Emmanuel Adanu: We have refocused the National Institute of Water Resources


Professor Emmanuel Adanu is the Director General of the National Institute of Water Resources, Kaduna. Adanu, a former international footballer, who is serving a second term, talks with Stanley Nkwazema about the institute’s activities and support from the water resources ministry, among others.

How would you rate the performance of the National Water Resources Institute under your leadership?

I have been there since May 2015. At the end of my first term, the President, on the recommendation of the Minister of Water Resources, Ing. Sulaiman Adamu, graciously renewed him for another five-year term, which technically ends in 2025, God willing. Before going there, I knew the institute very well because it is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and I had been in the Ministry of Water Resources.

The institute started as a project office in 1979 and in 1985, by law, it was transformed into an institute by the then military government to provide training for middle management and resource managers. in water and also to carry out research on all aspects of water resources. management and advising the government on priorities with other functions such as conferences, the publication of both local and international reports and many other functions relating to water resources. When I went there, I noticed that these aspects of the mandate given to them were not properly highlighted. We have collaborations with certain universities. We award diplomas on behalf of Nigeria Defense Academy (NDA) Kaduna in Integrated Water Resources Management, approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC). The institute developed the curriculum. We also have a network program under the aegis of the World Bank. We have six universities in the six geopolitical zones and they offer beyond the first and second institute sponsored water resources degrees.

What has been your experience in the water and dams sector in Nigeria in terms of prioritization of projects?

Basically I’ll talk about development and meeting different needs and I have to tell you that Nigeria has smaller dams. People may say we have too many, but we are still lagging behind in terms of dams. I can tell you that we have about 400 dams in the country according to the last inventory of dams that we carried out. The United States of America has approximately 8,000 or more dams. You can imagine that we still do not have enough dams, because of the water needs per capita. In this case, one could say that we do not have enough dams, and wherever you are installing dams now, we have not yet reached the required number. This explains to you the questions of whether the projects are politically motivated.

In our development, there is this feeling that the southern part of the country has a lot of water and that they don’t need dams, and the northern part, which is bigger, should have more dams. Thus, dams are cited where such requirements are expected. We have dams in the north for agricultural purposes because of a certain level of drought. The condition for the construction of dams, that is, the natural environment for it, is more in the middle belt and the north than in the south. There are larger dams in the north and center of the country, hence the location.

Over time we need dams in small, sustainable environments, especially in the South where you will find small retention areas. The rains are perennial and if you put a dam there it will serve the purpose very well and we have considered it by installing some dams in the south. The dams are not that big because you have to take into account the rise in level and the problem of flooding. If you take a holistic look at the location of dams, you will find that we are far from having dams. There are also the misinterpreted challenges in the ministry that sometimes we intend to provide the facilities on a master plan and the cross-sectoral demand of people or society. As a professional you know there is a need but funding is a problem because dams are very expensive. It is a challenge, but it is not that the government is not aware of the importance of dams, rather there is a competing intersectoral demand for the same money.

When did you join the Ministry of Water Resources?

Yes, that’s when I started to feel a little uncomfortable with what was going on at the University at the time. I was an internationally trained water specialist. There was an announcement from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in 1991. I just decided to give it a shot and I was taken. I started there as head of planning. During this period, I grew up in the ministry, I had a little break during the regime of General Sani Abacha. I was appointed Senior Private Secretary to the Governor of Benue State, Colonel Aminu Isah Kontagora, who recently passed away. When there was a minor reshuffle by Abacha, he was transferred to Kano and replaced by Brigadier General Dominic Oneya, who incidentally also recently passed away. I always stayed like his PPS. After the 1999 election, we handed over and I returned to the ministry where I grew up to become director of dams and retired in 2014.

Are you satisfied with the attention the government has given to the Water Resources Institute?

I am satisfied with the attention we are receiving from the government. I went there just as the administration of former President Jonathan was winding down. We had no problem with this administration, to be honest with you. Incidentally, the institute hosts the United Nations Center for Integrated Category 2 River Basin Management, which is under the auspices of UNESCO and we cover West African countries. We organize programs throughout the West African sub-region. We currently have a lot of research going on and I’m even building the head office.

How did you grow up?

I come from a family that is very poor in resources but not poor in ideas. We are agrarian farmers but a very respectable family and very disciplined parents. We grew up with discipline and responsibility. I never regretted having them as parents because the ideas they had were so productive that we didn’t need the money. Sorry to tell you, we’ve been trained to never borrow. That was basically what motivated us and I think that’s how I trained my four children; three girls and a boy. Two of the girls are married. My son is not married. I am a grandfather of five children. My wife is a retired nurse and public administrator.

We hear that you played for the Nigeria national team. How did you combine football with academics?

Before moving to Germany and playing for the ABU Workers Football Club, in high school, I was in football. In the Northeast and all of the North, they know me as a great footballer. I was invited to the national team three times in 1976 and made the final list twice as a striker. I was invited to the NUGA games in Ibadan at the same time as Adokiye Amiesimaka. I was invited again in 1979 during the Oluyole 79 Festival and in 1981. However, when I went to Germany, by the way, I played for the second division called Landelsliga with a team called Blauweis 90, founded in 1890 in Berlin. After two years, I moved to play for Tennis Borussia a semi-professional team. It was easier to play there than here because all the facilities are available.

Tell us the story of the footballer who turned to a hydrogeologist?

I come from a small village of Odigbo, in the local government area of ​​Apa, Benue State. I am Idoma by tribe. I did my high school education in Numan, present-day Adamawa State between 1967 and 1971. From there I went to Maiduguri Government Secondary School for my Graduate Certificate (HSC). I went to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and graduated in 1977. Specializing in geology, which was not my original field, I wanted to study engineering. After my NYSC in Ondo State, I returned to the Geology Department at ABU as a Graduate Assistant. After my master’s degree, I had to go to Germany for my doctorate. at the Technische Universitat in Berlin, where I specialized in hydrogeology. I returned to Ahmadu Bello University, because I was under the sponsorship of the university, and continued my career as a lecturer.

Looking back on your career, are you satisfied?

I think I got what I wanted. In terms of experience, luckily I have been through a lot. It is a process, societal processes, professional processes and political processes. Not intentional anyway. When I was senior private secretary, I was like number two in the state because there was no vice-governor. I report to the governor and I’m only accountable to him, which is the political aspect I’m talking about. In the ministry, I became director, starting with Alhaji Hashidu and six others, until the current minister, Sulaiman Adamu who is the district chief and Galadiman of Kazaure.

What legacies would you like to leave to the National Institute of Water Resources?

I would like to leave the place as a leading training and research institution comparable to anyone anywhere in the world and we are working towards this. Fortunately, I have a contingent of staff who I think are ready to work and I need to motivate them. Another thing I do is make sure that any mistake made by any of your employees is accepted as a general mistake. We work and see how we can become better. We don’t like to blame anyone because we are all learning. When mistakes are made, we look at the mistakes; are trying to correct and we are working collectively to avoid such errors by anyone.

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