By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
The House of Representatives Committee on Rural Development on Thursday advocated for public-private partnership arrangement to revive the abandoned hydro power plant, located at the Oyan Dam in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The committee, led by its chairman, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu during their visit to the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA) also called for increased funding of agriculture towards actualising Nigeria’s quest for economic diversification.
The Committee’s visit was part of its oversight functions.
The Oyan Dam, operated by OORBDA with potential for irrigation and power generation, had a hydro power component with an installed capacity to generate nine megawatts of electricity.
However, the project was abandoned since 1983 when it was commissioned by the ex-President Shehu Shagari government.
Speaking yesterday during the committee’s assessment tour of the Authority’s headquarters at Alabata, Abeokuta, Adebutu decried the neglect of critical public infrastructure in the country.
He said the Federal Government ought to have allowed the private sector to drive the project “rather than under-utilising it without justification”.
He said, “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.”
Adebutu, who was accompanied by five other federal lawmakers, urged the Federal Government to harness water resources in the country through different water basin development authorities to boost agriculture.
“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 noted.
He advocated more funding of the agriculture and rural development sectors to alleviate poverty in the country.
Adebutu said, “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.”
In his remarks, the OORBDA Managing Director, Mr Olufemi Odumosu, appealed for adequate budgetary provisions for the parastatal to be able to attain its objectives and pledged to cooperate with the committee and others in the task of moving the river basin development authority forward.