Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has condemned the re-introduction of the Bill on National Water Resources 2020 to the National Assembly.
In a statement issued yesterday, Soyinka warned that the bill, if passed into law, would hand the president “absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources, both over and underground.
“A roundly condemned project, blasted out of sight by public outrage one or two years ago, is being exhumed and sneaked back into service by none other than a failed government, and with the consent of a body of people, supposedly elected to serve as custodians of the rights, freedoms and existential exigencies of millions,” Soyinka said in the statement titled MLK’s Mighty Stream of Righteosuness,’ in reference to the late Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.
The Premium Times reported that the bill, which failed to get a concurrent passage by both Houses in the Eighth Assembly, has passed second reading in the House of Representatives and has been referred to a House committee.
The leaders of the southern Nigeria had kicked against the bill, alleging that it is ploy by federal government to hand over the waters and river banks to the killer-herdsman and the earlier attempts to annex their ancestral lands through RUGA programme failed.
Civil society groups had also argued that the bill would breach Nigerians the right to water.
The Nobel laureate said it is time to move beyond denunciations and embark on practical responses for the bill’s “formal deactivation and permanent internment.”
“Let all retain in their minds that, from the same source that preached the ‘streams of righteousness’ is encountered the promise of ‘no more floods, the fire next time.’
“In any case, let the promulgators of this obscenity, high and low, understand that the placid waters they think to control unjustly and grotesquely, will turn to be Martin Luther King’s ‘mighty stream of righteousness’ that will overwhelm and sweep them off their complacent, and increasingly loathsome sectarian, conspiratorial heights.
“One polluted stream of human existence compounds the next. A violation here joins forces with its tributary of resentment there yonder, all seemingly unconnected. Martin Luther King’s streams of righteousness turn into a mighty torrent of repulse that overwhelms the perpetrators but, alas, takes down much else as collateral, irreparable damage.
“That is the only cause for regret and – restraint. Hence our duty to position that anguished question frontally, and call the world to witness our open propagation of that challenge: Do future lives matter?
“Let Buhari and his myrmidons ponder that question in the deepest recesses of their hearts and minds. They should not bequeath to future generations the harvest of the grapes of wrath,” Soyinka added.