Relief as Governors Shoot Down Controversial Water Resources Bill

*Nigeria's National Assembly complex, Abuja.
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*States to review, present common position to federal government

By Our Reporter

State governors have resolved to review the contentious Water Resources Bill in order to present a common position to the federal government.

The Bill has continued to generate controversy as some prominent socio- cultural groups have rejected it.

The Bill intends to empower the Minister of Water Resources to formulate policies and strategies to manage Nigeria’s water resources, and disallow any entity from commencing borehole drilling business without a government licence, while its regulations will be binding and enforceable under the law.

The proposed law will set up a Water Resources Regulatory Commission that will, among other things, issue licences to persons or corporate organisations to undertake abstractions of surface and ground waters, public and private irrigation, drainage systems, and diversion or impoundment of water for mining purposes.

The controversial bill also seeks to give powers to the minister to grant permission for construction and operation of hydraulic structures for rivers, dams, water intake barrages or artificial bars across rivers, groynes or barriers to check erosion, water bed and bank stabilisation dykes or trenches, polders or reclaimed land, wells, discharge of industrial and agricultural wastes into water bodies, sand dredging and rock removals in rivers.

But in a communique issued Thursday after a teleconference meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum ( NGF), Ekiti State Governor and chairman of the forum, Kayode Fayemi,  said all the water related bills will be reviewed by the executive council and Attorneys-General of states.

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, had earlier briefed the Forum on the National Water Resources Bill 2020.

Adamu during his presentation, emphasized that  the  basic  philosophy  behind  the  Bill  is  to  integrate  water resources  management  in  the  country  by  bringing  all  laws  related  to  water resources management into one consolidated code.

According to him,  the new Bill is consistent  with  the  Land  Use  Act,  and  will  promote  equitable development, management, use  and  conservation  of  Nigeria’s  surface  and  groundwater resources.

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The communique stated that “Forum  members  while  commending  the  Minister  of  Water  Resources  for taking  an  integrated  approach  on  water  resource  management  as  a  national  good, resolved  that  the  proposed  Bill  and  other  relevant  laws  including  the  River  Basins Development Authorities Act 2004; the Natural Water  Resources Act 2004; and  the Nigeria Hydrological Resources Act 2004 will be reviewed by their Attorneys General and Executive Councils of States after which a common position of States will be presented to Water Resources.”

The Forum also resolved to play  a strategic role in the forthcoming 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #26) which, is designed to focus on the sub-nationals as the frontiers for economic  growth  and  development  in  the  country.

According to Fayemi, “it  will  bring  together  local  and global  policy  makers,  business  leaders,  development  partners  and  scholars  to  lead and  participate  in  sessions  that  will  focus  on  building  strategic  partnerships  and cooperation between governments, business enterprises and the civil society.”

The NGF also commended the  World  Bank  for  facilitating  ongoing  activities  geared  towards accelerating the uptake of the CARES programme during the COVID-19 period and meet with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the terms of the programme.

Fayemi said: “Schedule  a  more  intensive  session  on  economic  management  with  their Commissioners of Finance and Budget and Planning on the back of the presentation of Rewane Bismarck Rewane member   of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council.

“Partner with KAINOS Edge Consulting in conducting a Household Survey designed to gather data, analyze, generate and publish insights on the household economy across  the  36  States  of  Nigeria  and  the  FCT.  This  Survey  will  cover  household demographics, decision-making and wellbeing characteristics,” he stated.

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