• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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FG’s push for water resources bill insensitive to plight of Nigerians – Afenifere

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The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation – Afenifere, has described the insistence of the Federal Government to pass the repeatedly rejected Water Resources Bill into law as another instance of how the government is often hell-bent on what the majority of Nigerians frown at while neglecting the ones the citizens yearn for.

Afenifere stated this in a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Jare Ajayi, while reacting to the latest statement by the minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu.

Speaking during a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum last week in Abuja, Adamu had said, among other things, that the bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and groundwater for the use of all Nigerians.

That it will also ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, and managed in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all Nigerians.

The minister vowed that his ministry will continue to pursue the passage of the bill into law.

But taking a swipe at this position on Thursday, Afenifere noted that the minister’s assertion smacks of arrogance, disdain for the people, and insensitivity to things that are of immediate concern to Nigerians.

The Afenifere spokesman said it was unbecoming of a public officer to describe Nigerians as hysterical simply because they express their displeasure with a government policy, adding that the minister was only trying to disguise the real intention behind the insistence.

Ajayi added that what made the insistence by the minister objectionable was the hypocrisy and the false impression that the government was committed to serving the people’s interest.

He demised this on the basis of hypocrisy, arguing that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, was directly under the Federal Government.

Ajayi wondered how the Federal Government has efficiently utilised the ‘surface and ground water’ of FCT that is directly under its control for the benefit of Abuja residents.

Read also: ‘Reps will reject water resources bill with obnoxious provisions’

The Afenifere reiterated that just as it said in its comment on this same issue on July 22, 2022, the real intention of the Federal Government was to have littoral lands available for pastoralists for whom it failed to secure lands under the rejected RUGA and its failed attempt to impose the Indigene-ship Law on the people.

According to the statement, “given the fact that the attempts to pass this bill have been consistently rejected since its first mention in 2020 during the 8th National Assembly, it ought to dawn on the Federal Government that Nigerians are not ready to accept the bill in its present form.

“The minister should inform Nigerians of instances where state governments who have control over the lands in their respective areas denied the Federal Government the opportunity to use land or water resources for the genuine benefit of the people.

“It is the latter that is impeding the state governments. A typical example that can readily be cited is Ikere Gorge Dam near Iseyin in Oyo State. For about 40 years now, the Federal Government had been on it. All entreaties by the people of Oke Ogun and Oyo State government to get the FG to complete the project had fallen on deaf ears.

“Even governments of the then Western State and later Oyo State made efforts to do it, yet the FG denied them. The people and the nation have been the loser for it.”

“The Ikere Gorge Dam project was to provide electricity, irrigation, aquatic agriculture among others for about four states in the southwest of the country and contribute electricity to the national grid.

The statement further added: “What we are saying is that the Federal Government has not demonstrated good faith and deed in areas within its control. So how can we trust it with those under the purvey of state and local governments?”

“Were the present administration truly committed to the best interest of the majority of Nigerians, issues that would be of major concern to it would be the insecurity that has made life unbearable for a lot of people, collapsing economy that has made nonsense of the people’s welfare and the ignoble state of social and infrastructural facilities in the country.

“The government’s resorting to creating rival bodies instead of addressing the issues raised by the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU) is a clear instance of how this administration is acting as though it did not derive its mandate from the people.

“It is only in a situation where a people are being governed in a hegemonic and conquered manner that this type of treatment operates,” the Afenifere said.