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ThursdayRapAround: Controversial Water Resources Bill: In Whose Interest?



By Michael Ayotunde
Everything about Nigeria’s 9th National Assembly revolves around controversy.
From being passive chambers to chief abusers of amended Electoral Act, follow-follow legislators, knack for unbridled borrowing, padded budgeting, absentee legislators, power grabbers and political jobbers.

In fact, the list is endless.
With all intent, the duties and or roles performed by the National Assembly are clearly spelt out.
Specifically, the National Assembly is constitutionally vested with several functions. Prominent among them are lawmaking, representation, oversight and a host of others.
It is not clear as to what extent these fundamental roles have been followed through.
It’s with total dismay, however that we read on the pages of newspapers that some caucus at the House of Representatives, the very people who are ordinarily expected to defend and protect the interest of the Nigerian people, were determined to foist an unpopular, kangaroo legislation on hapless Nigerians.
It is more worrisome that this same legislation, the Water Resource Bill, had earlier been rejected due to its anti-people tendencies and following massive outcry against it, thereby leaving the 8th Assembly with no other option other than to throw the bill away.

And the 9th Assembly, notorious for controversy, has gone to reactivate it.

Sickening that this is happening at a time people are clamouring for true federalism and genuine restructuring.
It was reported that Northern lawmakers are bent on making sure the Water Resources Bill succeeds. As such, they have already asked the Clerk of the House to prepare an ‘addendum’ and plan to take their counterparts from the Southern part of the country unawares, to ensure the bill successfully passes second reading.
The hatchet job, according to an insider source, will involve impeaching Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House if he fails to play along. Even though this has been refuted, it beats one’s imagination what necessitated this ugly move by the northern caucus and the desperation with which they are following up with the highly controversial agenda.
Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, sponsor of the controversial bill and Chairman, Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli, and his counterpart at the Committee on Rules and Business, Hassan Fulata, were said to be desperately pushing for the passage of the bill which was rejected by the 8th National Assembly following public outcry.
This has further fuelled speculations that they actually have ulterior motives with the bill. Some sections of the society are particularly worried that the FG already has its hand full and has not been able to dispense justice, fairness and balance in the discharge of its responsibility.  
According to those opposed to the bill, its reintroduction after two earlier failures have necessitated so many questions of the President Buhari Administration’s sense of justice, fairness and equity, especially as regards the question of Nigeria’s indigenous people and resources redistribution, and in context with their water rights.
One of the most contentious aspects of the water bill is Section 2(1), which states that “all surface water and groundwater, wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people.” In a very suspicious manner, the ‘people’ mentioned here was a deliberate attempt to conceal the intended meaning. Someone asked: “Why not Nigerians (and boldly written)?

Could this be one of the clandestine moves to grant some concessions to ‘our brothers’ in the neighbouring countries to aid their destructive businesses, as we usually do from time immemorial?
Suffix to add that past ‘gestures in similar fashion’ may not be unconnected to the root causes of most life-threatening challenges Nigeria is facing today as a nation.
The desperation with which Mr. Adamu and Soli are going about this is nothing short of deliberate, planned annexation of resources further down in some littoral states for the benefit of a certain group of people – same way crude oil annexation was done and now to the detriment of host communities.
 A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.

It’s pertinent to assert here that further subjugation of the nation’s resources for parochial interest be suspended forthwith.

Nigeria has had enough of senseless and thoughtless sabotage in whatever form.
Insecurity in the land is currently at an unimaginable cresendo. So, purveyors of divisive tendencies should desist from heating up the polity with an ill-conceived agenda.

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