Water bill a threat to nation’s fragile unity, legal practitioner warns
A Bayelsa-born legal practitioner, Dortimi Tawari, has thrown his weight behind state governors and growing opposition to the contentious National Water Resources Bill.
He described the proposed legislation as a threat to powers of the states and a danger to the nation’s fragile unity.
Tawari, who has over 35 years of experience, is also an environmentalist and a member of the Ijaw Community Law Review Group.
Speaking during an interactive session with newsmen at the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Bayelsa State chapter,
Tawari said the amended version of the bill is a revised version of the military decree initiated in 1993, under the junta led by former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida.
He said: “The Water Resources Bill has lots of ambiguities and confusion. It will tear our fragile unity. They have taken crude oil, water and the lives of the people. It is obnoxious and wicked to the Niger Delta and the Ijaw nation. The bill raises lots of suspicion.”
Saying he aligns with opposition to the legislation, he asked: “Why is it that the bill is introduced at this time of our political life? We should look where the bill is coming from. How can a non-elected person come up and say, because it is an executive bill, it must be passed.
“And to tell you how far the sponsors of the bill will go for it to be passed, we have seen threats, even against the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, that if it is not passed, they will impeach him. That is the most mundane act from those involved.
“Having had experience in the past when the bill was bill rejected twice, why is it coming now? Considering the pressure and the speed, why the haste? What is happening? Why so much venom? We should be circumspect about the bill. From characters, what we have heard and read, it shows there is something underneath.
“Water is not oil. Water is not gold. Water is different. Water is life. Water is livelihood. It depends on where you are geographically. For us in the Niger Delta, water is life. We drink water and live by water. And everything about us is water. Therefore any legislation bothering on water is a legislation that will touch on our life.
“If you want to control water, the people affected must be listened to. Not just listening to them, but also taking their passion into consideration. The socio-cultural dimension in the legislation must be considered.”