By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (AUPCTRE) have asked Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State not to sign the Plateau State water sector law which was passed by the Plateau State Assembly on Thursday May 30, 2019.
In a statement issued yesterday, the groups said that the hurried passage of the law in spite of popular aversion to its Public Private Partnership (PPP) provisions, smacks of respect for the people of Plateau who have overwhelmingly rejected water privatization in any form, and want democratic control of water instead.
Article three sub-section 1 (p) of the bill seeks to promote PPP principles in the development and management of water resources in Plateau State.
The bill was passed last week following a report of the House Standing Committee on Parastatals. Honorable Godfrey Langdip who read the report, said it had been subject to deep scrutiny, including the involvement of critical stakeholders at the public hearing on April 16, 2019.
But AUPCTRE and ERA/FoEN countered this in a joint statement, describing the passage as a betrayal of the trust that Plateau citizens reposed on the lawmakers to defend them against oppressive forces. They urged Governor Lalong not to append his signature to the bill.
AUPCTRE National President, Comrade Benjamin Anthony said: “We are not only dismayed with this news; we feel the Plateau State House of Assembly just gifted the citizens of the state a bad law that will mortgage their future and tie them to the loins of for-profit only entities. We reject the PPP in its entirety”
Comrade Anthony insisted that the solution to the Plateau State waster crisis, just like that of other states of the federation, requires the prioritizing of the rights of the people far above private interests.
“The PPP privatization model in the water sector has failed in virtually all countries of the globe where it was introduced. Remunicipalisation is the solution and it is happening now. What we want the state government to do is to avoid worsening the already tensed security situation in the state through a denial of their fundamental right to a free gift of nature.
ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “It is the height of insensitivity for the lawmakers to go ahead and shove an anti-people law before the faces of the people they are supposed to serve and protect. The Governor must side with the people by not appending his signature”
“The PPP experiment that the Plateau State government is planning to embark on will only lead to poor water quality, job losses, hike in water prices and poor service. It has happened elsewhere and will not be different here”, Oluwafemi pointed out.
“We made our position clear at the Public Hearing on April 16. Now it is clear that the exercise was conducted only to deceive the people to think their input matters. We reiterate our position that the solution to the water crisis in the state is a high-quality, publicly- funded, and democratically-controlled water sector. The governor must realize this and withhold his assent to this anti-people bill”
It will be recalled that at the April 16, 2019 Public Hearing on a Bill for a law to provide for the Plateau State water sector law and for other matters connected, ERA/FoEN, AUPCTRE, the Civil Society Coalition for Good Governance and a host of grassroots groups canvassed support for public control and sustainable budgetary allocation to the water sector. The groups also criticized section of the draft law that empowers the Plateau State Water Corporation to enter into any commitments, agreements, joint venture, performance contracts, PPP agreements in respect of the provision, distribution, supply or sale of water and sewage management services.
The groups want the Plateau government to fully uphold the human right to water as an obligation of the government, representing the people and integrate broad public participation in developing plans to achieve universal access to clean water.
“The Plateau State government must build the political will to prioritize water for the people by investing in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access. This which will create jobs, improve public health, and invigorate the Plateau economy”, they insisted.