CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Banky W Expresses Solidarity with ‘‘Our Water Our Right’’ Movement

As part of its strategic engagements with key stakeholders during the 2022 Africa Water Week of Action against Privatization, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) on October 22, 2022, took the advocacy for water justice to the doorsteps of Mr. Olubankole Wellington (Banky W), celebrity musician, and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate for House of Representatives, Eti-Osa federal constituency, Lagos State. The engagement with Mr. Bankole by CAPPA’s trio of Phillip Jakpor, Director of Programmes, Aderonke Ige, and Tunji Buhari, Associate Directors, feeds into CAPPA’s broad agenda of bolstering the social contract between government and citizens as Nigeria prepares for its general elections in February 2023.[spacer height=”25px”]

During the meeting, three major things were highlighted to Mr. Olubankole – the concerns of communities and citizens’ rejection of proposals to privatize water resources in Lagos State, the inherent dangers in the proposed National Water Resources Bill and CAPPA’s clause-by-clause analysis of it, and the need to build connection and reach consensus on issues that can promote good governance in Lagos State.[spacer height=”25px”]

 

In his opening remark, Phillip Jakpor, CAPPA’s Director of Programmes, gave a brief introduction of the Our Water Our Right (OWOR) campaign. The OWOR campaign was born in 2014 when water justice campaigners got a wind of plans by the Lagos State government to privatize the state’s water resources under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. Water activists in the state mobilized quickly and launched strings of campaigns that opposed water privatization whilst citing countries like Jakarta, India, and Cameroun that had hitherto experimented with the idea but opted out and are now embracing municipalization because the privatization model of water governance failed to guarantee universal access for all.[spacer height=”25px”]

In the end, the campaign ultimately laid to rest, plans by state authorities to privatize water. Buoyed by its success, the OWOR campaign which consists of a network of water justice campaigners, civil society organizations, trade unions, and community representatives continues to fight for water democracy in Nigeria with its methods of organizing currently replicated in seven African countries.[spacer height=”25px”]

On her part, Aderonke Ige, CAPPA’s Associate Director, noted that water is a fundamental right that is also recognized by the United Nations’ 2010 Resolution 64/292. The Resolution acknowledges that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights, and therefore urges government to make it available for people. Ige also observed that the proposed National Water Resources Bill put forward by the Nigerian parliament is undemocratic and revealing of plans by state authorities to embark on a national privatization of water.[spacer height=”25px”]

 

When CAPPA and the OWOR group got a wind of the Bill in 2020 when it first made waves in the news, they mobilized social movements, labour activists and communities to kick against the Bill because it contained anti-people clauses that could embolden state authorities to transfer exclusive control of public water resources to the federal government.[spacer height=”25px”]

Olatunji Buhari, CAPPA’s Associate Director revealed that if water became privatized it would lead to tariff hikes, job losses, low water quality and shutoffs for those who cannot afford to pay exorbitant fees for it. Buhari pointed out that CAPPA and the Our Water Our Right allies have provided workable and clear solutions that authorities in Lagos State can explore to solve the state’s perennial water crisis.[spacer height=”25px”]

 

On claims by the state government that it lacked the resources for financing public water, and that PPPs are critical models for driving the sustainability of water infrastructure in Lagos state, Mr. Olatunji insisted that evidence has shown that the best way to fix the water infrastructure is through public finance and not private investors. He suggested that the government can creatively finance public water through innovative fundraising models like:[spacer height=”25px”]

  • Creation of a Water Trust Fund
  • The Increment of budgetary allocation to the water sector
  • Institutionalizing inclusive public participation in the decision-making processes for water governance[spacer height=”25px”]

In conclusion, the CAPPA team thanked Mr. Wellington for taking the bold step to vie for political office and charged him to stay true to his pledges and promises. The CAPPA team also assured him of the organization’s readiness to work with him on areas of shared interest. Copies of CAPPA’s reports on the state of water governance in Africa such as Africa Must Rise and Resist Water Privatization, Lagos Water Crisis: Alternative Roadmaps for Water Sector, and How Acute Water Shortage May Jeopardize COVID-19 Response in Lagos were also presented to Mr. Olubankole and his team.[spacer height=”25px”]

 

At the end of the presentations from the CAPPA team, Mr. Olubankole Wellington and his staff thanked CAPPA for its good work and expressed gratitude for the engagement, especially because it coincided with the period of campaigns ahead of Nigeria’s forthcoming general elections in 2023. The political aspirant promised to review all the documents presented to him, and work with CAPPA to promote water justice, if elected.

 

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