Bayelsa State governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, has expressed optimism that all communities in the State would get access to water in the next three years.
He also defended the appointment of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in his government, saying after elections, there was need for people to forget their political differences and move the State foreward.
Dickson spoke on Friday during an interactive session with Senior Editors and Abuja Bureau Chiefs of major print, online and electronic media, after signing an agreement with World Bank, European Union, United Nations Childrens Fund and other technical partners for the provision of water for 200 communities in Bayelsa State.
He said, “In Bayelsa State, there is water, water everywhere but none to drink. We rarely have water to drink and some of the water are in salt water area. We need to desalinate it. So, out of a number of communities that really have that challenge, government selected some land locked communities to provide water and we have done that already.
“Our partners have selected 200 communities in Bayelsa State, principally in two Local Government Areas to provide a lot of things. We appreciate our partners, World Bank, EU and UNICEF who are contributing about N700 million and the State government is putting N422 million. In other words, we are actually bearing the cost of about 35 per cent of the project. But the key issue is not what they are providing, I am more interested in their technical expertise that they are bringing to the table. But I have told them that they need to expand it because I want more communities to benefit
“The provision of portable water for people is our priority. I want to ensure that every community in Bayesla State have water in the next three years. We will look for the resources and work with them. We will also tap on their expertise. I told them that I will be willing if they can create another counterpart funding for even this year.”
While acknowledging the fact that States are finding it difficult to meet the contributions, the governor said that Bayelsa State would “be willing to look for money to start another one so that again a minimum of 200 or 250 more communities again can benefit.”
“I want to ensure that within the next three years, every community, no matter how small, should have access to some safe drinking water because sometimes the situation they manage is very bad.
“The people drink water from stagnant pools and get infected. We have cases of perennial cholera and drainages with pollution along water ways. There are a lot of things going on and that is why we are very committed to that and we appreciate the partnership”, he emphasised.
Dickson called on community leaders to work with the contractors and protect these facilities by putting it on good use.
While defending the appointment of APC members in his government, Dickson said after the governorship election, he made a statement that his hands were open for collaboration.
He said, “I have APC members appointed into my government, I don’t know of any Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member appointed in the Federal Government. I have several APC members in the government of Bayelsa state in one form or the other because after elections, we should be talking about the State.
“I won Timipre Sylva, I am asking Sylva my friend and former governor of Bayelsa State to join us and move the State forward. He knows what it means to be a governor of that State; he knows the challenges particularly, the economic challenges that we have. For me, I was elected to serve the people; so I am open for partnership, I want him to work with us, and with his support, we can move our State forward.”