Monday, 4th December 2023

Utsev, Goronyo: A perfect synergy at Water Resources Ministry 

By Ameh Ochojila
22 August 2023   |   3:00 am
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation could not have wished for a better deal in the assignment of portfolios to the new ministers appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. For the ministry, the President has assigned two ministers with varying backgrounds and competences that will ensure perfect synergy between them. The Minister of…

Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation could not have wished for a better deal in the assignment of portfolios to the new ministers appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. For the ministry, the President has assigned two ministers with varying backgrounds and competences that will ensure perfect synergy between them.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Professor Joseph Terlumun Utsev, is a thoroughbred professional with academic qualifications in Civil and Water Engineering and hands-on experience also in water resources engineering and management.

This background has adequately prepared and positioned him to pilot the affairs of the ministry towards the attainment of its core mandate: to develop a framework towards  making the Water sector a pillar for food security, job creation, water supply, sanitation and hydropower as well as mitigate water-induced disasters like erosion and flooding.

On his part, the Minister of State in the ministry, Barrister Bello Muhammad Goronyo, is coming in with diversified competences and experiences in law, administration, politics, community and humanitarian services, amongst others. He is expected to deploy this background to the administration of various activities of the ministry, thus freeing the senior minister, Prof. Utsev to focus on the delivery of water and sanitation services to Nigerians nationwide.

As he assumes office, Prof Utsev will find a 14-year Water Resources Road Map (2016-2030) waiting for him. The document is a blueprint for a well-articulated strategy to deliver a distinctive value chain which would lead to positive impact for continuity over time, knowing that government is a continuum. The new minister, an academic of distinction, will naturally be at home with a working document of this nature: to repeal, adopt or adapt it to suit the realities on ground and his vision for the water sector.

It was Prof. Utsev’s contributions to the development of water resources and environmental engineering that earned him the appointment as the Commissioner of Water Resources and Environment in Benue State in 2017. In that position, he contributed immensely towards tackling the hitherto perenial water scarcity in Makurdi, the state capital, and other communities in the state. His involvement in the design and influence on the construction of the Idye Basin Phase II drainage also showcased his commitment to improving the state’s erosion control infrastructure. Now, as the minister of Water resources, he will definitely rely on this experience to deal with similar problems of flooding and erosion experienced in different parts of the country.

A few months before leaving office, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, the immediate past minister of Water resources, headed a Presidential Steering Committee which developed  a comprehensive plan of action for the prevention of the recurrence of flood disasters in Nigeria. Prof. Utsev will inherit the chairmanship of the Committee from where he would direct the Federal Government’s efforts in ameliorating the twin problems of flooding and erosion.

In the area of water supply, Prof  Utsev will also fit into his new role seamlessly, coming from his earlier position as Water Resources Commissioner. The Federal Government, through his ministry,  is responsible for policy, advisory and formulation, data collection, monitoring and reporting and making special intervention for the water supply needs of the entire country.

Before his ministerial appointment, back in 2020, Prof. Utsev’s expertise had been acknowledged at the national level when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Executive Director of Engineering at the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority (LBRBDA) in Makurdi. There, he played a key role in supervising the construction of various engineering projects, such as dams, bridges, roads, boreholes, and drainages.

For him, therefore, being made Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation is like returning to a familiar terrain, albeit at a higher level, with wider responsibilities. He is now in charge of not only an Engineering Directorate; in charge of not only LBRBDA, but also of all the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) in the country, and more. Prof. Utsev who was awarded the Best Honourable Commissioner in the Water/Environmental sector in Nigeria by Independent Assessors in 2018, can be trusted to rise to the occasion.

Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev hails from Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria. He obtained a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Agriculture (now JOSTUM), Makurdi, graduating as the best student in 2004 with a Second Class Honours ‘Upper Division.’ His passion for knowledge led him to pursue higher education, earning both a Masters and PhD in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering from the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

He has garnered approximately 17 years of experience in lecturing and the engineering field. The new minister has acquired a reputation as an accomplished administrator and highly respected professional who has contributed significantly to the advancement of Civil Engineering practice and research. About 40 of his scholarly papers have been published in national and international journals of great repute.

His career highlights include serving as the Deputy Director and later as a full Director in the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at JOSTUM; his appointment as Commissioner of Water Resources and Environment in Benue State in 2017; and his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020 as the Executive Director, Engineering, at the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, Makurdi.

Until his recent appointment as minister of Water Resources, Prof. Utsev was the pioneer Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Wannune, Benue State.

He is a Registered Civil Engineer certified by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, among others.

Prof. Utsev’s remarkable contributions to society have earned him numerous honours, awards and accolades, including the Best Honourable Commissioner in the Water/Environmental sector in Nigeria by Independent Assessors in 2018 and the Academic Noble Award by the Institute of Industrial Administration of Nigeria.

Prof. Utsev’s rich antecedents will be complementarity by that of the minister of state. Barr  Goronyo’s experience, qualifications, and leadership abilities will play a pivotal role and contribute immensely to the development of Nigeria. With a focus on good governance, inclusive policies, and strategic planning, he is well-positioned to drive positive change and foster economic growth. His dedication to public service, coupled with his legal expertise, will enable him to address critical challenges facing the nation and work through the Water Resources and Sanitation ministry towards a more prosperous and united Nigeria.

As a distinguished politician with a remarkable legacy of public service and leadership, Barr. Goronyo is known for his demand for excellence and dedication to achieving the best outcomes for his people. His wealth of political experience cuts across the three arms of Government – Legislature, Excecutive and Judiciary. He is a complete party man who occupied various party positions from the local Government, State, Zonal and National level.

His leadership style is characterized by fairness, strong determination, and a continuous quest for improvement in the development of Sokoto, his home state. As a visionary leader, he has consistently supported and empowered the youth by providing scholarships for master’s education, enabling them to become more competitive and better equipped to contribute significantly to the progress of the state.

As Minister in President Tinubu’s new government, his experience, qualifications, and passion for transformative development will bring positive changes and advancement to Nigeria as a whole.

Hon. Barr. Goronyo who was born in Sabon Garin Dole in Sokoto State, bagged a diploma in law from College of Arts and Sciences, Sokoto,  in 1990 and an LLB from Uthman Danfodio University, Sokoto, in 1997. Exempted from the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) because of his age, he proceeded to the Nigeria Law School, Bwari, Abuja, and was called to Bar in 2001.

In 2019, he bagged a Masters degree in Energy Security management from the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, and another Masters in Business Management and Leadership from London Graduate School , London UK. Thereafter, Goronyo bagged another Masters of Philosophy in Leadership and Strategic Studies from NDA in 2021 and is presently pursuing his Ph.D in Leadership and Strategic Studies from the same NDA, Kaduna.

Barrister Goronyo had a very meritorious working experience. He worked as Vital Registration Assistant (VRA) with National Population Commission (NPC) from 1991-1992; Legal translator with the Sokoto State House of Assembly from 1992-1993; Principal Orientation Officer (POO) with National Orientation Agency (NOA) from 1993-2001 and took up a lecturing appointment with the State College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Sokoto, from 2001-2006. He practiced law with the Adamu Umar and Co (law chambers) from 2001-2006 and also with Rafi Law Chambers, Sokoto, from 2006-2007.

Barr. Goronyo ventured into politics in 2003 as a member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) as Legal Committee member for the Gubernatorial, National and State Assembly election petition.

He became a caretaker Secretary, Democractic Peoples Party (DPP), Goronyo Local Government Area, in 2006 and 2007; served as Secretary, DPP Congress Planning Committee; Gubernatarial Convention Committee and Assistant State legal Adviser II of the party in Sokoto State.

Barrister Goronyo was elected member Sokoto State House of Assembly to represent Goronyo Constituency from 2007-2015. He became the Interim Organising Secretary of the party in Sokoto State in 2014 and Goronyo Local Government Campaign Coordinator for the 2015 general elections. He was Secretary, APC Legal Committee on election petitions of 2015.

Barr. Goronyo was appointed as Commissioner, Ministry for Solid Minerals & Natural Resources Development, Sokoto State, from 2015-2017; deployed as Commissioner Ministry of Energy Development in 2017-2018; and then further deployed as Commissioner for Information, a position he held from 2018-2019 before he voluntarily resigned. He got elected as Zonal Secretary, APC North West, in 2022 and appointed into the APC campaign council as Director, National Youth Mobilisation of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), North West, in 2023, a position he served with proven results.

The new minister has served in several other capacities, including committees, at the state level and in the Sokoto State House of Assembly (SOHA).

He became Chairman House Committee on Rural Development from 2011-2015 and became Deputy House Leader from 2011-January 2015 and Deputy Speaker SOHA from January 2015- May 2015.

Barrister Goronyo who belongs to several clubs and associations has won for himself several National and International Awards/Certificates which include Youth Ambassador for Peace, Arewa Patriotic Vanguard, Special Legislature Award, amongst others.