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Wednesday, 07 June 2023 02:34

Controversial Water Resources Bill Suffers Setback At Senate

The National Water Resources Bill, 2023 faced a setback during Tuesday’s Senate plenary when its consideration for concurrence was postponed.

The decision to stand down the bill came after Senator Gabriel Suswam, representing Benue North East senatorial district, raised a point of order seconded by Senator James Manager, representing Delta South senatorial district.

Suswam cited order 85 of the Senate Rules, which states that senators must be provided with the details of the provisions of any bill listed for concurrence.

He argued that without access to such information, the bill could not be adequately assessed.

Manager echoed the importance of transparency and called for full disclosure of the bill’s contents. He noted that the bill, as presented, only contained a title and lacked comprehensive provisions.

In 2020, the House of Representatives passed the bill amid concerns regarding its intent and purpose.

The initial bill sought to transfer the control of water resources from the states to the Federal Government, but was rejected by governors.

Clause 2 (1) of the supposed revised legislation states that: “The right to the use, management and control of all surface water and groundwater affecting more than one State pursuant to item 64 of the Exclusive Legislative List in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, and as set out in the First Schedule to this Bill is vested in the Government of the Federation to be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this bill.”

It adds: “States may make provisions for the use, management and control of water resources occurring solely within the boundaries of the state in line with regulations and guidelines made pursuant to this Bill on policy and principles of Integrated Water Resources management.”

The summary of the bill reads: “This Act repeals the Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004; River Basin Development Act Cap R9 LFN 2004; Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N110A, LFN,2004; NationaI Water Resources Institute Act Cap N83 LFN 2004; and establishes the National Council on Water Resources, Nigeria Water Resources Regulatory Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, and the National Water Resources Institute.”

The proposed bodies, if established, will “provide for the regulation, equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface water and groundwater resources.”

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