The Federal Government (FG) says, contrary to the position of some critics, it has no hidden agenda by pursuing the National Water Resources Bill 2020 before the National Assembly.
The Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu disclosed this on Tuesday, September 22, in Abuja at a joint media briefing to address the misgivings of critics and controversies trailing the bill.
According to the duo, the FG does not intend to foist the controversial Ruga policy on Nigerians nor design to tow partisan or regional lines.
Specifically, Mohammed said the bill predated the Buhari Administration but the FG is pursuing it for efficient management of the water resources sector, economic development, and well-being of Nigerians.
The minister said there is nothing new about the bill being an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws; that have been in existence for a long time.
He said the laws are being re-enacted by the FG; with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends; as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management.
“The Bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and groundwater for the use of the people (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use; irrigation; agricultural purposes; generation of hydro-electric energy; navigation; fisheries; and recreation).
“The Bill will ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons,” he said.
Mohammed noted that many of those criticizing the bill have not read its provisions; thus depending on second-hand information to reach their conclusions.
He said contrary to the position of the critics the government has no intention to take over the nation’s water resources; by licensing and commercializing the use of water.
Mohammed also faulted the position of some critics; that the bill will prevent Nigerians from access to potable water.
The FG further stated that the critics had relied on Section 75 of the bill which states that “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.
“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.
“We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation; and has no hidden agenda whatsoever,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the water resources minister said the bill started in 2004; before the Buhari Administration when stakeholders underscored the need to update the laws guiding water
He said the bill became controversial; and was dragged along political and regional lines when it got to the Senate in 2018.
Adamu reiterated that there is nothing subterraneous about the bill; rather it is meant to empower the citizenry and farmers who are into irrigation.