The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) have urged the Federal Government to discard the National Water Resources Bill currently before the National Assembly.
At a media briefing in Lagos, the groups lamented that three years after their Nigerian zones queried the contentious National Water Bill, the proposed law has been brought back to the National Assembly for consideration.
“When Nigerians had thought that our lawmakers would hearken to the voices of the people for a serious review of the bill, it was steadily progressing towards passage in the National Assembly.
According to the groups, the proposed law contains “anti-people and pro-privatisation sections which make it inevitable for us to conclude that it is not intended to serve the interest of the generality of Nigerians, and is the first step in plans to commodify our common patrimony.”
The National President of AUPCTRE, Benjamin Anthony; Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi; Associate Director, Aderonke Ige and Musa Ukpo of AUPCTRE, described the proposed law as “anti-people and an attempt to foist additional burden on Nigerians, who are already suffering untold hardship under the current government.”
They urged the citizens to reject the move in its entirety, warning that if the bill, which has passed its first reading in the House of Representatives, should be allowed to become law, “Nigerians would lose their right to safe, clean and affordable water.”
Ige, who reviewed over 21 sections of the bill, which seek to remove the rights to water from states, faulted the provisions therein, advising that the Nigerian government should think of ways of alleviating the sufferings of the citizenry rather than add to their burden.
“Although on the surface, it appears that Public Private Partnership (PPP) is beneficial and will only apply to infrastructure development of water resources, but with deeper insight, it is impossible for private corporations to commit resources to the development of water without a measure of control and ownership.”
“Private corporations gun for profits and will always act in their own interests to maximise profits. Control and distribution through a PPP arrangement, therefore, will at best be inimical and counterproductive to free access of citizens to water, as clearly admitted as a matter of right in previous sections of the bill’s objective,” the activists added.
Oluwafemi, who decried a section of the bill that provides that citizens should secure driller’s licence before drilling private boreholes, argued that regardless of the intention, “this would amount to invasion of property and privacy under the guise of legislation or regulation. It is at best a licence to arbitrary encroachment.”