- A new bill from the executive has torn Nigerian Senators across regional divide
- The senators were divided by the bill which seeks for the federal government to control water resources
- While northern senators supported the bill and its objectives, their southern counterparts were opposed to it
An executive bill forwarded to the Nigerian Senate on the control of water resources by the federal government has caused a rift among senators.
The bill which seeks for the concentration of the water resources control threw the senators along regional divides.
Punch reports that while northern senators supported the bill and its objectives, their southern counterparts were opposed to it.
The senators opposed to the bill said if passed into law, the bill will further centralise the power of Nigeria;s resources and thus frustrate the need for the devolution of powers.
The majority leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, made the presentation of the document: ‘A Bill for An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, Provide for the Equitable and Sustainable Redevelopment, Management, Use and Conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Groundwater Resources and for Related Matter.’
The summary of the bill read in part: “This Act repeals the Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004; River Basin Development Act Cap R9 LFN 2004; Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N110A, LFN, 2004; National Water Resources institute Act Cap N83 LFN 2004; and establishes the National Council on Water Resources, Nigeria Water Resources Regulatory Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, and the National Water Resources Institute.”
The bill is expected among others to provide for the regulation, equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface water and groundwater resources.
Reacting to the bill, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi north) however raised an issue with one of the clauses, asking the Senate to properly define ‘bank’ especially where it starts from and the distance it should be from a water body to the shore.
He said: “Otherwise, a lot of conflicts are going to arise. River banks are much more contentious than roads because of agricultural and other activities."
But responding, Barnabas Gemade (APC, Benue northwest), however, dismissed Abdullahi’s fears. He said that while the nature of the road was fixed, a river could increase or decrease in size.
In his opposition, Senate's minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, warned against making a law that would lead to federal government taking over the landed areas of riverine communities. He said these areas includes communities where the water bodies dry off.
Akpabio said: "When they dry off, they become residential. So, it will cause a lot of confusion. We really need to be careful.
"The kind of river we are talking about should be clearly defined. If we want to say that all waters in Nigeria must be legislated upon by the federal government, then we will cause a lot of confusion because there are a lot of communities that depend on small rivers to survive.
“If the banks now belong to the federal government, we are doing what we are not supposed to do; we are centralising power at the centre, we are not devolving powers. We are bringing Nigeria back to a unitary state. We are now making sure that even communities are now dispossessed of their land. Some of those places are natural elongation of the land."
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NAIJ.com previously reported how move to override Buhari's veto on peace corps bill was resisted at the lower chambers of the National Assembly.
It was gathered that most lawmakers who vowed to ensure they veto the president's power on the rejected bill backed out during plenary on Thursday, May 24.
Also sources said these lawmakers who could not risk loosing a return ticket began to back down following pressure from the presidency.
EXCLUSIVE: Be patient with President Buhari, Femi Adesina tells Nigerians on NAIJ.com TV