Water Resources Minister Engr Suleiman Adamu said the National Water Resources Bill currently before the National Assembly (NASS) is not intended to seize the powers of state governments, communities and individuals as being insinuated in certain circles.
Adamu, who provided the clarification in a statement, said the bill was crafted in good faith as the power to allocate land to any water-related project under the bill still rests with the governors of the respective states of Nigeria. He said the bill is in line with global best practices in water resources development and management.
“The water bill is designed in good faith and there is nothing sinister about it and has no intention of usurping the powers of state governments, communities and individuals as widely insinuated by some sections of the country that the authority to allocate land for any water related project under the bill is still vested in the respective state governors of Nigeria.
“Interestingly, the government has no intention of taking over the licensing and commercialization of water use.
“This is not the intention, as the current Water Resources Acts (2004) (made pursuant to the Constitution) already provide for this. This bill only tries to provide a more effective framework for the implementation of this provision for necessary development purposes.
“Place these provisions side by side with the existing Water Resources Act 2004, which has been in force for over 30 years now and you will see that there is no radical difference in word and spirit. .
“To address some of the challenges of managing irrigation and improving water supply, the bill further provides for the participation of farmers in the maintenance of irrigation infrastructure as well as a fund WASH to assist the States of the Federation to respond to financial investments in water, sanitation and hygiene projects,” he said.
The statement pointed out that the controversies and arguments generated by the bill stem from “either an ill-informed position or a sinister effort to continue to mislead Nigerians for political reasons.”
“Unfortunately, the Bill has caused so much controversy and one of the reasons for this is that many of those who criticize the Bill have not even seen the contents or read its provisions. The group of those who oppose the bill depend on second-hand information to draw their conclusions.
“Critics accused the feds of having a hidden agenda in pursuing the bill, some called it a call for anarchy, others said it was a RUGA scheme and a land grabbing scheme to favor herders.
“Some of those who read it did so superficially through the critics’ arguments without dispelling doubts by asking well-meaning questions,” the minister added.