Bako closed from work exhausted. It was a hot evening in Minna, Niger State and all that was on his mind were how to get home, take his bath, eat dinner and go to bed. There were piles of pending files on his desk yet to be attended to. He had just resumed work after the public holiday given to Nigerians by the Federal Government to celebrate October 1st, which happened to be Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.
‘Welcome home daddy’, Talia jumped on her father. She had missed her father’s presence since morning. ‘Welcome home my husband’, Sami said to her husband. ‘It’s good to be home’, Bako said as he embraced his wife and his daughter. ‘Where are your brothers?’ he asked Talia. The two boys were in their room, supposedly doing their homework. ‘They have been busy chasing each other around the house instead of settling down to do their homework’ she responded. ‘Welcome daddy’, Bako’s two sons echo together as they entered the living-room. They had heard their father’s voice from their bedroom and came out to greet him. Abu and Bala were carbon copies of their father. Despite his tiredness, Bako was always happy to see his children and wife. His wife and three children were his sources of joy and he would do anything to give them the comfort they deserved.
‘Did you fill up the containers I dropped in your car with water?’ Bako’s wife asked him. ‘You promised to get water for us from your office’ she continued, turning to face him. ‘Haa! I completely forgot. I knew there was something important I needed to do but I just couldn’t place my mind on what it was’ Bako responded. ‘We do not have a drop of water in the house. What we have is the drinking water you bought on your way back from the office’ Sami lamented. ‘Are you saying there is no water for me to take my bath tonight? I am tired and my body is itchy’ Bako complained. ‘Well, I sent a WhatsApp message to your phone to remind you to fill up the containers with water, but it seems like you did not read it’ Sami said. ‘Yes, I was too busy in the office to read messages, I apologize for that’, Bako agreed.
‘Daddy, can we go back to your office to fetch the water in the containers? That way, you will get water to bath this night, and we will all have water to bathe in the morning’, Talia asked her father. Talia was a daddy’s girl. She loved to always be around her father whenever he was at home. ‘Daddy wants water to bathe this night, but how can we get water’, Talia asked no one in particular? ‘That is my girl’, Bako said and gave his daughter Talia a hug. ‘Well, it is your father’s fault that he forgot to fill the containers in his car with water, while in the office’, Sami answered her daughter.
‘I am beginning to get tired of us not having constant from the tap’, Bako thought. ‘How does one explain the fact that we only have access to tap water in this area just once a month, and even when the water runs in the tap, the pressure of the water is not much and in less than 24 hours, the water stops running again. It is getting out of hand’ Bako muttered. ‘Abu, Bala, go back to your room and continue your homework, I will come and check to make sure there are no mistakes in your work’, Sami told her sons.
‘I was at water board to complain about the lack of water in our area, and to think that they have the effrontery to bring water bills to this area, for us to pay for unused water is beyond me, this water scarcity is beyond me’ Bako complained to his wife.
‘What about the family down the street? I mean the family that sells water from their borehole to people in the area’ Bako asked. ‘You mean Mr Felix? They open their borehole to sell water from 6 am in the morning to 6 pm in the evening. This is 8 pm, they are closed already’ Sami replied. ‘But it’s their house, can’t we go and knock on their gate to buy water?’ Bako continued. ‘I am not sure the family will attend to us, but we could try’, Sami suggested.
‘I do not even understand how a person will decide to cash in on his neighbours’ essential need by selling water to people in the area’, Bako said. ‘Well, he is not the government, he installed the borehole with his money and I believe he has the right to do whatever he desires with it’, Sami responded. ‘Besides the neighbours are not complaining’, she continued. ‘They are not complaining because they have no choice!’, Bako replied angrily.
‘Do you still want to take a bath this night? We could ask the gateman to go there and check if he’ll get water to buy’, Sami said, as a reminder that it was getting late. ‘I will go with him’, Bako offered as he picked up his car key. ‘Daddy, can I come with you’, Talia asked her father. ‘No my daughter, it is late already, stay with your mother. I will be back shortly’, he hugged his daughter as he walked out of the door.
Mr Bako returned home 45 minutes later, with all the containers filled with water. ‘Thank God, you finally got water. You can bath, eat and go to bed, you look tired’ Sami observed. ‘Yes, I am tired and angry’, Bako told his wife. ‘Why are you angry?’ Sami asked wondering who or what might have angered her husband. ‘Could you believe that a jerry can of water was sold to us at N25? Mr Felix’s wife told Musa, the gateman, that it’s normally N15 per jerry can if the person comes to fetch water at the time stipulated, but at any time beyond that, there will be an addition of N10 to the normal price, making it N25!’ Bako replied. ‘Haa! I never knew that. I thought the cost of buying water, regardless of the time of the day, is the same’ Sami responded.
‘Where is Talia?’ Bako asked as he got ready to take his bath. ‘She and her brothers have gone to bed, tomorrow is a school day’, Sami reminded him.
The following morning, Bako left home early to beat the traffic to work. He thought about the events of the previous day. He knew he had to find a solution to the water scarcity in the area, but he did not know how. He smiled as he remembered his beautiful daughter, Talia’s suggestion this morning on the water scarcity. ‘Daddy, I think we should move out of this area, and go to an area where there is no water scarcity’, she had told him.
How would Bako move his family, and to where? He had completed the building of his house two years ago, and immediately moved his family into the 4-bedroom apartment. This was a major accomplishment for him. Some of his friends were still living in rented apartments, but because he had a clear vision of what he wanted for his family, he had told his wife that they needed to cut down on expenses so that they could save enough money to buy a land and develop the property. He was glad that his wife believed in his vision, and with the determination to be prudent with money, Bako and Sami, started saving 50% each of their salaries into a joint account for the project at hand. Two years later, they were able to save enough, money to start the building project and exactly one year later, the beautiful 4-bedroom bungalow was completed, and two months later, they moved into the house.
Scarcity of water had initially not been an issue, at least Bako knew that when they moved into their house, there was 24 hours water supply from the tap. But that had changed. He and some other concerned neighbours who also had private houses in the area and were also affected by the water scarcity, had visited the Niger State Water Board to lay complaints about the constant scarcity of water, but there had been no improvement, rather the situation was getting worse.
There has to be a permanent solution to this problem, Bako thought, as he parked his car at his designated official parking spot, before proceeding to the office to start the day’s work.
The following Saturday, around 11 am, Bako called his friend Tanko, another owner of a private property in the area to discuss with him about the water situation. ‘I think we need to meet, to be able to discuss better’ Bako told Tanko. ‘I agree with you. Come over to my house’, Tanko replied.
Bako and his daughter Talia, strolled to Tanko’s house which was two streets away from his own house. Bako loved the rapid development they were experiencing around the area, more people had built houses for personal use, while some others developed their properties and rented them out.
‘What are we going to Mr Tanko’s house for’, Talia asked her father. ‘We are going there to discuss the water scarcity in the area’, her father replied. ‘My teacher said one of the solutions to water scarcity is to install a water borehole in an area’, Talia informed her father. ‘Your teacher said that?’ he asked, surprised. ‘Yes, we had a topic on sources of water in class last week and she said installing water borehole is one of the ways to stop water scarcity’ Talia added. ‘Really?’, Bako asked, pretending he didn’t know what a borehole is. ‘That is impressive’ he told her. ‘Do you want to know what a water borehole is?’ Talia, asked her father. Bako, could barely hold back the laughter, but smiled instead, ‘Please, tell me, my young teacher, what a water borehole is’, Bako responded with a mischievous smile. Talia took a deep breath and with a seriousness not very common with children her age, explained to her father. ‘A water borehole is a hole, made deep into the ground to locate water’. She thought she was educating her father, and she was filled with a sense of pride. ‘A round of applause for my brilliant daughter’, Bako said, while clapping for his daughter and at the same time amused that she thought he didn’t know what water borehole was.
Talia continued, ‘My friend in school even told me they had water scarcity problem too until her father decided to install a water borehole in their house, and since then, there has been constant water in their house’. Bako stopped in his tracks, looked at his daughter. ‘Really?’ he asked. ‘Yes, dad. That is exactly what my friend told me’ she said. ‘Then maybe, just maybe our family have found a solution to the problem at hand’ he told his daughter.
Bako, thought to himself why he never thought of installing a borehole inside his compound for his family’s use? Instead of the constant visitation to Niger State Water Board, to complain. Bako playfully tickled his daughter’s cheeks in appreciation of the solution given to him.
‘Hello Bako’, Tanko greeted as he welcomed his friend into his house. ‘Talia, it’s good to see you too. You decided to accompany your father to visit me, how is school?’, Tanko asked. ‘School is fine sir’, Talia replied. ‘My friend’, Bako began, ‘you know the reason I am here. It is to discuss the issue of water scarcity in this area. For how long is everybody going to continue to suffer over an essential amenity?’ Bako continued ‘it surprises me that when I built my house and moved into the area with my family, we enjoyed 24-hour water supply without interruption, but right now, that is a story in the past’.
‘Honestly, my friend’, Tanko responded, ‘I also do not understand why it is taking the Niger State Water Board such a long time to proffer a solution to the problem at hand, but remember when we went there together, the official we met told us the increasing population growth in this area has intensified the demand for water and consumption of water, and the capacity of the supply is not enough for the growing population. Haven’t you noticed that when we moved to this area, I remember my family and I moved in two weeks after your family moved, there was good water supply’. ‘Yes, the water supply was excellent’ Bako agreed. ‘That was because the population then was proportional to the water supply chain allocated to this area. Now it is no longer proportionate’ Tanko added.
Bako left his friend’s house without a resolution on how to tackle the water scarcity issue in the area, but at the back of his mind, his conversation with his daughter Talia, to construct a water borehole in his compound for the family kept resounding. ‘Daddy you still look worried’, Talia said to her father. She noticed he was deep in thought as they passed in front of Mr Felix’s house where people we struggling to fetch water. ‘Don’t worry about me, I am fine Talia’, her father assured her.
Bako stopped in front of Mr Felix’s house and watched as two men fought each other over who’s turn it was to buy water. ‘I was here first, which means I will fetch water first’ the taller of the two said. ‘No, I paid before you, which means I have to fetch water before you’, said the other man.
It was a disgrace, watching as two adults fought over who was going to fetch water first, but again, but could he blame them? The frustration of having to struggle to get a basic amenity was frustrating enough, Bako thought to himself. Talia could feel her father’s frustration as they took the remaining walk back home, and knowing her father to be a man who would stop at nothing until he found a lasting solution to a problem, she wondered what solution he was going to come up with. ‘Daddy, why did uncle Tanko say that we are experiencing water scarcity in this area because of the population of the people living in the area, how is this so?’ Talia asked. ‘Yes Talia, it is true that a growing population in an area could increase water scarcity, due to more demand for the water for domestic use and even agricultural use. When demand is more than the supply, it creates a major problem, like the problem we are seeing with water in our area’, Bako explained to his daughter. ‘Which means because there are more people in the area, the water available can no longer serve everybody the way it should?’ She asked. ‘Exactly!’, he replied.
‘How was your discussion with Tanko?’ Sami asked her husband as they arrived home. ‘Still the same old story of complaining without proffering a solution to the problem. He said one of the causes of water scarcity in this area is the increase in the population of the people living in this area, which I completely agree with him’.
Bako, held his wife’s hand and led her outside to the backyard of their big compound. ‘How would you like us to have our own domestic water borehole in our compound? ‘A borehole!’ Sami exclaimed, ‘where did you get that idea from?’ she asked. ‘The idea came from me’, a voice that sounded just like Talia’s said. Her parents looked up to see their daughter Talia, and her elder brothers, Abu and Bala walking towards them. ‘Talia, gave you the idea?’ Sami asked her husband in amusement. ‘Does Talia even know what a water borehole is? I doubt that she has ever seen one!’ she added. ‘Well, I may not have seen one but my teacher described it when we treated sources of water as a topic in class. And she showed us pictures. I even educated daddy about what a water borehole is’. Sami, looked at her husband again. ‘Really? Your daughter educated you about water borehole? She asked, now finding the conversation funny. Bako, gave his wife a wink to suggest that he only gave their daughter the impression that he knew nothing about water boreholes.
Looking at her husband, Sami said ‘we could even buy a big water tank and a pumping machine. The pumping machine would pump water to the tank, and from the tank there will be connected pipes to disburse the water into the house’. ‘Very true. I will get a water expert who will also treat the water after the whole process is concluded before we pump into the water tank for usage’ Bako suggested. ‘Mummy, how come you know so much about water borehole’, Talia asked her mother. ‘I am not like your father’, Sami said laughing and winking at her husband at the same time.
That evening, Bako invited his childhood friend, Garba, who happened to have a borehole engineering service company to come over to the house the next day so they could discuss the water borehole.
Garba was at Bako’s house the following evening to know what Bako really needed. ‘I will be back in two days along with my worker, a hydro-geologist to assess the geophysical properties of the area’, said Garba. ‘Uncle Garba, who is a hydro-geologist?’ Talia asked her father’s friend as she walked into the living-room. ‘It’s a person who helps us to ensure that we are not drilling the wrong ground. There are some pipelines, or phone lines that are installed under the ground which shouldn’t be tampered with, it’s his job to make sure we don’t tamper with them, or drill natural hazards like rocks’ he explained.
‘Am I looking at the next engineer in Bako’s house’? Garba jokingly asked Bako. ‘She’s one to watch out for’, Bako replied his friend.
Work had started on the borehole drilling and the whole Bako family was excited because there seemed to be a solution in sight on the end to water scarcity in their house. Talia especially would sit some distance away to observe the drilling going on, the installation of pipes, the casing that would keep the borehole from caving in. She never stopped calling uncle Garba’s name to ask about the next step on the borehole. On a bright Thursday morning, while schools were on mid-term break, Talia, finished her breakfast quickly when she had heard the sound of workers resuming for work at the backyard. She wanted to quickly sit at her favorite spot and watch the men work. ‘Good morning uncle Garba’, Talia said. ‘How is daddy’s girl doing today?’ Garba asked Talia. ‘I am fine’ she responded.
’I see that you are interested in what is happening over there. I see the times you rush into the house to change from your school uniform, when you come back from school, just to watch what we are doing’, Garba smiled at her. Yes, uncle, I like what you’re doing. I still have a mental picture of how the ground was before you started drilling and now, it is almost unbelievable that a structure like the one there is capable of giving us water’ Talia explained. ‘Oh yes’, Garba said. ‘You sound very articulate and intelligent for your age. You know what? I will allow you to come close to the almost completed water borehole for 5 minutes only and to have a closer look at everything being done’ he told her. ‘Thank you so much, uncle Garba’. Garba could see the excitement on Talia’s face and wondered why she was so interested in what they were doing.
It is normal for children to be initially excited when a structure like the one they had here was being constructed and everyone gathers to watch, like Talia’s parents and brothers did when construction started, but it is only a person who has a passion, which they themselves may not know yet, to have someone sit every day to watch as workers worked, and once in a while would shout out questions to one or two workers. ‘Sir, why are you laying that pipe, that way’, ‘Sir, what is that equipment used for’. All these were questions Garba could hear Talia ask the workers. Today, Garba, decided to do her the honour of inviting her close to the almost completed water borehole to have a good look. Her facial expression was priceless when he told her to come along. ‘Bako and Sami, should watch out for this girl, she might just be the next engineer in the family’, Garba thought to himself.
Moving closer, to the constructed borehole with Talia, uncle Garba showed Talia how to select a site for a borehole. He explained what it entailed to drill and construct a borehole, the steps taken to determine the yield of the borehole and finally, install the borehole pump. While uncle Garba spoke, Talia, listened with rapt attention.
‘Uncle Garba, I want to study Water Resources Management in the university’ Talia said. ‘Haa, I knew it!’ Uncle Garba exclaimed. ‘I knew it the moment you asked me a question about who a hygro-geologist is. The way you listened attentively, just as you’re doing now made me know you had something up your sleeve’. Talia smiled, ‘uncle, you got me there. I just love the way you were able to proffer a solution to the water scarcity we have been experiencing’, said Talia. It also means you can help people in this area solve their water scarcity problem. ‘How did you know about this course?’ Uncle Garba asked ‘Talia. It’s the 21st-century uncle, we have the internet to help with research on any topic’ she responded. ‘I will tell your, father, this’, uncle Garba said to Talia, laughing. ‘My parents already know, I told them two days ago’ she reassured him. ‘That is impressive’, said uncle Garba.