A bill seeking to change the regulatory framework of Nigeria’s water resources management currently pending in the House of Representatives will worsen the availability and accessibility of water to the common citizens if passed into law.
The Corporate Accountability for Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) made this claim in a statement distributed to newsmen and subsequently asked the national assembly to kill the bill.
The bill which dates back to the eight assembly was dropped but reintroduced in June to the House of Representatives by Sada Soli, a lawmaker from Katsina state and the chairman of the house committee on water resources.
The proposed legislation seeks to establish an act that would provide a regulatory framework for the nation’s water resources.
The bill, which was formerly introduced by the Executive, was passed by the lower house in 2020 but dropped following public outcry.
Among the contentious provisions of the bill is a clause that seeks to bring water resources — both surface and underground — and the banks of the water sources “affecting more than one state”, under the control of the federal government.
Since its reintroduction in the national assembly in June, Nigerians, including civil society organisations (CSO), have kicked against it and have asked the lawmakers to suspend legislative work on the bill.
In a statement issued in Lagos and signed by the Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, CAPPA faulted the reintroduction of the bill, saying the contentious issues in the proposed legislation were not addressed before it was re-presented.
“Contentious sections of the earlier version of the Bill included Section 98 which stated that, ‘the use of water shall be subject to licensing provisions’, Section 120 which made it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole in their homes, and Section 107 which says, a licence might be cancelled if the licensee fails to make “beneficial” use of the water,” the statement reads.
“CAPPA questioned who determines beneficial use of water. Some of the identified problematic provisions in the previous Bill are still recycled in the ‘revised’ version.
“If it becomes law, it will empower the Federal Government to control all water resources in the country such as rivers, streams, lakes, and underground water in all parts of the country. It also makes a strong case for the much-discredited Public Private Partnership (PPP) water privatisation model.”
According to CAPPA, if the bill is allowed to scale through, it will “worsen the availability, accessibility, and affordability of water resources by common citizens”.
“A dysfunctional consequence of this Bill is the establishment of a new Federal Government Commission, Institute and Boards to take over the responsibilities of the States on water resources within the territorial jurisdiction, which is their States, which runs contrary to the spirit of true federalism,” Oluwafemi said.
“It is distasteful that the promoters of the Bill did not consider any of the objections by Nigerians about the draft Bill but only moved them to other sections with the intent to deceive Nigerians,” he said.
“For instance, although ‘promoting public-private partnerships in the delivery of water services’ has been expunged from the Objectives of the Bill under Part 1- Sec 1 (1)(i), the same provision is still retained in Section 13(1)(n) of the Bill”.
“It beats the imagination that the promoters of this Bill want to hastily make it law without due consultation and consideration of the genuine concerns of Nigerians. Again, their ulterior motives are exposed, and Nigerians reject their deception. We want the National Assembly to not just step it down this time, but throw it out in its entirety, kill it.”