CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Analysis: Why Nigerians Must Reject the Latest Water Resources Bill

On 30th June 2022, information filtered into the public space that the Federal Government of Nigeria had once again re-submitted the National Water Resources Bill which was widely criticized and rejected by Nigerians in 2019 and 2020 respectively. The Bill which has continuously been a subject matter of controversy and unease was widely rejected and eventually jettisoned by the National Assembly earlier on September 29, 2021.[spacer height=”25px”]

But by Wednesday, June 29, 2022, lawmakers in the House of Representatives had embarked on a first reading of the same Bill which was re-presented to the legislature by the Executive, and sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli of Katsina State.[spacer height=”25px”]

Although the sponsors of the Bill claim its earlier draconian provisions have been revised based on feedback received and the intense public outcry it generated when it first appeared in the legislature, CAPPA’s clause-by-clause analysis of the Bill reveals otherwise.[spacer height=”25px”]

SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL AND OUR OBSERVATIONS[spacer height=”25px”]

  1. The Bill provides for the establishment of a Water Resources Regulatory Commission which will be charged with the responsibility for the regulation of national water resources of Nigeria. This provision will create not only create a duplication of regulatory functions but also give room for unnecessary inter-body conflicts as the Ministry of Water Resources’ statutory responsibilities already takes care of the proposed duties of the Commission. In fact, the creation of this Commission will amount to a waste of taxpayers’ monies![spacer height=”25px”]
  2. The Bill empowers the proposed Commission to issue water licenses and monitor the conduct of holders of the licenses to enforce conditions included in the licenses. This is alarming! A federal Commission is being positioned to issue water licenses to water bodies within states and communities. This defeats the spirit of true federalism, especially as the management of water resources is not an item on the exclusive legislative list of the government.[spacer height=”25px”]
  3. The Bill shields any employee of the Commission or the Commissioner from any liability or damage caused in the discharge of duties. Tyranny can be easily expected as one of the codes of conduct of this Commission as exemption from accountability will promote a reign of oppression and state-sanctioned victimization of innocent citizens.[spacer height=”25px”]
  4. The Bill empowers the Commission to grant or refuse an application for the issue of a license for any reason the Commission considers appropriate in relation to its obligations. It is bad enough that Nigerians will have to apply for a license before using water, even more worrisome, is the unfettered powers this provision grants to the Commission to subject Nigerians to the whims and caprices of state officials.[spacer height=”25px”]

The Bill grants emergency powers to the Commission among other capacities to ‘‘direct a person who has a supply of water in excess of his needs for domestic purposes to reduce the amount he is permitted to extract under the terms of any license or general authorization’’ including ‘’authorize the entry on to any land by officers or agents of the Commission and such other measures at the Commission may consider necessary to overcome the shortage of water…’’ and ‘‘may take possession of the water supply and operate any works of the person concerned for the drawing, diversion, or use of water… during the period of the order’’. It is ridiculous for a Commission to assume the water needs of citizens and what constitutes an excess in the domestic use of water. Moreso, the proposed emergency powers will amount to a breach of peaceful enjoyment of private property and privacy of citizens.  Giving officers of a Commission unrestricted access to a private citizen’s compound is overreaching. It could easily lead to the arbitrary exercise of duty and sometimes unauthorized intrusion and invasion of peoples properties.[spacer height=”25px”]

READ THE FULL ANALYSIS OF THE BILL HERE

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