By Adelani Adepegba, Dennis Naku, John Charles and Patrick Odey
The Nigeria Labour Congress has cautioned the National Assembly leadership against resurrecting or passing the Water Resources Bill into law “because of the danger it portends to national unity.”
The congress said the National Assembly should not ambush Nigerians by surreptitiously bringing back the bill, which seeks to vest the control of all water sources across the country in the President.
Recall that there was outrage over the bill in 2018 when the eighth National Assembly was divided over it.
But the bill resurfaced at the present National Assembly as that the House of Representatives on July 23, 2020, referred it to a “committee of the whole,” for third reading and passage.
A playwright and social critic, Prof Wole Soyinka; and organisations such as Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum, had on Thursday warned the Federal Government and the National Assembly against bringing back the bill.
Lending his voice to the national resistance to the bill, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, noted that the bill was earlier rejected in 2018 with good reasons.
Wabba, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, titled, ‘Do not ambush Nigerians,’ said the nation had enough challenges than to court fresh and costly controversy.
He stated, “Information in the public domain has it that the National Assembly leadership is working surreptitiously with vested interests outside the assembly to pass the bill without due legislative process.
“Although the National Assembly is constitutionally vested with law-making, we warn against the National Assembly ambushing Nigerians.
“We equally warn against legislative abuse or betrayal of Nigerians as this is what it will amount to if the bill is passed or caused to be passed without public engagement and scrutiny. Already, the sentiments expressed against this bill are too grave to be brushed off.”
Against the backdrop of the strong sentiments expressed against the bill from nearly all sections of the country, the NLC president strongly advised that the bill should not be resurrected.
He said, “In the light of this, we state unambiguously that the National Assembly should listen to the voice of reason by resting this bill.
“As a pan-Nigerian organisation, we would continue to work assiduously for unity, development, justice and accountable leadership,” the statement noted.
But a board of trustees of the Pan Niger Delta Forum and National Coordinator, South-South Elders Forum, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe in an interview with The PUNCH, said the Niger Delta region was against the bill.
Sara-Igbe said, “The Niger Delta is against it. We will not support it at all. They should allow our local authorities to control our water, not national.”
Also, the Akwa Ibom State Government said it was totally and completely opposed to the water resources bill.
The state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong, in a chat with The PUNCH, said the state government had instructed members of the National Assembly to reject the bill
On his part, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, vowed to sue the National Assembly members if the bill was passed.
Ortom lamented the recycling policies aimed to help herdsmen.
He stated, “Let me say this, if the National Assembly passes the Water Resources Bill which was sent as an executive bill by the President, I will take them to court. Water Bill will not be accepted here in Benue State.”
Culled from PUNCH.