The Federal Government has declared it will go ahead with the Water Resources Bill.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed told reporters the bill was not designed to cause water wars in the country.

He said the bill is a panacea to likely water conflicts in the country.

He said critics of the bill have either not read it or might be mischievous.

He said there is no hidden agenda behind the bill.

He said it is not a subterfuge reintroduction of RUGA.

Mohammed made the clarifications at a joint briefing with the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu in Abuja.

He said: “There is nothing new about the National Water Resources Bill. This is because it is an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws that have been in existence for a long time. These are:

– Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004

– The River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004

– The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004

– National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004

“So, why are the laws being re-packaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020?

“The answer is that they are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

“The overall objective of this amalgamation is the efficient management of the Water Resources Sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the well-being of its citizens.

“The Bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and ground water for the use of the people (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric energy, navigation, fisheries and recreation).

“The Bill will ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons.

“Critics contend that the Bill is aimed at taking the resources of a certain part of the country for the use of herders. In other words, the Federal Government is seeking to implement RUGA by subterfuge.

“We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever.”

Adamu said the bill was sent to all the states for concurrence without any object.

He said the bill predated the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said:” This was never a Buhari bill, it is a bill for Nigeria. It started 2008 long before the President thought of winning election.”

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.