The National Water Resources Bill, 2020, will be thoroughly reviewed by the Attorney-General and Executive Council of each state before a unanimous decision is made on the bill, the Nigeria Governors Forum has said.
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 subjected to the same scrutiny.
This resolution was reached at the NGF’s 17th teleconference meeting after a presentation by the minister on the bill and related issues.
The minister, according to a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, emphasised 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.
“He noted that 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.
“They 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 Minister,” it read.
The NGF also hailed Mr Adamu for taking an integrated approach on water resource management as a national good.
The bill has generated controversy since its reintroduction at the House of Representatives and many Nigerians, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, have frowned at some sections of the bill which, they said, will breach Nigerians’ right to water.
Some of these Sections include 98 which states that “the use of water shall be subject to licencing provisions” and Section 107 which states that a licence may be cancelled if the licensee “fails to make beneficial use of the water.”
Also, Section 120 of the legislation makes it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole in their homes.
Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against signing the bill.
“The basic facilitator of human existence, water – forget for now all about streams of righteousness – is to become exclusive to one centralized authority.
“What next for the exclusive list? The rains? I declare myself in full agreement with virtually every pronouncement of alarm, outrage, opprobrium and repudiation that has been heaped upon this bill and its parentage, both at its first outing, and since this recent re-emergence,” he said.
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