DRAMA AS REPS WITHDRAW WATER BILL AMID CRITICISMS
Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday withdrew the National Water Resources Bill it had earlier passed following heavy criticisms.
The House passed the controversial water bill in July before it went on recess. However, some members of the House, mostly from the South strongly objected to the manner the Bill was passed, claiming that it did was passed through the back door and did not follow due process.
What is the National Water Resources Bill, 2020?
The National Water Resources Bill, 2020 pushes for the Federal Government to take over the management and control all water resources(both over and underground) from state governments.
The National Assembly in 2017 rejected the controversial Bill when President Muhammadu Buhari presented it to the House.
The Bill was re-presented to the House as the National Water Resources Bill 2020.
Speaking against the how the Bill was passed, Rep. Benjamin Mzondu from Benue state argued that the Bill was not gazetted in line with House rules and he, as well as other members of the House, did not see copies of the Bill before they were passed.
He said: “My privilege has been breached because I was denied the opportunity of seeing the Bill before it passed.
“The House Rules is clear and unambiguous, Order 12 Rule 16, 17 and 18 is expressly clear on the gazetting bills.
“Mr Speaker, Hon. colleagues, it is in the effort to eliminate the ‘Element of Surprise’ that the House in its wisdom, included in its Standing Rule, that every Bill must be gazetted and clean copies circulated.
“It is important to note that the word emphasized here, is ‘gazette’, which means appearing in the Bills Journal of the House.
“The words used are clear and unambiguous; they ought to be given their ordinary meaning, as stated.”
The Speaker of the House of Representative Femi Gbajabiamila on Tuesday, September 29, ordered the withdrawal and reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill following due process.
Criticisms have followed the Federal Government’s plan to take management and control of water resources from the state government.
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka condemned the reintroduction of the on National Water Resources 2020 bill to the National Assembly.
He warned that Nigeria would be doomed the controversial Bill is passed into law. According to him, it would hand the president absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has kicked against the Bill, arguing that it was if the Bill is passed, it would put the country’s unity in danger.
Responding to the controversies surrounding the Bill, the federal government has responded stating that there are no hidden agendas with the water bill.
The Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed and the Minister of Water Resources Engr. Suleiman Adamu told newsmen that the Bill was designed to provide “professional and efficient management of all surface and groundwater” for all Nigerians.
“We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever,” the Ministers said in a statement.
The Federal Government said the Bill is an amalgamation of four existing laws: Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004, the River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004, and the National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004.
It claimed that the Water Bill had been modified to conform with current global trends and best practices.