National Water Bill: Water Union, CAPPA Meet With Minister, Restate Opposition to Bill

The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) have restated their demands for the National Assembly to jettison the National Water Resources Bill 2020 at a meeting with Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Hussein Adamu in Abuja today.

The meeting, at the instance of the minister, followed country-wide criticism that has trailed the re-emergence of the Bill in the current Assembly after it failed to secure concurrent passage by both Houses in the Eighth Assembly in 2018.

AUPCTRE and CAPPA had in a press briefing on August 21, 2020 raised fears that the Bill will fling the doors wide open for privatisers to seize the nation’s water resources. Both organisations in a joint letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on September 3, 2020, also catalogued obnoxious sections of the Bill and how they posed danger to the attainment of the Human Right to Water.

In the last two weeks civil society and other groups have also criticized the Bill. Some critics are playwright and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Yinka Odumakin of the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, and the Ijaw Youth Council, among others.

CAPPA hadinsisted that the pro-privatisation sections should be removed from the Bill or else it should be trashed.

The Bill, with a long title, An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, provide for the equitable and sustainable development management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface Water and Ground Water Resources and for related matters, has scaled Second Reading in the current House of Representatives and has been referred to the House Committee on Rules and Business.

AUPCTRE and CAPPA are concerned about Sections 1, 2, 3, 13, 22, 24, 89, 98, 104, 105 and 107, . as well as Sections 109, 110, 120, 121, 125, 129 and 131.

At the end of the meeting with the minister, AUPCTRE National President, Comrade Benjamin Anthony said: Our meeting with the Minister of Water Resources was very frank. The minister advanced reasons why the Bill should pass but we drew his attention to the contentious clauses that must be addressed. We restate our opposition to this anti-people Bill and urge the National Assembly to trash it. The Bill fails to address human rights issues and does not enjoy the support of Nigerians”

Comrade Anthony insisted that the Bill will dispossess Nigerian citizens of their inherited and cultural rights to water and should be discarded immediately

CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor said: The contents of the Bill are against the spirit of the July 28, 2010 United Nations General Assembly Resolution which recognized in unmistakeable terms, the human right to water and sanitation. Öur position remains unchanged: President Buhari should use his good office to recall this contentious Bill from the legislative quarters and kick-start a fresh process which will entail consultation and input from Nigerians from the beginning through the entire process at the National Assembly.

It will be recalled that following the recent re-introduction of the vexatious national water resources bill 2020, labour, civil society organisations have warned the national Assembly to trash the bill or face protracted resistance from Nigerians.