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Senate to revisit controversial water resources control bill

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Barely 14 months after the contentious Water Resources Control Bill was thrown out, the Senate has promised to revive and pass the piece of legislation into law.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan gave the assurance yesterday in Abuja during the screening of one-time Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu.

The bill was passed in the House of Representatives but suffered a defeat in the Red Chamber during the Bukola Saraki presidency.Making the announcement, Lawan claimed that the document was rejected because the then Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, “misled” Nigerians of its intentions.He said the two chambers would ensure that a water resource bill was in place to regulate the sector.

President Muhammadu Buhari, had in 2017, forwarded the controversial bill to the eighth National Assembly seeking to give the Federal Government powers to control deployment of water resources.The proposed legislation was presented by Lawan (then Senate Majority Leader), as was customary to executive bills.

But in May 2018, the bill was stepped down during the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Water Resources, as senators were divided along party, religious and ethnic lines.

While northern lawmakers, predominantly of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Muslims, had supported the bill and its objectives, their southern counterparts and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislators strongly opposed it.

Opponents of the piece of legislation had pointed out that if passed into law, it would further centralise power and the nation’s resources. This, they argued, would counter the current move towards devolution of powers.

They had criticised the move to create new federal bodies as a ploy to take over the responsibilities of the states on the water resources within their territories.But speaking after the ministerial screening, Lawan canvassed the reintroduction of the bill, adding that it would lead to a “better managed water resources environment.”


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