June 30, 2006/ thisday
Head of delegation of the European Commission to Nigeria, Leonidas Tezapsidis, says Nigeria is ranked the third country with the highest number of poor people in the world.
Tezapsidis stated this at a workshop for Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSR) and Support to Reforming Institution Programme (SRIP) in Abuja yesterday.
Represented by Mostato Waker Risorrch, the EU boss said China and India were the only countries ahead of Nigeria. ``Doesn\'t Nigeria have enough oil to take care of its citizens? No, Nigeria is not rich,\'\' he argued.
He said oil alone could not eradicate poverty in Nigeria considering the proportion of poor people in the country.
``Nigeria may rival countries like Kuwait in oil and gas reserve but there are 50 times more Nigerians than Kuwaitis,\'\' Tezapsidis argued.
According to him, if every Nigerian was to receive an equal share of the current high oil revenue, poverty would still not be over.
The EU boss said the only way to eliminate poverty in Nigeria was to make wise use of the limited resources available in the country.
``Investment in sanitation and water facilities can indeed be a very worthwhile undertaking,\'\' he said.
Lezapsidis said recent studies had shown that an investment of N150 in this sector can yield a return of as much as N2,700.
He said although it was hard to put a price on health, well-being and comfort, yet an investment in better water supply could pay off many times over.
Lezapsidis said the European Community water funding programme would improve water delivery to more than 2 million Nigerians if the services were carefully planned and maintained.
Earlier, the Water Resources Minister, Mukhtari Shagari, represented by the Minister of State in the ministry, Mrs. Salome Jakoda, described the EU funding as a welcome development to the Nigerian water sector.
``The commencement of this programme marks the success of the water supply and sanitation sector programme introduced by this administration,\'\' he said.
NAN reports that more than 119 million euro was budgeted for the EU water programme for a period of two years.