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Again, labour, CSOs reaffirm opposition to national water resources bill

By Edu Abade
22 September 2021   |   3:55 am
For the umpteenth time, organised labour and civil society organisations (CSOs) have restated their opposition to what they described as ‘the vexatious and controversial’ National Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly.

Tap water. PHOTO: Getty Images

For the umpteenth time, organised labour and civil society organisations (CSOs) have restated their opposition to what they described as ‘the vexatious and controversial’ National Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly.

The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Public Services International (PSI), Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Joint Action Front (JAF), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), among others, maintained their stance against the bill at a town hall meeting, yesterday, in Abuja.

In his keynote address titled: Resource Management Dialogue Within a Federal State Versus National Water Bill, Dr. Sofiri-Joab Peterside of the University of Port Harcourt dwelt on how the Federal Government has continued to ignore the yearnings of Nigerians, trying to impose neoliberal policies on the citizens.

Describing as unfortunate the World Bank and other capitalist institutions’ neoliberal economic paradigm foisted on the country’s education, electricity, public infrastructure, housing and water sectors, he lamented that the Federal Government was encouraging tax benefits and generous incentives for private sector operators.

Also speaking, Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, noted that between the second and last quarter of year 2020, there was national outcry against the obnoxious provisions of the bill and the way its promoters in the Ministry of Water Resources and the National Assembly tried to force it on Nigerians.

Oluwafemi said even after the bill was stepped down, its backers have continued to push for its re-presentation. Labour and civil society would, therefore, continue to mobilise against it until the Federal Government commences a fresh process that would integrate the demands of the people.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the groups said the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly of July 28, 2010 recognised the human right to potable water and sanitation. They said this makes it mandatory for the Nigerian government to remove all obstacle to citizens’ access.

“The Nigerian government, at all levels, must wean themselves of addiction to Public Private Partnership (PPP), which has failed all over the world and spurred remunicipalisations, especially in the last 10 years.

“The Federal Government must discard the obnoxious National Water Bill and begin a fresh community-led process and consultation to birth a true and inclusive National Water Bill at the National Assembly, and respect the genuine wishes of Nigerians and the media by discarding the toxic National Water Bill.

“The Federal Government and all state governments must embrace tested and proven public sector solutions in addressing Nigeria’s water challenges. Some suggested solutions are the Public-Private-Partnership model and National Water Trust Fund,” the communiqué reads.

The groups also stressed the need for comprehensive data on water infrastructure investment and access to aid planning, now and in the future, and urged government to embrace democratic decision-making and democratic control, which puts communities first in addressing water shortages.

While canvassing prioritisation of plans for women, communities and vulnerable groups to guarantee access to water, they charged governments at all levels to invest in public infrastructure and embrace democratic, participatory and transparent management of water investments that would fulfil the human right to water through the public sector.