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National Assembly advised to reject water bill as minister urges review

By Adamu Abuh and Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
20 July 2022   |   2:51 am
Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has again called on the National Assembly to reject the controversial Water Resources Bill.
Nigeria Senate

[FLES] Nigeria Senate President Ahmad Lawan. Photo/facebook/TopeBrown/NigerianSenate

Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has again called on the National Assembly to reject the controversial Water Resources Bill.

The piece of legislation was re-presented on June 29, 2022, for first reading by the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli from Katsina State.

The bill, which was initially introduced and rejected by lawmakers of the eighth Assembly following public outcry, was reintroduced in the current ninth National Assembly in 2020, but again faced backlash from Nigerians, forcing the federal legislature to step it down.

On September 15, 2020, CAPPA and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE) led a delegation of civil societies and labour allies to a meeting with the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Hussein Adamu, where a clause-by-clause analysis was submitted with specific recommendations encapsulating the voices and concerns of the public.

Contentious areas of the earlier version include Section 98 which states that “the use of water shall be subject to licensing provisions; Section 120 which made it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole and Section 107 which says a licence might be cancelled if the licensee fails to make ‘beneficial’ use of water.”

CAPPA questioned who determines the beneficial use of water. Some of the identified problematic provisions in the previous bill are still recycled in the ‘revised’ version, it noted.

If passed, the bill would empower the Federal Government to control all water resources in the country, comprising rivers, streams, lakes and undergrounds.

The group also makes case for Public Private Partnership (PPP) water privatisation model.

In a statement in Abuja, CAPPA, however, described the so-called revised version of the bill as exactly the same that was “roundly rejected by Nigerians and interest groups.”

According to the group, the reintroduction of the bill is an insult to Nigerians.

Its Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “It is distasteful that the promoters did not consider any of the objections, but only move them to other sections with the intent to deceive Nigerians.”

He explained that a clause-by-clause analysis of the re-presented bill conducted by CAPPA shows that regardless of the ‘”re-packaging and re-arrangement of its sections and a few amendments, the bill still fails woefully to meet up the obligation of integrating the tenets of the human right to water and sanitation.”

HOWEVER, the minister, Adamu, has pleaded with Nigerians to carefully examine the bill.

Making the appeal in Abuja, he insisted that there was no provision in the bill that usurps the powers of the state governments over lands.

He regretted that while they were yearning for better water delivery services in the country, “some unpatriotic citizens are antagonising government’s efforts in attempting to improve the situation through introduction of the bill.”