Reps to revisit controversial water resources bill
The House of Representatives is to reconsider the Water Resources Bill viewed in certain quarters as an attempt to reintroduce the rejected RUGA policy.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who dropped the hint, insisted that the decision was in the best interest of the country. Recalling how the lower legislative chamber was forced to retrace itself regarding the expeditious passage of the Infectious Diseases Bill, the Lagos lawmaker argued that it was better to err on the side of caution.
He, therefore, directed Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, to re-gazette it for fresh deliberation.
The resolution followed a motion by Mzondu Benjamin Bem (PDP: Benue).He had pointed out that the proposed piece of legislation, which scaled third reading in the eighth assembly, should be subjected to fresh deliberation since the “salient provisions of the bill will impact on the well-being of Nigerians.”
Nkem-Abonta Uzoma (PDP: Abia), who raised a point of constitutional order, stressed that the bill was in “breach of the Land Use Act and Section 315 of the 199 Constitution (as amended).
Kingsley Chinda (PDP: Rivers) concurred, maintaining that it behoves the Speaker to give every member an opportunity to deliberate on the piece of legislation.
But the committee chair, Fulata, held that since the bill had been previously passed, there was no need for another round of deliberations. He was supported by Sada Soli, who chairs the House Committee on Water Resources.
In his contribution, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, advised the Green Chamber against circumventing its own rules. The proposed law, which was rejected by the eighth Senate, vests the right to use, management and control of surface water, ground waterbeds and banks affecting more than one state to the Federal Government.
This implies that the central government is in control of all 267.3billion cubic metres of surface water and 51.9 billion metres of groundwater, including all 200 damns storing up to 11 billion cubic metres of water in Nigeria.
It also includes control of boreholes, Rivers Niger and Benue, the Oguta Lake, Lake Chad, Lullemeden Aquifer System, Tano and Keta Aquifer System and Lake Chad.