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Lawmakers disagree over proposed water resources bill, ‘It was reintroduced illegally’ – Rep says

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Members of the House of Representatives have reportedly disagreed over having public hearings on the proposed water resources bill.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, who reintroduced the bill on July 23, 2020, had said there would be no more public hearings on it.

He said a public hearing on the bill was held in the eighth National Assembly, adding that there was no need for another in the current ninth assembly.

However, The Punch reports that some National Assembly members from the Middle Belt and southern parts of the country have vowed to resist any attempt to pass the bill.

The Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason in an interview, said public hearings would be held on the controversial bill, which was abandoned by the eighth National Assembly.

Titled ‘A Bill for An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, Provide for the Equitable and Sustainable Redevelopment, Management, Use and Conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Groundwater Resources and for Related Matter.’, The bill seeks to  concentrate the control of water resources around rivers Niger and Benue  as well as other water ways which cut across 20 states in the hands of the Federal Government.

The affected states are Lagos, Ondo, Ogun,  Edo,  Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Benue,  Anambra, Enugu,  Akwa Ibom,  Adamawa,  Taraba,  Nasarawa,  Niger,  Imo, Rivers,  Bayelsa,  Plateau and Kebbi states.

The Senate on May 24, 2018, considered the executive bill for second reading, during which senators were deeply divided across regional lines.

While northern senators supported the proposal and its objectives, their southern counterparts opposed it.

The lawmaker representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro  Constituency of Rivers State in the House, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, said the bill was brought back illegally

“I was in the chamber one morning and I saw someone (Fulata) move a motion, bringing something (the bill) back. I can’t find it in any gazette. If there is, they should let me know because nobody knows it all. The attempt was made; they said second reading and Committee of the Whole. It is not procedural as far as I know in this National Assembly. It is against the procedure.” he said

The lawmaker warned that the proposed law  would adversely affect Lagos State and  states along the rivers Niger and Benue and their tributaries.

According to a recent NewsWireNGR report, the three problematic areas in the bill can be summed up as follows: It seeks to create fresh government recurrent expenditure at a time of extremely weak public finances and it further seeks to extract rents from individuals and businesses for simply using freely available water resources; it focused on smuggling the unpopular Fulani Ruga policy proposal into law; and it contains unconstitutional clauses explicitly written to shield its executors from facing liability over the mayhem it will almost certainly unleash if it passes into law.

Read the full NewsWireNGR report here.

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