By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Bill seeking to empower the federal government to take over the rivers and lakes cross the country yesterday failed to sail through in the Senate, following the rejection of the proposal by some of the senators, who expressed worry that it will further deplete the resources to the states and local governments.
This therefore resulted in the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, directing the Chairman and Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Water Resources and those of Judiciary and Legal matters, to resolve the areas of controversy within one week and report back to the Senate on the way forward.
The repot of the Bill titled “National Water Resources Bill, (2018)”, was presented by the chairman of the senate committee on Water Resources, Ubali Shittu (Jigawa North East), who while presenting the report of the Bill said the Bill seeks to provide a regulatory framework for the water resources sector in Nigeria.
He also said the Bill seeks to ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled, adding that it will further ensure that the basic water needs of present and future generations of Nigerians.
Speaking further, Ubali Shittu said the Bill will promote public-private partnerships in the development and management of water resources infrastructure, as well as improve public health and economic development.
However, rejecting the Bill the senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, said the Bill will create more controversy for Nigerians, arguing that all the river waters in Nigeria cut across two or more states, which according to him, implies that the federal government will be in control of all the waters and resources thereof in Nigeria.
Speaking also, senator Adeola Solomon (Lagos West), said the states should not be deprived of their control on the rivers that passes their territories, adding that the Lagos state government is already in dispute with the National Inland WaterWays Authority (NIWA) over who should control the water ways in Lagos.
Supporting this, Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East), said the conflict between the Lagos government and the NIWA over who controls the Lagos water ways is before the court now, stressing that the Bill should allow the states control the resources and their water ways.
However, the senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, argued in favour of the Bill, saying it will help to create more access to water to more Nigerians.
He called on his colleagues to support the Bill and give it expeditious passage it deserve.
According to the document sighted by our correspondent, the Bill seeks to repeal the Water Resources Act, River Basin Development Act, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency Act and National Water Resources Institute Act.
In their place, the Bill will establish the National Water Resources Regulatory Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency and National Water Resources Institute.