Akwa-Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has kicked against the Water Resources Bill, which seeks to establish a regulatory framework for the water resources sector in Nigeria, reports Tribune.
He made his displeasure known on during a recent interview in Lagos where he responded to questions on various issues of national interest.
The former top executive with Zenith Bank said “I am completely against it because it is counter development. It also violates the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Take for example, my area, the whole life of our people is on water and the constitution does not separate the land from water. So, how can you now say water on the surface and water beneath? What happens to us because we live on water, we survive on water, we do everything on water? Does it mean that those that have land, live on land and do everything on land, their governors have control, while governors of riverine areas where the peoples’ entire life is on water should not control anything? Is that not a violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?”
“So, it is a total rejection not just by me, but by the entire people of the South-South and South-East of this country and we just want to believe that at this time that our democracy is still fragile, we should put in things that will build the country stronger and not those that can call so many things to question. Let’s do things that can move us forward and not backward. Such a bill can take us several thousand miles backwards. Believe me, we reject it in its entirety because it is against the constitution and it is an indirect way of saying that we are not Nigerians because everything about our life in the Niger Delta is on water”, he added.
When asked what steps, if any, were being taken to forestall the passage of the Bill by the National Assembly, he said: “We have a Chairman of the Governors of the South-South and to be fair to him, he has been speaking on the issue, so I don’t want to make any comment that would be contrary to the statement he has made.”
The water resources bill is an executive bill forwarded to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari seeking to abrogate all the existing laws and institutions governing the management of water resources across the country with a view to bringing the resources under federal control.
The Bill which expressly violates the Land Use Act provides that “All surface water and groundwater wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people, the use of which is subject to statutory control. There shall be no private ownership of water but the right to use water in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”