How To Restructure Nigeria By Ambassador Igali


Dr. Godknows Boladei Igali is a retired public servant, diplomat, author and scholar. He served as ambassador to the Scandinavian countries – Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway. He also served as Federal Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Water Resources and power. In this interview with Horatius Egua, Publisher, The Bridge News, Dr Igali spoke on how best Nigeria can be restructured.

We are presently facing a very challenging time in Nigeria. As a key member of PANDEF, are you not worried that various socio political groups in Nigeria are seen toothless bulldogs?

I want to fundamentally disagree with you and I take exception to any thought that will come from anywhere suggesting that there are gratification given to anybody. I don’t think the government is giving gratification to anybody and I don’t think anybody is receiving gratification from the government. Let me start on that note to disabuse any suggestion to that. Now, on the issue of the grave situation the country finds itself, I am a multi-disciplinary scholar, historian, political scientist and an international law expert, so I look at things from a very wide perspective. You can understand the broadness of my specialization from my award-winning book, ‘Perspective on Nation/State Formation: An Inquiry into the Origin, Survival and Tenets of Nations’. I have spent all my life studying why some nation’s survive and others collapse.
The common denominator is that no country at any given time is in a total state of peace. Every country at any given time is struggling. And, sometimes, if you turn on the television you would think that the whole world is on fire because you see riots even in places where there should be relative peace; even in places where their gross national product is high people are demonstrating. What you consider as a given normal here, in a place like Sweden or the Scandinavian countries is totally unacceptable. Every country has issues but some are more than others. There are even countries we never thought these could happen, like what happened on 6th of January in America. I don’t think there are few countries in the last century that experienced where a riotous mob invaded their parliament in the manner they did, even saying the Speaker should be killed, using four letter words on her. So, we thought this was impossible to happen in America with 245 years of democracy. So, no country is in total peace there are always challenges.
Coming to the role of socio-cultural groups. When they speak, their duty is affirmative; their duty is advocacy; their duty is to keep speaking to the conscience of the country and what they think is not correct. Mind you, when the American nation started, women could not vote until about the 1920s. It took over 200 years to keep talking. There are many issues in other countries where people have to keep talking. The bodies don’t have abilities to enforce what they do and they can’t do things outside of the law. They don’t have to tell people go to the streets and start killing people. They have to keep pressing for what they believe is right. So, whether it is Northern Elders Forum, whether it is Arewa or it is Afenifere or it is PANDEF, Ohaneze or Middlebelt Forum, these are bodies that exist rightly and legitimately to protect the interest of their people. When they talk nobody settles them. It is like you fight and live to fight again. They raise one issue and they’ll keep raising issues. Like Martin Luther King Jr said, governance does not end; you have to keep making an effort. That is why when Martin Luther started, he did not stop, people died but they kept talking. He himself lost his life, and even President Kennedy that was most liberate was even shot. You keep advocating until the right things is done. For a complex, multi-ethnic heterogenous group like Nigeria, various people have to keep on talking until we agree.

What is the position on PANDEF on the current state of kidnapping, banditry, killing and generally acts of terrorism? What are the thoughts that run through the minds of the leadership of this organisation?

PANDEF as an organization has continuously expressed itself on what it thinks the country should do to solve it’s problems. And the problems are not only one. You’ve spoken only on security but there are other issues. If you talk about insecurity, PANDEF has always talked either through a press statement by the national spokesman or by the leader, Edwin Clark. We’ve always made ourselves known that the federal government should redouble it’s steps to stem the tide of insecurity. One of the fundamental duties of government is the security of its people. The federal government should do all that it takes to restore normalcy in parts of the country where there is problem. PANDEF also, believes that solving of the security problem dovetails to the issue of restructuring. We think that when you restructure this country – and restructuring has different meanings – the perennial issues would be tackled. Some people think restructuring is an anathema, and they don’t want to hear about it.
Restructuring is just a word and what it means is that the constitution of this country has deviated fundamentally from what the founding fathers agreed. The founding fathers agreed on a constitutional order. Many Nigerians do not know that we have always tinkered with our constitution; tinkering sometimes fundamentally, starting from the 1914 constitution-Lugard constitution. Then, the 1922 Clifford constitution, then the 1946 Richards constitution. After 1946, they saw that Nigeria is a tripod embedded in between minorities. If you count the minorities they’ve even become bigger than the tripod. The minorities because they are sandwiched between these three could not be a region. But then Nigerian leaders at that time felt the Arthur Richards constitution was not far reaching, so the white men said you people come and tell us what you want. First, it was the colonial masters writing a constitution for us. They had the Ibadan conference 1950, 1951, and at the Ibadan conference, for the first time, every group was represented. They sat down and debated on the future of the country they wanted; after that came the McPherson constitution. The McPherson constitution saw that there is a broad outline for federalism, the best way for us to live together. And at those fora, the Nigerian leaders made themselves very clear: we want to be one but we are different people. So, this is the old story of restructuring. They now say ‘ok, let us each live together and not choke each other too much, Let’s give each other some space’. They agreed on federalism, which means that the power of the federal government should be very restrictive; that the regions should have more autonomy, more powers, they would be able to determine a lot of things and grow. It’s like people running a relay, everybody on his track helping each other, and move together. The healthy one can help in certain areas. From the very beginning, the North was not disadvantaged. The people of the North were forward in agriculture; they produced cotton, they produced groundnuts, there were pyramids. The West was not disadvantaged; the West was producing cocoa, rubber. The East was slightly disadvantage, as palm oil and palm kernel were not selling in the global market because synthetic products were coming out. This was McPherson, they (our founding fathers) were still not happy.
They met the white men. So you don’t like McPherson all of you come and go to London. So, they took our forefathers to London, Zik, Awo, Tafawa Balewa. The colonial secretary then was Lyttleton, and they came up with the Lyttleton constitution. The Lyttleton constitution now stated clearly federalism, devolution of power and so on. The connection of insecurity to restructuring is to the extent that under that system, the regions had a level of control; there was a federal police. The regional governments had a strong hand in security, in controlling law and order in their regions. Now we have a centralized system where the Inspector General of Police controls up to the police constable in a fishing pot, somewhere deep in Rivers State or one of these hilly places in Adamawa or Taraba State, at the border with Cameron. Or at the extreme end, at the border with Benin Republic where the man, sometimes for him to take car will take him one or two days. In connection to security, if there can be more control by the federating units of security, then you know the local situation. If something happens today then you say, come, who did this thing then the person will resolve to come but it’s nobody’s business, and the police man takes orders from above.
This is the basis in which a constitution was agreed. The 1960 constitution was promulgated, the 1963 constitution does not change from 196. The only difference was that a new region was created with some little changes. Fundamentally, there was the agreement. I heard what Buba Galadima said at a recent event, that the 1960 constitution did not provide for fiscal federalism. Perhaps, he needs to go and read section 140. It is very clear that what a region produces it keeps 50%, then it takes 30% to the distribution pool for all to share, then 20% goes to the federal government. That shows the power of the federal government was limited to very few things and that is why the North had an agent in London besides the Nigerian High Commission. There were four other offices. The office of the agent of the North, the office of the agent of the East, the office of the agent of the South. All of them had their offices, like sub-ambassadors, and all these regions had their constitution. So any student, for example, say in Benue will have to study the constitution of Northern Nigeria. It was healthy and our fathers did that so we can all grow together. That was just one tiny aspect. And like I said, I challenge my friends, especially those against a review of the constitution. Are they wiser than the Sardauna of Sokoto, Tafawa Balewa, Awolowo or Zik? This is the fundamental rubrics on which the forefathers founded this country. Why would a great man like Sardauna, who would have started ruling Nigeria, say I am not interested, my focus is on the North. Let me bring the North at par with other regions; let me develop the North. Awolowo was not interested in the federal house to become prime minister or opposition leader. It was only much later he decided to come to Lagos. He was in nearby Ibadan, he focused on the West because the center was not made like a big deal.
The centre was a coordinator, to deal with national issues, defense, security, external aggression, currency, foreign policy. When the military struck in 1966, they just pushed away all this work that took 30 years, from 1950 up to the promulgation of the 1960. Ten years work was pushed aside and eight people in the Supreme Military Council said ‘from now we are ruling by decree,’ and by the time we came back to constitutional democracy in 1979, we did not come back to say, ‘let’s bring back what our fathers did’. Our leaders at that time said ‘this military people we don’t want to give them an excuse not to leave, anything they give us let’s accept’. They accepted, but that did not stop the military from striking again. And they came again and stayed long, and by 1999, I don’t want to blame our leaders, they were kind of fatigued. Twenty years after, nobody is doing anything about bringing back what our fathers agreed. That is the whole story about restructuring. We know we cannot go back to 1963. There are now 36 states.
Recently, the governor of Zamfara State equated banditry in the State with the situation in the Niger Delta, and called for amnesty for bandits. Do you think there is any parallel?
Maybe he was quoted out of context because he’s a very pragmatic and scholarly person, but it is a travesty to compare Niger Delta and criminality. In Niger Delta, people were advocating for the fact that ‘you were taking the resources away from our land and there is no serious impact on ground, therefore, we are going to stop you from taking this thing out until you discussed with us how we can feel the impact. We don’t have jobs in the oil industry, our boys are not employed in the oil industry.’ They said ‘look, you must take some of us even as cleaners, or gatemen.’ My community, Okporoma, where I was born, the day the boys struck and took oil workers hostage I was sent to go and negotiate. And when I went they said ‘uncle, remove your face from this place. Uncle are you happy none of us is working here? Look at the gateman standing there; he is not from the region, he is not from this state.’ I saw where the workers were kept, they kept the girls separate- some girls serving them, the stewards-none of them was from Bayelsa State. So they took me there and say ask them, and truly none of them was from that part of the country. The oil companies come, take the oil and do their businesses and no one has presence in the Niger Delta. They don’t even have operational office. It was after all these things that all of them went and put signboards at some places.
The report by UNEP and others say the Niger Delta is the most polluted place in the world. UNEP report of 2011 is clear, in terms of gas flaring, in terms of oil spillages. When we were small as children you see birds everywhere because it’s a Delta. Delta has a wide biodiversity and ecosystem, but now you don’t see any bird flying because of gas flaring. People cannot farm, there is big water, you cannot drink the water; you can’t fish because on top of the water there is a film of oil, so oxidization does not take place, therefore, the fishes ran away. So the people took up resistance and said ‘look, you will not take this oil until you talk with us.’ Did they kill one person? Did they attack one village? Did they go to one school and carry children and say you are not going to school again? Did they carry some people’s daughters away for years? Did they kill one person? Yes, of course, they detained some expatriate workers, and most times they will go and talk. At some point, criminality came, and these same boys were the people that went after the criminals that were kidnapping. There were no case that they went and killed people.
I don’t think Matawalle really meant what was reported, and no serious-minded person should say that. It got to a point where the economy of the country was hurting because what they [Niger Delta boys] did was to sabotage and stop the oil industries from continuing in that reckless way. Then President Yar’adua intervened. Actually, it started from Obasanjo. I was adviser to Obasanjo on Niger Delta, and I was inherited by Yar’adua. We started talking about amnesty for the Niger Delta, let’s beg this boys because by law, if you take up arms against the government and your weapon is not licensed it’s a crime. They were not given amnesty for killing people. Do they want us to clap for them for killing people? They were given amnesty because they had borne arms against the State which in itself was not right, no matter how justified your grievance is. Everybody came to agree that ‘we’ve not treated you fairly, we’ve not been kind to you, so stop what you are doing and we’ll not take you before any court of law.’ And those boys said they will not accept amnesty.
I was in the vanguard, I proposed the whole idea of amnesty. That was why many of them did not accept it until the last day. We cannot equate them with bandits; there are two different scenarios. I’m not against people talking to the bandits; I take a different view. I believe anybody that is aggrieved we need to hear him out. What Sheikh Gumi is doing is not a new thing. At the height of the crisis in Niger Delta some of us had to risk our lives to go and beg them to stop what they were doing. And when Jonathan lost election, a group called The Avengers emerged, but some of us came out again to plead with them. Gumi is not reinventing the wheel. The area where I disagree with him is that they are ready to drop their arms and we come and treat them with kid gloves and put garlands on their neck. Oil production is about 2.3million and 2.4 million barrels per day. On a bad day it’s about 2.2 millio. But the East West road is not completed; schools are not there, hospitals are not there, we had to beg them again that things will be done gradually. At that point production had come down to 800 thousand barrels per day, which meant the national economy was going to collapse. That was when we said what we should try to do is to mop up this young people, and go about retraining their minds and see how they can be occupied so that this infrastructure that is sustaining the economy of this country can be kept.

What manner of restructuring are you canvassing for?
I think there was a 2014 conference where things were discussed. The APC government (this government) formed the El-Rufai committee. The committee came out with far-reaching recommendations. Like I said, we cannot reinvent the wheel. Some people say ‘bring every ethnic nationality to one room.’ It’s going to be quite difficult to do that. Some people think that the National Assembly should be disbanded and we should form some kind of new body. You can’t do that. The thing to be done, to my mind, and that is what we have said severally, the 2014 conference is a document that was done by a government. We have also the El-Rufai document, which the government set up. We can find a way to have an amalgam of the common position and see areas that can be improved upon. This can be sent to the National Assembly for legislation because this a meeting of the minds of people of the country. That is always my recommendation. I think the process of going through a plebiscite is a major process which will be difficult to accomplish before 2023. We have to look at the low hanging fruits. A low hanging fruit, which means, the best brains have already agreed and the APC government set up a report and we need to look at it, which one is an improvement on the other one. State building is not an end in itself; it is a continuous process. We will do our part and the next one thousand years young Nigerians will keep building the country. We want a strong country, a united country where equity and justice reigns. We don’t want a case where you go to an office and only one language is spoken. We don’t want a case where a child who comes out of school is denied access to employment because of where he comes from. We want a Nigeria where everybody will be treated equally, irrespective of which part of the country they come from.
From your studies, is there any country where you had this magnitude of insecurity? How did they tackle them, because the feeling here now is that we’ve been subdued?
No! The Nigerian security situation is very serious and anybody who tries to make it appear as if those who says ‘serious’ are trouble makers, is not facing the reality. It’s serious! The government is making a determined effort to fight it, but there is always room for improvement and to learn. And that is why I like your question, what we can actually learn from other countries? The starting point of solving insecurity is the will to solve it. The government, by making all it’s effort, has to continue to sustain that will to fight insecurity. That will must be there at the highest level, that will must be there at the level of the elite. You see, L’m happy! I’ve had a debate with some of my friends from the North before and I told them that I put my life on the line to solve insecurity in the Niger Delta. Not only me, but with many of our leaders. I led a group of 24 former generals, senior security people and a few other people to go camp by camp. It was a committee that President Obasanjo approved through the Bayelsa State government and we brought our people from other states. Insecurity in the Niger Delta was slightly an Ijaw problem. So, we had to get our people from different states under the Bayelsa State government, which is like headquarters of the Ijaw people. It was nothing clandestine; we even had security people following us and we sat down with these people.
The solution to the current insecurity must also cascade down to leadership at the various levels. There should be no hiding place for insecurity. Leaders should know that it’s a Frankenstein monster. If you allow insecurity, the people turn themselves against you. There was a time some people were cheerleaders trying to encourage insecurity against President Jonathan, against then NSA Azazi as if it was their own personal problem. It is a Frankenstein monster because if you allow insecurity around you it will come back to consume you. By the time there is fire from up and they cannot go outside that zone they will turn it on yourselves. We saw it in other countries. And I think after the federal level, at regional level, at state level at the level of the ethnic nationalities whether it’s the Yorubas, whether it’s the Fulanis, Ibos or any of the groups in the Niger Delta, the leaders should tackle it. They should join to fight insecurity because if you leave it, it will come back to consume you. That’s the experience in most country. That’s why it’s better to tackle it before it gets out of hand.
So now, there is an aspect that we may not know: citizens have a role to play. I know citizens in Nigeria believe we are impoverished; there is nothing we can do. There is a lot we can do. If you see it say something. I tell people all the time. They say, ‘let the federal government take responsibility.’ Agreed, but if something is happening in your village, which can cause insecurity, you must expose it. I will give you and example. Young men from your village begin to form a camp – these kidnapping groups begin with camps – they are bringing bad boys from other places to form a camp near your village. Like Gumi said they come to the market with their guns and buy things and go back. The villagers said come and buy your things but not with these guns, we are scared of this guns. That is how you nip it. But people are afraid. They say, ‘if I go to say something they will come and kill me because they will say I went to report them.’ We must have a way that people are able to respond to fix things.
Again, when you come to the level of government responsibility, it’s the issue of providing the wherewithal for the fighting forces. We need to recruit more people into the military, we need to provide incentives for them; we need to train them well and give them incentives for them to go and fight. How many are these insurgents? Are they one million? We need to recruit young men and women since we are almost like in a state of war. Provide good kits for them. The first law of life is to be secured so you can live in peace. Kit them well, send them out. The other day I watched Army recruits in Kano. The former CAS Buratai told them ‘from here you are all going to Sambissa’, they were all jubilating. I sit here in my office and every day I get like five to ten messages telling me ‘help me enter the army, help me enter the Navy, help me enter the Air Force’. Young men, young women that want to serve the country, give them the chance to serve and keep the rest of the country secured. We need to recruit more, train them, kit them.
I keep insisting on kitting them because why America has succeeded and reduced fatality rate is because they are well kitted. Some of them have wounds but they are able to live life after that time because of the way they are kitted. In desert situations, in very cold situations, there are kits for all these things. Kit our boys well and send them out to go and fight so we can flush out these people out of our country, whichever part of the country, whether it’s sea piracy or people that have taken over our forest in whichever way.
The last thing I would like to say is the issue of intelligence. I had a discussion with a friend from one of the Arab countries. As young diplomats we did a couple of courses together. Later in life we now met again in Pakistan where we did another course together. We were talking about three years ago and he said ‘look, my country has a terrible security problem, but one thing we put our money in is intelligence gathering. There is nothing the insurgents communicate that we don’t intercept’. We have security men here who are putting their lives on the line. I believe that we can be able to get some help. I served in Colombia and I was in Pakistan. These are very tough places and these countries have even more serious problems than we have, because some are sectarian. In Colombia you can’t even explain. It’s included with drugs and they’ve been fighting for the past 30-40 years but the collateral effect on citizens is not much. It’s mostly with the army. I think that we can wipe out insecurity if we combine a few of these in addition with what is already being done.

When you go to the Niger Delta, you don’t seem to see the impact of the clean-up to tackle the massive environmental pollution in that area?
Ogoni clean up is something that I don’t have much information about. In the past one or two years I have not really followed much. I understand that some money has been appropriated and the contractors are doing some work. What I can say generally is that there is a big challenge about environmental remediation in the Niger Delta. What the UNEP said is that Ogoni is a microcosm, the Ogoni is like a little drop in the whole of the Niger Delta. The Niger Delta, UNEP report said, is the most polluted environment in the whole world. So, government has to look inwards into what that report said. We must also have stronger regulation on further contamination of the environment, contamination from the oil companies. Recently, there was an explosion of underwater pipeline and the oil company said, ‘maybe it’s sabotage’, but it has turned out to be that the pipes were old. These pipes were laid 30-40 years ago; the company has not changed them. Agreed there are some elements of sabotage; agreed that some people doing bunkering can touch the pipes. But there is also a large amount of old pipes that are all over the place and we need to check some of those things.
There is another sad one that is a concern to us. Recently, law enforcement agencies tracked people who are doing bunkering. When they seized what the people were refining, they puncture the tanks and pour it into the rivers. And it is environmental terrorism to do that. You take raw crude, you puncture it and pour it into the river, which is the source of drinking water, the source of livelihood. I think the security authorities, particularly the Army, the Navy and the JTF, who control these people should stop them. You can’t pollute the environment that is already in a very bad state. There are better ways of doing it. Or they go to where they are doing what they call poh-fire. Poh-fire is where they refine crude. And that is a paradox; we don’t have petrol in the country but these uneducated boys are refining crude and selling it in our filling stations, including in some NNPC stations. When security operatives catch them, they set the place in fire. If they are doing it in a place like Kubwa (a part of Abuja), from here you can see the fume, thick, black going into the heavens. Those are things that people should not do at all because they are further polluting the environment.
It has been from one controversy to the other for the NDDC. How is PANDEF trying to come in to ensure that the region does not shortchange itself?
PANDEF does not have the power to appoint a management for NDDC; it is the prerogative of the executive to appoint the governing board; it’s the prerogative of Mr President to appoint the management board, the MD, executive director finance and admin, executive director projects, the rest are civil servants who work there. And it is the prerogative of the Senate to clear them. For some time, we’ve not heard a full-time management or a board. PANDEF’s position is that as early as possible there should be a properly constituted management of the body. The ad-hoc arrangements are not the best because when there is a board, it will check the activities of the executive. The management will now have people to report to. Right now, a forensic audit is being done and we hope that it will be completed in time so that management can be properly appointed.

How is the amnesty programme faring and what can be done to further give impetus to it?

One thing the amnesty programme has done is to stabilize oil production. The boys who were involved in the militancy were mopped up and given some form of inclusion by way of training and by way of capacity building. Some were trained as welders and various vocations. So that propensity to go and disrupt oil production has reduced. I cannot say eliminated because there is still a high level of not meeting up the target as originally proclaimed. What it has done is that oil production has stabilised. The country has been smiling to the bank with over 2 million barrels of oil production as against 700,000, which should have set us back in a major recession. That has helped the country but there are still some areas to follow up because as you know, a lot of the boys did not accept amnesty because they were saying amnesty implies we did something wrong. Although, the language is quite clear that there was a protest because they were excluded, there is no imputation of criminality. But the amnesty has other aspects. There was the the aspect of environmental remediation. There is the first aspect of DDR, that’s what they’ve focused on so far-Demobilization and Rehabilitation. There was the aspect of infrastructure development, particularly the East-West road and a few other major infrastructure. These have not been done. They remain a source of problem. The third aspect is environmental remediation. You asked about Ogoni. Ogoni is the starting point. There is need to cascade down, spread the Ogoni type of experience to cover the area because most of these boys can still not go back to farm; they cannot go back to fish, and there is the tendency for another generation of people who are resisting, who are-as we call them-freedom fighters-who are not happy coming up. So, I think that the programme has to look into these areas for sustainable peace in the area.
On a final note sir, what have you to say to this government so that Nigeria can occupy it’s position in the comity of nations?
What I would say is that governance dictates openness. Openness does not mean weakness. Openness is listening to what the citizens are saying; continuously improving on what has been done. I tell my friends in government, and when some of us have the chance to serve in different capacities, we realised that you cannot know it all. There are people that will come with new ideas. New ideas do not always mean that people are against you; the people are only concerned about situations. I tell my friends that are directly involved in government that ‘let us be open to new ideas; let us see in each of those ideas what are the good things we can take out of them.’ Nigeria is not a weak country, but there are very serious situations in the country because of lack of restructuring, which is like a boiling pot. It’s getting hotter by the day because people are advocating, so, there is the need to listen to people. Various strategies have been adopted: our Chief of Staff went round, he has heard people, I understand NSA is going round again. I’m sure people are suggesting different ways of going about it. We started this conversation with how do you go about restructuring we have to look at all those options because a stitch in time saves nine. You are able to solve problems. It’s not good to always address problems when problems arise, it is always better to anticipate the problem and solve the problems. And I think like they say, if every child is pointing at somewhere, look at that place. When you are out of government you don’t know the deep problems government has to contend with in taking decisions. But one thing you can do is to point to where the problem is. When you see a little baby pointing somewhere it means there is something there to be addressed. And I think there is enough people in the country pointing somewhere saying this constitution is not working; it’s too expensive to run this kind of system. We need to reduce the cost of governance, we need to reduce items on the exclusive list and increase the concurrent list. We need to make the states accountable. Right now states are doing nothing; local governments don’t even exist in most parts of the country. There must be more roles for citizens’ action. Everyday people come to me for employment and I say ‘I’m a retired man; I’m out of government, go to your National Assembly members; go to your House of Assembly members. They don’t even have access to them. In other countries, the first place somebody goes to when he has a problem is his MP or his Counselor. Here, they don’t even go near them; rather they will be looking for one person from the village to tell you they want to pay light bill, hospital bill, school fees… Meanwhile, those that are elected who should be the first line are not doing anything. We need to look at which aspect of the constitution can take care of some of these things and make elected people more accountable to the people, so somebody can walk into the office of an MP and create requirements for them to be in that office. ‘If you are going to be in the assembly this is the number of days you will spend in your constituency, to take action’. I think there is always a possibility of improvement in governance and let us not only think that government is only federal government. The states are there; the local governments are there. A governor came here to Abuja and said there is no hospital in my state; there is no water in my state. So, one day I met him at the airport and said ‘Your Excellency, I was Permanent Secretary Water Resources. Water is on the concurrent list, the federal government does not involve in water. The federal government builds big water schemes, like dams and so on. The state is the one that does smaller water supplies. As far as they are concerned it is not their job.