Water Resources Bill: Niger Delta National Assembly members are sleeping – IYC
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), worldwide, has described the controversial Water Resources Bill recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives as highly provocative.
The Bill before the National Assembly is said to be an amalgamation of already existing water resources laws that are presently being used to develop and manage Nigeria’s Water Resources as contained in the following: Water Resources Act, Cap W2LFN 2004; The River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9LFN 2004; The Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004; National Water Resources Institute Act,Cap N83LFN 2004.
These laws are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends and best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management, IWRM. The purpose of the National Water Bill is to establish a regulatory framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria through the provision of equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface and ground water.
The bill, which was introduced in the 8th Assembly, caused outrage then as some Nigerians interpreted the proposed law as a power grab by the federal government.
Prominent Nigerians who spoke against it included Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, Human Rightts lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.
The bill was again introduced as an executive bill and passed in 2020.
The decision on the bill was rescinded by the House two months after a motion was moved by Ben Mzondu (PDP, Benue).
Mr Mzondu faulted the process of reconsidering the bill, noting that it was not properly passed.
On June 29, the bill was reintroduced by Mr Soli, who promised that it is a reviewed version with input from state governors.
Mr Soli assured his colleagues that he will not be part of any shenanigan that will put any community in Nigeria at disadvantage.
However, IYC who condemned the bill asserted that all the representatives of Niger Delta people in the National Assembly are sleeping. Stressing that, most of the law makers are not even interested in what is happening in the assembly.
The group said that the bill is antithetical to the Niger Delta people especially the Ijaw people, urging the southern national assembly members to rise up to the occasion and begin to awaken the consciousness of their people.
This was made known by the group spokesman, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe on Monday while speaking live on GbaramatuVoice Twitter Space on Monday, August 8, 2022 on the bill in Niger Delta.
He querried why will the bill come at a very suspicious time when the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is almost rounding up. Why the urgency? Why the desperation?
He said; “This bill is highly provocative, and the question is that we have been asking consistently that, why will this bill come at a very suspicious time when the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is almost rounding up. Why the urgency? Why the desperation, why are they so interested in our next in the water resources?
“There are fundamental problems that have bedeviled this country and we have not seen amount of energy the legislatures as put in trying to address in those challenges, especially on the area of security, they don’t do that. The Zamfara is currently mining gold, and paying revenue to their state government until this moment.
“The bill is antithetical to the Niger Delta people especially the Ijaw people. And that is why I said, let the southern national assembly members rise up to the occasion and begin to awaken the consciousness of our people. Because most of them are sleeping.
“It appears that they are not even interested In what happens in the National Assembly. If not or the fact that the speaker of the house of representatives could point out the inability of the northern law makers to publish this bill for every members of the national assembly to look at it and also contribute. Nobody will even know that such bill is even in existence.
“They smuggled this bill into the national assembly and wanted to have an expeditious passage. They are even threatening that if the speaker of the House of Representatives stand on their way In the passage of this obnoxious bill, they will get him impeached. That is an height of desperation on the northern legislators.
“It is clearly an agenda to drain out God given resources, the way they do on the oil gas resources that has been given to us by God. And especially now that we are advocating for restructuring Nigeria, power should be dissolved, there should be devolution of power, you cannot at this time introduce this bill. For there is no transparency in the bill.
“There is no water resources in the North if we are talking about water, everybody know that in this country, that water resources is domicile in the southern part of the country and especially the Niger Delta region and Ijaw nation in particular. As far as we are concern, if they go ahead to force this bill on our people, it will create serious crisis and tension in the country.
“It is clear that part of the reason why they are advancing this agenda is because even if this matter is brought to the floor of the house, the southern legislators will not even have the number to kill the bill.
“And so it is stakeholders’ responsibility for all to come together and discuss this bill, because a lot of our people do not know, up till this moment,” he added.
Meanwhile, Barr. Dortimi Kester Tawari, Founder Ijaw Community Law Centre and Convener of the Forum of Ethnic Nationalities of Niger Delta – FENND who also spoke, asserted that the bill’s philosophy is wrong, the history is wrong and the political side is wrong.
Barr. Dortimi who said that the origin is from constitution item 64 of the 2nd schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended, stressed that it has completely failed to take into consideration the basic norms for the formulation of a law which of course has to deal with concerned.” He added.
By Yeigagha Solomon & Jessica Feke