An attempt by the Federal Government to convince the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, to support the controversial National Water Resources Bill, was rebuffed by the two groups.
The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, and a team from his ministry had met in Abuja on Tuesday with the leaderships of AUPCTRE, which is an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and CAPPA which is a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, to secure buy-in for the contentious bill.
AUPCTRE and CAPPA were adamant at the meeting and insisted that the pro-privatisation sections should be removed from the Bill or else it should be trashed.
The labour group and the CSO at the meeting restated their demands for the National Assembly to jettison the National Water Resources Bill 2020, alleging that the bill failed to address human rights issues and does not enjoy the support of Nigerians.
The meeting, which was at the instance of the minister, followed 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.
AUPCTRE and CAPPA had in a press briefing on August 21, 2020, raised fears that the Bill will fling the doors wide open for privatisers to seize the nation’s water resources and had in a joint letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on September 3, 2020, catalogued obnoxious sections of the Bill and how they posed danger to the attainment of the Human Right to Water.
In the last two weeks, civil society and other groups have also criticized the Bill. Notable Nigerians and organisations that have kicked against it include the playwright and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Yinka Odumakin of the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, and the Ijaw Youth Council.
The Bill, with a long title, An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, provide for the equitable and sustainable development management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Ground Water Resources and for related matters, has scaled Second Reading in the current House of Representatives and has been referred to the House Committee on Rules and Business.
AUPCTRE and CAPPA raised concerns about Sections 1, 2, 3, 13, 22, 24, 89, 98, 104, 105 and 107. As well as Sections 109, 110, 120, 121, 125, 129 and 131.
Speaking at the end of the meeting with the minister, National President of AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony said: 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”
Comrade Anthony insisted that the Bill will dispossess Nigerian citizens of their inherited and cultural rights to water and should be discarded immediately
Also speaking, CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor said: The contents of the Bill are against the spirit of the 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 office 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.”