Southern, middle belt forum fault executive bill
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has urged the National Assembly to dropped the Executive Bill seeking to concentrate control of water resources in the hands of the Federal Government.
In a statement by the representatives of the forum, Mr. Yinka Odumakin for Southwest, Senator Henshaw Bassey for South South; Dr. Isuwa Dogo for Middle Belt and Prof. Chigozie Ogwu for Southeast, it said the bill was anti-federalism and capable of further heating up the polity at a time Nigeria need peace.
The forum said that the controversial parts of the bill are contained in Clauses 1 to 5, which says all surface water and groundwater wherever it occurs is a resource common to all people, the use of which is subject to statutory control.
The clause also stated there shall be no private ownership of water but the right to use water in accordance with the provisions of the Act among others.
According to the forum, “We consider this bill to be provocative, obnoxious and a crude assault on the spirit of federalism at a time when the calls for devolution of power have reached the crescendo .Why anyone will choose a time like this to further strengthen unitary holds on our polity is quite unfathomable.”
The forum said the Court of Appeal has settled the matter and the Presidency should have been guided if institutional memory is guiding.
It stressed that the Appeal Court on July 18, 2017 had ruled that: “No doubt, the common radical denominator is the scope of waterways cutting across international and state boundaries coupled with a declaration by the National Assembly that such waterways are international or interstate respectively.
“The more obvious areas of coverage under the exclusive list are the sea tidal waters and marine ports declared by the National Assembly to be federal ports. But one finds nothing on the exclusive list dealing with intra-state waterways either in Lagos or any other state in the federation.”
“The burden is on the respondents to show that any of the lagoons, creeks or waterways used for intra-state navigation has run across the parameters of Lagos State into international or interstate boundaries and is so declared in a law promulgated by the National Assembly.”
It accused the Presidency of having ulterior motives, saying, “It is quite obvious that the goal of the bill is not water that the Federal Government can get in abundance by drilling boreholes, the goal is to use water to take over resources from the states instead of devolving more powers to them.”
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