• Sunday, December 03, 2023
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Senate to revisit Water Resource Bill


There are strong indications that the Ninth Senate would revisit the controversial National Water Resources Bill, earlier rejected by the Eighth Senate.

Specifically, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, called on the Executive to re-present the bill to the Ninth National Assembly for legislative approval.

Lawan spoke on Monday in Abuja during the Senate screening of a ministerial nominee, Suleiman Adamu.

The Jigawa State nominee was the immediate past Minister of State for Water Resources.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2017 forwarded the controversial bill to the Eighth National Assembly. The bill sought to concentrate the control of water resources under the Federal Government.

The proposed legislation was presented by the then Senate Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan, as it was customary for executive bills.

But in May 2018, the proposed legislation was stepped down during the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Water Resources, as senators were divided along party, religious and ethnic lines.

While northern senators, predominantly APC senators and Muslims, had supported the bill and its objectives, their southern counterparts, mostly Christians and PDP lawmakers, were strongly against it.

Opponents of the bill had pointed out that if passed into law, it would further centralise power and the nation’s resources. This, they argued, would counter the current move towards devolution of powers.

They criticised the move to create new Federal Government bodies to take over the responsibilities of the states on the water resources within their territories.

But speaking after the screening of Adamu on Monday, Lawan accused a former PDP senator who is now an APC chieftain and ministerial nominee, of sponsoring media reports to oppose the bill then.

Although Lawan did not mention the name of the senator, former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, led other opposition lawmakers to reject the bill on the floor of the chamber.

BusinessDay reports that Akpabio was last week screened by the Senate as a ministerial nominee.

Lawan said: “Actually, Water Resources Bill was turned down unfortunately controversially by a Senator and now he is on the side of government.

“I will just advise the honourable minister designate because I sponsored the bill on behalf of the Federal Government.

“I think at that time because maybe simple opposition somehow created a story around the bill.

“Then the bill was opposed and we tried to manage the situation and we couldn’t. Now that person is going to work for this bill to be passed. So you work with him, since he is going to be in the same cabinet with you”.

The Senate President canvassed for the reintroduction of the bill, adding that it would lead to a “better managed water resources environment”.