FG: No Going Back on Water Resources Bill

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Lai Mohammed

* Says critics of bill ill-informed

By Udora Orizu

The federal government has said that there’s no going back in the passage of the National Water Resources Bill, currently before the National Assembly.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this known on Tuesday at a press briefing he addressed with his counterpart, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, in Abuja.

The controversial Bill, which was rejected in the 8th Assembly, has been reintroduced in the 9th National Assembly, and is again receiving backlash from stakeholders who believe there’s sinister motives behind it.

But, Mohammed at the briefing said those criticising the Bill were either ill-informed or have not read it or do not understand its provisions.

He said the bill is for the good of the nation and has no hidden agenda whatsoever, adding that it’s a deliberate mischief by some of those who have been portraying the Bill as a new source of conflict.

The minister 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 and 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.

”Also, we cannot rule out deliberate mischief by some of those who have been portraying the Bill as a new source of conflict. We are therefore using this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill to avoid being misled by those who have chosen to politicise it. We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever. Finally, when passed into law, the National Water Resources Bill 2020 will provide for the enhancement of the Nigeria Water Sector, in line with global best practices.”

Corroborating the minister’s statement, his counterpart in water resources, Adamu, said the bill was never a Buhari bill and was sent to all the states for concurrence.

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