Water Resources Bill: Water rights groups reiterate opposition to bill, say it’s “anti-people”

WATER rights groups have restated their demands by asking the National Assembly to refrain from passing into law the National Water Resources Bill, because of the danger it portends to the security of the nation’s water resources.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by Jakpor Philip, Director of Programmes of the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA after a meeting with Suleiman Hussein Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, in Abuja on Tuesday.

The meeting, at the instance of the minister, follows a nation-wide criticism that has trailed the re-emergence of the bill in the current Assembly after it failed to secure concurrent passage by both Houses in the Eighth Assembly in 2018.

Also present at the meeting were representatives of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE.

“The contents of the bill are against the spirit of July 28, 2010, United Nations General Assembly Resolution which recognized in unmistakable terms, the human right to water and sanitation.

“Our position remains unchanged, President Buhari should use his good offices to recall this contentious bill from the legislative quarters and kick-start a fresh process which will entail consultation and input from Nigerians from the beginning through the entire process at the National Assembly,” the statement read.

The rights groups’ position is coming on the heels of Nigeria’s Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, criticism of the move by both the executive and legislative arms to “sneak” the bill into law.

Other vocal proponents against the bill include Yinka Odumakin of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, and the Ijaw Youth Council, amongst others.

Civil society groups across the country have also criticised the bill, stating it would breach citizens’ right to water.

Controversial parts of the law include several sections that vest ownership of water bodies on the federal government and it mandates citizens to get federal permission before they can drill boreholes in their homes or businesses despite the government’s inability to provide potable water to the majority of its citizens.

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AUPCTRE and CAPPA had earlier raised fears that the bill will fling the doors wide open for privatisers to seize the nation’s water resources.

Both organisations in a joint letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on September 3, listed sections of the bill considered obnoxious and how they posed danger to the attainment of the human right to water.

Benjamin Anthony, National President of AUPCTRE at the end of the meeting said the contentious provisions of the bill make it an anti-people bill.

“Our meeting with the Minister of Water Resources was very frank. The minister advanced reasons why the bill should pass but we drew his attention to the contentious clauses that must be addressed.

“We restate our opposition to this anti-people Bill and urge the National Assembly to trash it. The bill fails to address human rights issues and does not enjoy the support of Nigerians,” he said.

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