The federal and Lagos State governments yesterday agreed to resolve the constitutional conflict over the control and regulation of inland waterways, stressing that peaceful resolution of the protracted conflict “is in the best interest of Lagos and Nigerians.
Also, the two governments agreed that their resolve to work out harmonious relationship would be without prejudice to the appeal filed by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) at the Supreme Court seeking an order against the decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos.
The new understanding was brokered yesterday at a meeting between the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi and NIWA’S Managing Director, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, at the State House, Alausa.
For about ten years, the Lagos State Inland Waterways Authority (LASWA) and its federal counterpart, NIWA have been locked in series of legal battle over the control and regulation of waterways within the state.
At different times, a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi and a Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos had decided that the power and right to control and regulate inland waterways lied with the state government.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate court, the NIWA appealed to the Supreme Court, asking the apex court to declare that the authority solely reserve the power to control and regulate waterways within states of the federation.
At the meeting, Ambode said putting the perennial conflict between NIWA and LASWA behind was the most patriotic thing “to do because it will in the best interest of all, especially the economic prosperity of the people.”
He said without prejudice to the matter currently before the Supreme Court on the issue, the state government nonetheless was ready to implement strategies to engender peaceful resolution of the grey areas and points of conflict in the overall interest of the people.
Ambode said it was particularly instructive and beneficial that NIWA was being headed at this particular point in time by Mamora, saying the development “will translate to the end of hostilities that had been going on for decades between the federal agency and LASWA.
“We are doing this not just for ourselves. We are doing it for Nigeria and Lagos. I believe strongly that the appointment of Mamora is divine. Even prior to his assumption, there has not been any major complaint from the controversy between the state government and NIWA.
“We are very happy for this. Let me reiterate here that I give my total support for the amicable resolution of the issue irrespective of the legal tussle that we have been having over the decades. We respect the rule of law.
“We know whatever the decision of the Supreme Court, it will be implemented by the regulatory authorities. So, I am committed to anything that is outstanding. We will resolve the grey areas amicably.”
He commended the NIWA management for championing mutual relationship, thus directing the officials of the state government to dialogue with the NIWA team with the view of coming up with structured approach to solidify the partnership.
“I give the go-ahead to all my management team and key officers to sit down with the management team of NIWA. Whatever grey areas should be resolved. I think in the areas that we have talked about, we can resolve issues relating to right of way, revenue and so on.
We can resolve these issues. I observe things have been very peaceful in these areas. But we can document and put in proper shape to let other people understand that we have moved forward progressively”.