
As part of efforts to have evenly distribution of resources to the grassroot, another area office was created in Omu-Aran, Kwara South senatorial district. One of the major innovations was to create individual budget heads dedicated to each of these area offices as against a single budget line for all the area offices. We have procured at least 2 new tractors with full implements for each of the Area Offices to boost their internally generated revenue drive of the Federal Government. We have spent over N500m on all the area offices since I took over as Managing Director.
Construction of rice mill building with installation of milling machine in some area offices, clearing of over 1800Ha of land in all the area offices, rehabilitation of residential building in some area offices were carried out, construction of perimeter fencing in some area offices were done, and development of Aquaculture and maintenance of existing canals to boost irrigation farming in commercial quantities.
ANNEXES
Some dam projects carried out by the  Authority :
• Aran-Orin Dam in Kwara South Senatorial district – Completed
• Omu-Aran Dam in Kwara South Senatorial district – Completed
• Yashikira Dam, Baruten LGA, Kwara State – Completed
• Okuta Dam, Baruten LGA, Kwara State –  Completed
• Iyah Gbede Dam, Ijumu LGA, Kogi State – Completed
• Takete-Idde Dam, Yagba East LGA, Kogi State  – Completed
• Moshe-Gada Dam, Baruten LGA, Kwara State – On-going
• Odo-Ape Dam, Kabba-Bunu LGA, Kogi State – On-going
• Kpada Dam, Patigi LGA, Kwara State –         On-going
Some  completed Flood and Erosion Control Works carried out by the Authority
S/N PROJECTS Status
1 Channelization and Flood Control Work At Koro Ile Ale Ileku Off Popo Giwa Ilorin, Ilorin West LGA, Kwara State Completed
2 Construction and Channelization within Iyaniwura Area of Igbona Road, Kwara State Completed
3 Construction and Channelization Within Oke-Andi Area, Ilorin East LGA, Kwara State Completed
4 Channelization and Flood Control Work Of Abimbola Street Tanke Ilorin, Ilorin South LGA, Kwara State Completed
5 Channelization and Flood Control Work At Isale Arowasi Off Ita Kudima Street Ilorin, Ilorin West LGA, Kwara State Completed
6 Channelisation and Road Rehabilitation At Asa Dam Estate Behind NNPC Mega Station Ilorin, Kwara State Completed
7 Flood And Erosion Control Along Owa Kojola street, Gaa Akanbi, Ilorin South LGA, Kwara State Completed
8 Ajibesin-Oniru Air Force Channelization And Flood Control, Oloje Housing Estate, Ilorin, Kwara State Completed
9 Erosion control at Upstream of Afelele Dam, Offa Completed
10  Flood and Erosion Control Works Along Enji River, Offa, Kwara State Completed
SN Projects Status
11 Erosion Control At Printing Road, Off Offa Road Gra, Ilorin South Lga, Kwara State Completed
12 Erosion Control Works At Chiroma Patigi Road, Kwara State  Completed
13 Erosion Control Works At Ibrahim Dama Mawogi Road, Patigi, Kwara State Completed
14 Erosion Control and Surface Dressing of Farm Access On Ikotun Road In Ojoku, Oyun LGA, Kwara State Completed
15 Flood And Erosion Control Works In Otte-Etile Ballah Junction Asa LGA Kwara Central Senatorial District Completed
16 Flood And Erosion Control Work At Pakata Ubandawaki, Govt. Girls Day Sec. Sch. Road, Ilorin Completed
Some drilled borehole locations
S/N LOCATION
1 Owalobo Palace Obbo-Ile, Ekiti LGA Kwara State
2 Emi Kochita Alera, Ifelodun LGA, Kwara State
3 Ajuba Area, Oba’s Compound Ijagbo, Oyun LGA Kwara State
4 Gaa Olomi funfun, Offa, Offa LGA Kwara State
5 Odole Compound Agodogbo Community Oke-Ode Ifelodun LGA  Kwara State.
6 Imanuma Area, Ipee New Extension, Oyun LGA, Kwara State
7 (1) Edoji community,Lafiagi,Edu  LGA,Kwara State (2)Budo Alfa community,Babadudu Ward. Moro LGA Kwara State.
8 Emi Madaki, Tsaragi Compound, Edu LGA, Kwara State
9 Construction of 3 Nos Solar Motorised Borehole At 1.Oniwasi Agbaye Community, Islamic Village, Ilorin 2.Gbagba Community, By Rafat, Hospital, Ilorin  3. Okekere, Ilorin Kwara State
10 Construction of solar powered boreholes in 1. Elerewi community Olorunshogo. 2. Upper Alagbado phase II community, Ilorin Kw/St 3. Ifedapo community Gerewu Area, 4. Adewudere community Ajikobi Area, Ilorin Kwara State.
11 Construction of 1 no industrial borehole along Sikiru Ottan Street, Off Taoheed Road, Oke Andi Area, Ilorin.
12 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in Kwara North, Kwara State. (1) kucheigi Village Tsonga Ward 1 (2) Kanko Village Tsonga Ward 1
13 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in Kwara North, Kwara State (1) Bologi nursery & primary school permanent site opp Sim school Patigi (2) Asomu Village Moro L.G.A. (3)Egbon Manyia Lafiagi Edu L.G.A.
14 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in kwara north, kwara state (1)Egbon Tutunti Lafiagi Edu L.G.A. (2) Sabo Yaya Village Tsonga Ward 1
15 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in Kwara North, Kwara State (1)Egbon Tsonfadako Tsonga township
16 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in Kwara North, Kwara State (1) White House opp. Govt. Technical College Patigi
17 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in Kwara North, Kwara State (1) Emir’s palace yasikira
18 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in Kwara North, Kwara State (1) Kpada market patigi L.G.A.
19 Construction of  industrial boreholes with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (basement/sedimentary) in Kwara North, Kwara State (1) Hamed Mohamed close Yasikira
20 Construction of  handpump boreholes (basement/sedimentary) in kwara north, kwara state (1) maganiko ndanangi edu L.G.A. (2) Edota kimpa in edu L.G.A.
21 Construction of mini-motorized borehole with generator on 1.5m elevated block base (sedimentary area), in Kwara North,Kwara State. (1) Motokun patigi L.G.A.
22 Construction of motorised borehole with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (sedimentary area), in kogi central, Kogi State. Near L.G.A. primary school, makaranta, ozuja, okengwe, Kogi State
23 Construction of motorised borehole with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (sedimentary area), in kogi central, kogi state. Umoru saliu compound, okengwe, okene lga, kogi state
24 Construction of motorised borehole with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (sedimentary area), in kogi central, kogi stat.e alh. Salihu onicoke area, ozuja okengwe, kogi state
25 Construction of motorised borehole with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (sedimentary area), in kogi central, kogi state. Alh. Yusuf anako compound irigoni, otoyi-uvete, okengwe, okene lga
26 Motorised Borehole at Alapa/Onire Odegiwa Ward, Asa LGA, Kwara State
27 Motorised Borehole at Afon Asa LGA, Kwara State
28 Construction of 1no. Motorised borehole at Osin Okete, Ilorin West LGA, Kwara State
29 Construction of 1 no Motorised borehole by Wisdom House Behind Alikila School, beside Alikila House and beside Eduforte Heritage Nursery and Primary School, Oke-Kudu Airport Area, Ilorin
30 Construction of motorised borehole with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (sedimentary area), in kogi central, kogi state. Hajia Halima Kende House, Nagazi By Kabba Junction, House No. 77 Adavi LGA, Kogi State
31 Construction of motorised borehole with generator and plastic tank on 6m stanchion (sedimentary area), in kogi central, kogi state (1). Garido avenue, eika-oku quarters, okengwe (2). Ageva new layout, okeneL.G.A. , Kogi State
32 Provision of complete package solar powered boreholes with elevated steel tank on 9m stanchion in Kogi central, Kogi State. (1). Osochokodo, opposite obongora hotel checkpoint, okene L.G.A. (2). Salaam checkpoint, inside okene teacher’s college, okene L.G.A. (3). Budoko community by iruvochi ovovo, okene L.G.A.
33 Provision of complete package solar powered boreholes with elevated steel tank on 9m stanchion in kogi central, kogi state. (1).ozi ohindase, oro new layout, okengwe L.G.A. (2). Nta lane,beside celestial church, okengwe L.G.A.
34 Provision of complete package solar powered boreholes with elevated steel tank on 9m stanchion in kogi central, kogi state. (1). Otite  community, opposite fce,okene L.G.A. (2). No 37 idoji street, okene L.G.A.
35 Provision of complete package solar powered boreholes with elevated steel tank on 9m stanchion in Kogi central, kogi state. Ukpogoro Layout, Iduboko Checkpoint Okene, L.G.A
36 Construction of Motorised Boreholes in Offa, Erinle, Falokun Owode, Shaare, Idofian Ganmo, Amonyo, Igbodun, Kwara State
37 Construction of Borehole at Ifelodun/Offa/Oyun Fed. Constituency, Kwara State
38 Construction of Solar Powered Borehole in Idah,Ibaji, Igalamela Ofu Federal Constituency
39 Construction of Motorised Boreholes in Offa, Erinle, Falokun Owode, Shaare, Idofian Ganmo, Amonyo, Igbodun, Kwara State
40 Construction of Solar Powered Boreholes in Ankpa, Omala, Olamoboro Federal Constituency, Kogi State
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FG is committed towards food security for Nigerians through River Basins---Dr. Aremu

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