Water Resources Bill: Water Union, CAPPA Write Buhari, Want Proposed Legislation Withdrawn

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The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the National Water Resources Bill 2020 owing to its pro-privatisation and other anti-people provisions.

The New Diplomat had reported that a clause-by-clause analysis of the proposed legislation has been done by both organisations, exposing the dangers it posed to attainment of the Human Right to Water, as declared by the United Nations.

Since its re-emergence at the National Assembly, the bill has continued to draw the ire of Nigerians, the civil society and socio-political groups across the federation.Water Resources Bill cappa

AUPCTRE and CAPPA, in the letter, dated September 3, 2020, addressed to the President Buhari, said the Bill had very disturbing provisions and would impose a privatization agenda on Nigerians with accompanying draconian provisions that was only possible in the military era.

The Bill, with a long title “…An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, provide for the equitable and sustainable development management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface Water and Ground Water Resources and for related matters,” failed to secure concurrent passage by both Houses under the Eighth Assembly in 2018. In the current Assembly, it has scaled Second Reading in the House of Representatives and has been referred to the House Committee on Rules and Business.

In the letter signed by AUPCTRE National President, Comrade Benjamin Anthony and CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, both organisations expressed worry that two years after the same Bill was discarded, it again found its way to the hallowed chambers in an unwholesome manner and without recourse to public opinion and protocols.

They raised concerns on Sections of the bill including: 1, 2, 3, 13, 22, 24, 89, 98, 104, 105 and 107, as well as Sections 109, 110, 120, 121, 125, 129 and 131.

In Section 1 (l) they alerted that though on the surface of the Bill, it appears that Public-private partnership is beneficial and will only apply to infrastructural development of water resources, there was no way private corporations would commit resources to the development of water without a measure of control and ownership.

The groups also explained that Section 24 which gives almost absolute power to a commission to be set up was outrageous, and vests too much power in the same Commission, and therefore subjects activities on water management and control to arbitrariness and the possible political whims and caprices of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

They found Section 104 (7) which subjects anyone who contravenes the law to prison terms ranging from 2-5 years as “arbitrary and against the spirit of human rights.”

According to a statement made available to The New Diplomat by CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor, the two organisations insisted that if the Bill scales through with its current intent and imperfections, it would result in dispossessing Nigerian citizens of their inherited and cultural rights to water and that it was against the spirit of the July 28, 2010 United Nations General Assembly Resolution which recognized in explicit terms, the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights.

Suggesting way forward, the groups requested that President Buhari use his good office to recall the contentious document from the legislative quarters and kickstart a fresh process which will entail consultation with Nigerians from the initial stages through the entire process at the National Assembly.

Copies of the letter were also sent to the Vice president, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate and House Committee Chairs on Water Resources. The House Committee on Rules and Business and the Minister of Water Resources also got copies of the letter.

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