BusinessDay

‘Reps will reject water resources bill with obnoxious provisions’

The House of Representatives will again reject the controversial water resources bill if the new version presently before the parliament has obnoxious provisions.

Benjamin Kalu, spokesperson and chairman of the House committee on media and public affairs, said this while addressing journalists in Abuja.

The water resources bill which failed to sail through in the 7th, and 8th assembly and the current 9th assembly was reintroduced last week and sparked negative reactions from some lawmakers.

When the new bill sponsored by Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) was read for the first time, Mark Gbillah (PDP, Benue) raised a point of order, reminding the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila that the legislation had generated a controversy previously and should not be brought back.

Gbillah said: “We wonder why this issue is still being represented on the floor of the House. Some of us are not comfortable, nor in support of this bill.”

But Gbajabiamila said the sponsor and chairman of water resources committees, Soli assured him that contentious issues in the former bill have been addressed in this new one.

“I asked the chairman the same thing and he told me that the issues that were raised then have been addressed by all the governors. We live in a diverse country and everybody’s sensitivity should be taken into consideration. The governors govern their states and they know what affects them.”

Kalu told journalists that there must be something that made the governor’s forum ask their representatives not to support the bill.

Read also: Contending the scourge of water shortage in Nigeria and beyond

He said: “If that has been cured and the title remains the same, the bill might pass if the concern has been cured. But if it is a replica of what was presented and rejected I am sure that what happened before would happen again.

“It is during a second hearing that we debate bills and somebody mentioned a point of order that bills that have been rejected by a particular assembly are not allowed to come back in that assembly, until the next assembly. I am yet to look at that. But if that is the position of the law guiding us then it would stay. That you would not know until during debate.

“Let us wait. In line with Mr Speaker, who said that the sponsor of the bill is allowed to circulate the lead debate and bill contents to members before it is pencilled down for second reading.

“So that means the presiding officer wants members to analyse the bill and know whether it is the same like before or a different bill taking care of the issues but having the same title.”

The earlier bill had sought to transfer the control of water resources from the states to the Federal Government which governors and other stakeholders rejected.

The proposed legislation was opposed due to some of its provisions such as those in clause 13 which provided that: “In implementing the principles under subsection (2) of this section, the institutions established under this act shall promote integrated water resources management and the coordinated management of land and water resources, surface water and groundwater resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.”

Also section 2(1) of the bill provided that: “All surface water and groundwater, wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people,’’ while Section 120 of the bill makes it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole in their homes”.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.