Part of what Nigerians expected when the country got its independence on October 1, 1960, was freedom and better life, most especially in the provision of infrastructure and basic amenities.
The leaders in the First Republic were overthrown and some killed and having assumed the leadership not via the universal suffrage, Nigerians could not demand for many things from them.
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The Second, Third and even the Fourth republics’ leaders campaigned to provide water, electricity among many other basic amenities to the populace.
Nigeria is a party to the United Nations Declaration of the Right to Water, which entitles every Nigerian to sufficient, affordable and safe potable water for personal and domestic uses.
A survey conducted by Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF in 2019, however, showed millions of households in Nigeria do not have access to clean water sources. While the supply of clean water in Nigeria has improved recently, still three in 10 people lack access to water.
Nigeria is so rich in water resources and reservoirs that some states got their names from rivers.
More importantly, as consumable water is found in nearly every part of the country, there’s also plenty stored in the ground.
Report says Nigeria has 215 cubic metres a year of available surface water, which is a lot higher than in many African countries, particularly those in the southern and northern regions of the continent.
With all this natural blessing, many people who live in countries that do not have reservoirs of water as Nigeria would imagine that Nigerians have plenty of water to drink. But this isn’t the case. In fact, a report suggested that only 19 per cent of Nigeria’s population has access to safe drinking water.
Although, 67 per cent of people have basic water supply, access is uneven. In cities, 82 per cent of people have a basic supply. In rural areas, only 54 per cent do.
The NBS and UNICEF report also says wealth also distorts access. About 80% of wealthy Nigerians have access to at least a basic water supply, in comparison to only 48% of poor Nigerians.
This is not unconnected with the fact that most of the rich houses have boreholes, dug to avoid depending on water boards.
It is indeed very important to understand the reason why the number of water vendors in towns and cities are increasing by the day, is because the population has no option than to patronise them.
For those who do not have the financial wherewithal, they have to rely on the producers of sachet water popularly known as “pure water”. For the rich, it is either bottled water or dispenser.
A question begs for an answer: is this how we will continue, leaving citizens at the mercy of water vendors and sachet water producers who may not care about the hygiene and health implications of their products?
The federal, states and local governments should understand that water is life, hence the need to also provide clean water, which will definitely help in reducing the outbreak of communicable diseases that claim lives of many helpless citizens.
Alhassan A. Bala is based in Abuja