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Raising the hopes of riverine communities

With over 90 per cent of the population in Kano, Yobe, Jigawa and Borno states depending on these rivers for agricultural activities, the development of…

With over 90 per cent of the population in Kano, Yobe, Jigawa and Borno states depending on these rivers for agricultural activities, the development of same to provide adequate water for farming, fishing and grazing of animals is the most valued democracy dividend any government or public officer can offer the people.

The attempt by the Bauchi state government to construct the Kafin-Zaki dam on the Jama’are/Hadejia River has remained contentious and putting to test Senator Ahmad Lawan’s covenant to protect and serve the interests of his electorate in Yobe North senatorial district.

Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan’s voice in the National Assembly had promoted such interests with ease.  Senator Lawan contested the proposal with coherent, pragmatic and tangible evidence submitting that the livelihoods of over 10 million people from his constituency and the downstream states would be exposed to threat and annihilation.

Senator Lawan took his arguments to the Federal Government, and other stakeholders. His voice made the Federal Government to resist any attempt to breach the established due process of embarking on such a project.  This led to the commissioning of Sahel Consult firm by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment. In consonance with this, Yobe government issued its official position vehemently opposing the proposed dam construction.

Governor Ibrahim Gaidam contended that the construction of Tiga and Challawa dams in 1976 and 1992 respectively, arrested 44 per cent of the water flow into Kumadugu-Yobe River and, Kafin-Zaki dam shall only compound the problem resulting in poor irrigation, weed infestation, siltation, desertification and loss of occupation by farmers, fishermen and herdsmen.

The evidences provided by the Yobe government and Senator Lawan were so convincing to make the federal and Bauchi state governments and other stakeholders appreciate the veracity of the dangers and colossal damage portended by the proposed dam on the population.

In appreciation of the lawmaker’s dedication and commitment to the cause of promoting water development and agriculture, the farming communities on the Kumadugu/Yobe river basin on April 11, 2009, took advantage of the social event at the Emir of Bade’s palace to confer and honour Senator Lawan with the title of ‘Garkuwan Talakawa’ (Shield of the Masses) and, challenging other public officers to emulate the senator in effectively representing the rights and interests of their electorates.

Senator Lawan has further sponsored a motion on the Optimization of Tiga and Challawa Gorge Dams to allow for sustainable and more beneficial utilization of the water resources in the Hadejia-Jama’are Komadugu-Yobe basin.

With the support of his colleagues in the Senate, resolutions were passed, urging the Federal Government to provide funding for the dredging of the blocked channels of the Hadejia River System to allow for free flow of water downstream to his Senatorial District and beyond.  Consequently, the Federal Government has approved N300 million for the first phase of the project in this year. Already, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources advertised the procurement of the job early June.

For the people in Yobe North Senatorial District, democracy, through their elected representative in the Senate, has done them proud and have every reason to defend, promote and safeguard it.

Bakura Alkali wrote this piece from No 17, Kano Road, Nguru, Yobe State

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