From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The House of Representatives Committee on Rural Development, on Thursday, called for the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement to revive the moribund hydro power plant at the Oyan Dam in Abeokuta, Ogun State, for maximum utilization.
The committee led by its chairman, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, which equally called for increased funding of agriculture in the country, made these calls during the committee’s visit to the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA).
The Oyan Dam, which was inaugurated in 1983 by Alhaji Sheu Shagari’s administration with potential for irrigation and power generation, had a hydro power component with an installed capacity to generate nine megawatts of electricity, was abandoned shortly after.
But speaking with newsmen during the committee’s assessment tour of the Authority’s headquarters at Alabata, Abeokuta, the committee chairman, accompanied by five other members, decried the neglect of critical public infrastructure in the country.
According to him, the Federal Government ought to have allowed the private sector to drive the project rather than under-utilising it without justification.
“When you allow the private sector to unleash its strength and take hold, a lot of pressure will be taken off the government because you find out that government should not be in the business of doing business.
“I personally support that instead of just leaving this facility under-utilised, we should find a way to allow the private sector to take charge.” The lawmaker stated.
Adebutu urged the Federal Government to harness water resources in the country through different water basin development authorities to boost agriculture.
He said: “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”.
He, therefore, advocated more funding of the agriculture and rural development sectors to alleviate poverty in the country noting “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 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”.
Earlier in his remarks, Managing Director of OORBDA, Mr. Olufemi Odumosu, appealed for adequate budgetary provisions for the agency to be able to attain its objectives.