• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Reps defend National Water Resources Bill, say critics misconceive new law


The House of Representatives has risen in defense of the contentious National Water Resources Bill, arguing that the piece of legislation is meant for the statutory regulation of the use of water across the country and has no negative provisions against States and Local Government Areas.

The National Water Resources Bill which was reintroduced to the 9th Assembly by the Executive after it failed to pass in the 8th Assembly has generated a lot of controversies due to certain provisions that seek to usurp the powers of federating units on water resources and attempt to surreptitiously snatch land for herders.

But the Chairman, House Committee on Water resources, Sada Soli said the criticisms on the bill is borne out of misconception and misunderstanding, hence majority of the people speaking against the legislation do not have a copy and have not read it.

The lawmaker who represents Jibia/Kaita Federal Constituency, Katsina (APC), in an interview with selected journalists in Abuja on Monday explained that the new law is an amalgamation of four old bills one of which is 35 years and have been consolidated and updated in the interest of the country .

He argued that: “Its because people didn’t read the bill. It’s not only about the law, but general life, once you don’t understand something, chances are you will interpret it wrongly and give it a wrong understanding.

“But what I admonish Nigerians, those that are interested is: let them grab a copy and go through it. This bill is a public document. Particularly, let them give it to people in the industry, they’re more likely to understand the advantages of the bill.

“Why? The Bill is not new. Its a combination of four (4) Acts that have been in existence for the past 35 years in this country. So, we’re just consolidating them , improving them to come out with one legislation under the water sector. You’re better off with one law than bringing pieces of legislation under one sector. Its like what the states are doing with health: they bring all health legislation under one roof. Its innovation going around in legislation.

He dismissed the belief and allegation that the bill will give the Federal Government unfettered access to water and land resources belonging to states or local governments.

“When you talk about certain kilometres of land to be ceded, that is not true. Show me which section in the bill said that. This clearly shows that people are not following. Public hearings were conducted, such issues that were raised were taken off the bill. And this provision you’re talking about has been in the Act for the past 35 years when it was talking about river banks” Soli said.

The lawmaker stated that it is totally off the mark to allege that the bill intends to grab land for Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) adding that there is no sinister motive for passing the bill but it is in the interest and for benefit of all Nigerians.

“Water is a common resource to all people. And wherever water is common to the good of all people, it must be subjected to statutory control, whether Federal, State or Local Government. ” he said.