The Federal Ministry of Water Resources has stated that it will not be deterred by backlash on the proposed Water Resources Bill, adding that the reforms in the water resources sector are to reposition it to where it is supposed to be.
This was disclosed by the Minister, Mr. Suleiman Adamu at a news conference in Abuja, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The Bill when introduced 2 years ago, was the subject of much debate, as many Nigerians called it a resource stealing act and interpreted the proposed law as a plot to grab the waterways and hand same to Fulani pastoralists.
What the Ministry is saying
The Minister stated the bill being represented to the National Assembly had been reviewed by water resources experts and had all grey areas addressed.
He added that changes in the reviewed bill include the institutionalisation of an independent regulatory body to help reposition the water sector to aid cost recovery and improve the irrigation sector.
“As far as we are concerned, our reforms in the water resources sector is to reposition it to where it is supposed to be, and that is our target.
“We are not mindful of the antics of the antagonism against this bill, but we remain committed and focused while keeping our eyes on the ball to ensure that we do all that is necessary for the benefit of Nigerians.
“We will not be deterred, we will continue to remain focused and I have to say at the end of the day, it is not the colour of the article or the false narratives in the media.
“The sponsored articles against this bill will not determine the decision of the National Assembly,” the minister said.
Adamu noted that the legislature was knowledgeable enough to discern what was best for the nation
The minister said no city in the country enjoyed uninterrupted pipe-borne water, adding that subscribing to sustainable development goals on adequate water supply and sanitation by 2030 meant prioritising access.
He said Nigeria must seek alternative sources of funding for the water resources sector, saying reliance on development partners was not sustainable.
What you should know
The Bill gained backlash in the media recently, as reports stated that the earlier bill had sought to transfer the control of water resources from the states to the Federal Government which governors and other stakeholders rejected.
The proposed legislation was opposed due to some of its provisions such as those in clause 13 which provided that: “In implementing the principles under subsection (2) of this section, the institutions established under this act shall promote integrated water resources management and the coordinated management of land and water resources, surface water and groundwater resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.”
Section 98 of the bill states that “The use of water shall be subject to licensing provisions”. Section 120 of the Bill makes it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole in their homes. Section 107 says a license might be cancelled if the licensee fails to make beneficial use of the water.
Section 2(1) of the Bill says, “All surface water and groundwater wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people.”
Section 104 addresses emergency powers in case of a shortage of water. The bill will empower the government 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 abstract under the terms of any licence or general authorisation.”
These are just a few controversial parts of the Water Resources Bill which attracted uproar amongst Nigerians, leading to its rejection and a subsequent call for a review.
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