Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has said the non-passage of the controversial National Water Resources Bill currently before the National Assembly, has made Nigeria a laughing stock before foreign investors and the international community.
Adamu who stated this in Abuja at a media briefing explained that foreign investors are interested to invest in the Nigerian water resources sector, but there is no legal framework for them to work with.
It would be recalled that the introduction of the National Water Resources Bill at the National Assembly for consideration and passage has been embroiled in crises and controversies, as a cross-section of Nigerians has vehemently opposed the Bill.
The House of Representatives November 2017 passed the Bill, however, concerns were raised by the Senate in 2018, which led to the suspension of the Bill.
The Bill has been returned to the 9th National Assembly in 2021, precisely the House of Representatives, after due consultations with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and other critical stakeholders as the latest version of the Bill, according to the minister, has fully addressed their concerns and observations.
Adamu, an engineer explained that the proposed bill was designed to address the water needs of the country both present and future, adding that the deliberate falsehood being peddled by some persons who have not acquainted themselves with the bill, was borne out of lack of patriotism.
While countering some of the falsehoods being alleged as part of the provisions of the proposed bill, the Minister said: “There is nowhere in the bill that says that the Federal Government will take over land from any community, or State, not even an inch.
“The bill further reduces the powers of the minister and delegates them to the various commissions to manage national water resources.”
Commenting on the relevance of the Bill, Adamu said: “I am convinced beyond any doubt that the National Water Resources Bill is relevant and appropriate for Nigeria given the fact that more than 80 percent of the nations around the world have subscribed to the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which seeks to promote citizens’ rights, eliminate hindrances to the management of water as an economic resource and help to empower the people.”
Giving an overview of the Bill, he explained that National Water Resources Bill has not introduced significantly new items to the already existing and operational Water Laws in Nigeria.
“The Bill before the National Assembly is simply an amalgamation of already existing Water Resources laws that are presently being used to develop and manage Nigeria’s Water Resources as contained in the following:
Water Resources Act, Cap W2LFN 2004; The River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9LFN 2004;
The Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004, and National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83LFN 2004.
“These laws are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends and best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
“The purpose of the National Water Resources Bill is to establish a regulatory framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria through the provision of equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface and groundwater.
“The overall objective of this amalgamation is for efficient management of the Water Resources Sector for the Economic Development of Nigeria and wellbeing of its citizens to ensure that the nation’s interstate water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, and managed in ways which take into account amongst other factors citizens’ right of access to safe water and basic sanitation; meeting the basic human needs of present and future generations and promoting equitable and affordable access to water and reducing poverty.”
In his remarks, Mr. Francis Uzoma, President of the Drillers Association of Nigeria, lent the support of the association to the passage of the Bill currently before the National Assembly.
Uzoma said the enactment of the Bill into law would sanitise the operations in the water sector, create jobs, and standardise the sector.
He pointed out that the indiscriminate drilling of boreholes would be checked as an Independent Regulatory Commission would be established to check infractions.
Engr. Benson Ajisegiri, a retired Director of Water Supply, posited that the passage of the Bill into law would bring peace and development to the people.
He, therefore, urged all well-meaning Nigerians to support the National Assembly in the passage of the Bill into law.