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Water storm ripples

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Much as a great many Nigerians are pushing for devolution of powers, it has been shown that this Administration, driven by President Buhari does not believe in it. The more people press for decentralisation, the more he consolidates powers at the centre. The manifesto of the APC is unequivocal on the imperative of devolution of powers to the states.

The El-Rufai Committee on restructuring of the country commissioned by the APC came back to say the pulse they felt across the country was that restructuring was an idea which time had come. And John Oyegun, the then national chairman of the party was effusive in his laudation, receiving the report with glee. He promised that the party high command would not let the country down; it would most likely give favourable consideration to it. Both the report and the party manifesto have been filed away. Alas!

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There are things which just don’t add up in Abuja with their disturbing currents streaming across the land, assailing the discerning who can read between the lines on their implications for trust, harmony, stability, and development of the country. CAMA is one as it concerns the spiritual/religious aspect in the Incorporated Trusteeship section of the amended Company and Allied Matters Act 2020. Many do not seem to recognize that the Darkness is subtle in its ways and when not covert, its presentation is in flowing and unsuspecting prose. This reading goes for both major religions, even though Christendom has it more encrypted in their consciousness. The dust CAMA kicked into the skies has not quite settled when the nation’s attention is poignantly drawn to the water resources bill which has been passed by the House of Representatives.

The bill proposes a Water Resources Regulatory Commission. The Bill in Section 22 (1) (b) vests in the commission the responsibility for “economic and technical regulation of all aspects of National Water resources exploitation and provision.” This is reinforced by Section 107 (1) which says “The commission may, subject to regulations made under this Act and conditions imposed, authorize all or any category of persons to use water by notice in the Gazette. a) generally; b) in relation to a specific water resource; or c) within an area specified in the notice.

The implication in the omnibus provision is that an entrepreneur will have to obtain approval from Abuja to bottle a river fall for a commercial purpose, say in Ekiti. It is no longer enough to have the nod of the state government and local government. Lawyers may perhaps have to enlighten me on this and I hope I am right with my layman’s understanding for now, that the staging of the cultural river festival such as Osun Osogbo and its variants in several local communities not nationally advertised may have, henceforth, to be cleared with the water commission sitting in Abuja. What does the federal authority understand by the cultural and spiritual imperatives of the different communities and the diverse peoples of Nigeria and the use to which they put their water, as to want to control this all-important resource which they worship or is required for their mode of worship!

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With growing fundamentalism in the land, how will the uninitiated understand a valiant Naaman going to River Jordan on the admonition of Prophet Elisha, and dipping himself therein seven times to be cured of leprosy? Here was a highly regarded general, the captain of the host of the King of the land who had “brought deliverance unto Syria,” but he was a leper. Concerned about his health condition, King besought Elisha the prophet to do something about it. Elisha did as he was told by the prophet and he was cured of the debilitating disease. I have gone to this length because you never know how far puritans could go since the Section states the “commission may, subject to regulations made under this Act and conditions imposed, authorize all or any category of persons to use water by notice in the gazette a) generally and b) in relation to a specific water resource; or c) within an area specified in the notice.”

Section 132(4) states “Subject to this Act, any right, obligations, or duty accruing to any person or authority by virtue of any licenses, permits, approvals or agreements with respect to any activities for which provision is made under this Act, together with any rights Cap W2LFN, 2004, as well as the River basin Development Authority Act, Cap 396 LFN 199, shall continue to vest in such person or authority as if it had accrued, vested or been acquired pursuant to this Act.”

On the surface, it would appear that this section gives some relief. But looked at closely it is deceptive if read along Section 133 (6) which states as follows: “Any law, regulation, bye-law, or notice, of any State or Local Government Council in force immediately prior the date of commencement of this Act, in relation to any subject matter or activity provided for under this Act shall be of no force and effect to the extent that it is covered under this Act.”

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With this latter Act what may have been regarded as the gain touted in Section 132 (4) has been thrown out of the window. This is saying that the State governments or local councils have forfeited their rights to make laws or bylaws on the use of their waters or give directives on the use of their waterways. As I bite my lips, I ask where is Dogara? Where is Pelosi? In the other arm, the acting registrar of marriages is predictable to give us an independent legislature. I ask myself, where is the rascally Bukola Saraki?

A lot of economic activities take place in rivers and waterways. If the federal authorities are taking over the waters, it means it is its agency that is to control the activities to which the rivers and their basins can be put as he who owns the river owns its embankments. Even for a non-discerning person who can think only a little, it is not difficult to see that this bill is being pushed to counter the Cattle Ranch Law in Benue and the opposition to RUGA in several parts of the country. It can be seen as what you lose at the bend you gain at the round-about! When this is read along with the pronouncement of the President on cattle routes, an unintended conclusion is inescapable. We cannot be talking about the cattle routes of the 50s and 60s in 2020. Expansion in social and economic activities, farming, and industrial developments have necessitated the obliterating of such cattle routes in different states and communities.

It is amazing as it is troubling that the Federal authorities have not been able to isolate matters on which it cannot make laws, matters over which they should sensibly, if they are sensitive at all, stay clear. Water is one, the land is another. It is in consideration of such matters that the founding fathers of this country elected federation as best suited for the diversity and complexities of our land. Nigeria is a federal republic. Even then, there is unceasing and undisguised yearning, while foreswearing the oneness of the country, to renegotiate the terms on which the oneness is to be planted. We are not the same people. Nigeria is not a land of settlers, it is not a land of immigrants but a country of diverse nationalities. Each people have their ancestral lands and waters and rivers. There are about 350 ethnic groups with their languages. Cultures differ, so do values and world view as well as exposure. It is these varieties that make the beauty of the country. The differences cannot be legislated against. It is the Laws of Creation that have brought about the diversities and ensured differences according to the measure of the inner development of each people. As individuals mature he moves into a new level and integration takes place seamlessly. If the Almighty Creator had wanted to have one people, one race, one ethnic group, he would have done so. But people are given free will to decide how fast they want to go in their development. Life did not begin on earth. The development through the exercise of the free will be determined where each people incarnated. Reincarnation is decided by the same law. It is such that a white slave owner of centuries past is reincarnated as a Blackman to strive, as his atonement, for the restoration of the dignity of the Blackman he once denigrated and brutally harmed, or be a slave himself where such wicked practices are still in practice, perhaps in a different guise.

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The Law of Homogeneity, more correctly called the Law of Homogeneous Species, and in many cases in collaborative working with the Law of Sowing and Reaping, also more correctly termed the Law of Reciprocal Action determine our places, where we are born, and into what race we emerge. The latter ensures that however trivial, no matter how inconsequential a wrong maybe, it shall not go unatoned for. According to higher knowledge made available to mankind today, the wide-spread belief that last-minute prayers by pious priests are only what is required minutes to exit is self-delusion. Adamantine is the Law. The laws are uniform, unchanging from Age to Age, and are self-acting. The laws are perfect and incorruptible. The Creator has so ordered His Creation such that if His laws are adhered to, only joy, peace and peace must ensue, the Laws working on their own without any push by any human being, government, priest, or power.

All human beings are put in places they need and in conditions which they have woven for themselves, all for their development. A harrowing experience is meant to break us from within so we can reflect, and change our attitudes as well as our ways. God-willed life does not permit of envy and covetousness. Taking advantage of others using cunning or force is not the path to atonement. It leads to further entanglements. Doesn’t the scripture say “Thou shall not get out of thence until you have paid the last farthing?” Have we not been admonished to wash our linen clean as a precondition for ascent? Ignorance of these laws which express the Will of the Highest provides no shield to prevent their effects on any human being.

It is because these laws have been brushed aside that there are upheavals and storms in practically every country of the world and in homes. Human beings thought themselves cleverer than the Creator has formed countries for themselves or for others without the slightest heed to the Creator’s Laws, putting totally strange fellows together. It is so self-evident that it is easier for people of the same tendencies to live together and in harmony than it is for people who are dissimilar in several ways. Where ignorance has led to difficult situations, loosening up in a truly federal arrangement is the way out—to love, stability and harmony, joy, peace, and development. The Water Resources Bill is a cigarette end which should, without any further ado and with great speed, be thrown into the trash can, never to raise its ugly, incendiary head again.

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