No Going Back On Water Resources Bill, FG Tells Nigerians

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Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed
No Going Back On Water Resources Bill, FG Tells Nigerians - Vantage News Nigeria
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

Despite criticisms from many Nigerians, the Federal Government, on Tuesday, said it would go ahead and ensure the passage of the National Water Resources Bill 2020, saying it would be good for the country.

It blasted those opposed to the Water Resources Bill, describing them as persons with access to the media.

The Federal Government said these through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed at a press conference addressed in Abuja with the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu.

Mohammed accused those criticising the bill of lacking good knowledge about the provisions of the bill.

VANTAGE news reported that some prominent Nigerians including the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe have criticised the bill.

According to Ortom, the provisions of the bill were at variance with the Land Use Act, and that the bill was a “disguised land-grabbing legislation designed to grant pastoralists unhindered access to river basins, adjacent marine and coastal environments across the country.”

On his part, Senator Abaribe, had said that even though the Bill is yet to surface on the floor of the Senate, it would not be allowed to see the light of day when it is eventually presented.

Other notable critic is Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka described the reintroduction of the bill as a plot by the Buhari’s administration to seize people’s water resources for Fulani herdsmen.

Adamu during the conference, revealed that the bill has never been rejected by the current National Assembly.

While answering questions, Mohammed said that nothing concerns the people of his village or people of other villages with this bill, noting that it’s only those with access to media and the intent to make mischief that are criticising the bill.

He appealed to Nigerians to avail themselves of the provisions of the bill to avoid being misled by those he described as mischief makers that have decided to politicise it.

Mohammed said that when passed, the bill will provide for the enhancement of the Nigeria’s water sector in line with global best practices.

Listing the existing laws that made up the bill as the Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004; the River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004; the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004; and the National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004, Mohammed stated that they are all being repackaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020.

He noted that the repackaging was necessary because of the need to meet up with current global trends and best practices in integrated water resources management.

Mohammed said the bill will ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of everyone.

Reacting to the view of many that the Federal Government would take over the nation’s water resources by licensing and commercialising the use of water, he said that was not FG’s intention, noting that the bill is only trying to provide a framework for implementing that provision because the current Water Resources Act, 2004 already makes provision for such.

He also told critics who argue that the bill will prevent Nigerians from accessing potable water that a competent driller should not be afraid of obtaining a licence from the government.

On the legality and right of the FG to carry on with the bill despite critics sighting a Supreme Court judgement which vested the power of physical planning on state governments, Mohammed said that the bill is not a physical planning bill.

He guaranteed communities on river banks of undisturbed access to use of water as stated in Section 3 of the bill while responding to criticism that the bill would greatly prevent states, local government authorities, and individuals from making use of water in their backyards.

While responding to criticism that the bill is a way of giving water to herdsmen and a subtle way of implementing Ruga, he explained that it is not even possible as the bill reiterates the fact that land can only be acquired by any of the institutions established in accordance with the Land Use Act.

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