National Water Resources Bill won’t trigger water wars, FG assures

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on telegram
Share on pinterest

……Urges Nigerians to avail themselves of bill’s provisions

By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

The Federal government on Tuesday allayed the fears in some quarters that the National Water Resources Bill 2020 is aimed at taking the resources of a certain part of the country for the use of herders.
The government also categorically denied that it is seeking to implement RUGA by subterfuge through the bill.
While addressing a joint press conference in Abuja, the
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai and his Water Resources counterpart, Engr Suleiman Adamu described as “misrepresentation of the contents and intent of the
Bill” to claim that it is capable of triggering ‘water wars’ .
While emphatically saying that the bill is not a President Muhammadu Buhari’s bill, the Ministers explained that it had been drafted even before the President came to office, stressing that it is for the well being of the generality of Nigerians.
The Bill, the Ministers pointed out, reiterates the fact that Land can only be acquired by any of the institutions established in accordance with the Land Use Act, adding that almost all the Institutions have State Representatives.
The Federal government further explained that the bill in question is not a Physical Planning Bill, stressing that it only relates to the management of water resources that crosses state boundaries.
Stating that ‘Water Wars’ are more likely to happen between countries, while internal conflicts on water occur typically between states in a country, the government declared, “So it is not correct to say the Bill is capable of triggering ‘water wars’.
Rather, the government stated that the Bill contains provisions that will ensure that internal conflict on water is averted.
The Ministers declared that many of those condemning the National Water Resources Bill 2020 either have not read it or do not understand its provisions.
They added, “Also, we cannot rule out deliberate mischief by some of those who have been portraying the Bill as a new source of conflict”, they said.
Continuing, they added, “We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever”
The Ministers said, “Critics contend that with the Bill, the Federal Government is poised to take over the nation’s water resources by licensing and commercializing the use of water.
“Our Response: This is not the intention, because the current Water Resources Act, 2004 (made pursuant to the Constitution) already makes provision for this.
“This Bill is only trying to provide a framework for implementing that provision.
“The Regulatory provisions of the Bill require that commercial borehole drillers obtain a Licence.
“The Code of Practice for Water Well Drillers issued by the Standards
Organization of Nigeria (SON) and the NWRI in 2010 already requires
this. The Code provides Technical requirements that a driller must possess to undertake drilling as well as information on each such borehole to be provided to the national database.
“That Code however requires the License to be issued by the NWRI in Kaduna. This Bill provides for such Licenses to now be issued by the States, under delegation of the National regulator, the Water Resources Regulatory Commission”, they said.
The Federal government pointed out that borehole regulation is an international standard for abstraction of large volumes of water, adding that most countries in Africa, and almost every developed country, regulates commercial abstraction.
Continuing, the Ministers said, “It is also important to note that there is no requirement for licensing domestic abstraction.
“Regulating abstraction of large volumes of water is necessary, because groundwater abstraction is an activity that has environmental and ecological impact.
“Critics contend that with the Bill, Nigerians will be prevented
from access to potable water, hinging their argument on Section 75 which states that ‘’subject to the provisions of this Bill, no borehole driller, whether corporate or individual, shall commence borehole drilling business in Nigeria unless such driller has been
issued a Water Well Driller’s licence by the Commission’’.
“Our Response: Why is a technically-competent driller afraid of obtaining a Licence? It is a Licence to practice, just as a medical Licence or any other Licence to be obtained by people professing to have the technical competence to do something.
“ Most collapsed boreholes are drilled by charlatans. It is therefore incumbent on the government to prevent this.
“On the provision of potable water, this is the responsibility of State governments.
“The National Policy for water resources prioritizes abstraction for water treatment in the allocation of water use. This means that abstraction quantities required by state water Boards are given priority in water allocation and the financing of infrastructure by the Federal government for water development. Boreholes are the same. ‘Sections 76-79 of the Bill clearly provides that the States will undertake this regulation under a national framework provided by the regulator to ensure homogenous policy implementation”, they said.
The Minister said further, “Critics contend that the Bill is illegal, citing the Supreme Court which held that the power of physical planning in any state of the Federation is exclusively vested in the state government and that the National Assembly lacks power to legislate on the physical planning outside the FCT.
“Our Response: Well, this is not a Physical Planning Bill. This Bill only relates to the management of water resources that crosses state boundaries. The Constitution already grants the Federal Legislature this responsibility (item 64, Exclusive Legislative List, CFRN 1999).
“The Water Resources Act, 2004 lists the water bodies to which the Act applies. This is maintained in the Bill. The interaction of the Federal government with the State is only as it concerns the management of the inter-state water that passes through the State.
“The Bill does not apply to water that is wholly within the boundaries of a State. The Bill also does not apply to Land. It clearly states that Land required by any of the institutions established in the Bill will be obtained in accordance with the Land Use Act (i.e with Governor’s consent).
Stating that ‘Water Wars’ are more likely to happen between countries, while internal conflicts on water occur typically between states in a country, the government declared, “So it is not correct to say the Bill is capable of triggering ‘water wars’.
Rather, the government stated that the Bill contains provisions that will ensure that internal conflict on water is averted.
The Ministers declared that many of those condemning the National Water Resources Bill 2020 either have not read it or do not understand its provisions.
They added, “Also, we cannot rule out deliberate mischief by some of those who have been portraying the Bill as a new source of conflict.
“We are therefore using this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill to avoid being misled by those who have chosen to politicize it”, the government said.

Read the original article HERE

Related Articles

Leave a Reply