UNNECESSARY CONTROVERSY OVER THE NATIONAL WATER RESOURCES BILL
The attention of this Ministry has been drawn to the erroneous and distorted analysis of the National Water Resources Bill that is currently before the Senate having already been passed by the House of Representatives.
Suffice it to note that previously, the Senate held a public hearing on the National Water Resources Bill with majority of the stakeholders in attendance on 5th and 6th of December, 2017 while the House of Representatives held theirs on 17th and 18th of October 2017. All the necessary processes were carried out which enabled the passage of the Bill by the House of Representatives on 30th of November, 2017. The Bill was drafted in 2006 and passed through a series of consultations among stakeholders up to 2008, since which time it received no priority attention by successive Administrations until now.
The reports in the media appear to have neglected the very useful provisions of the Bill which is for the development, management and efficient use of the Nation’s water resources in line with global best practices.
The National Water Resources Bill is not a new law; rather it is an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws that have been in existence as enshrined in LFN 1`2004. These Laws are: Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004, the River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A.LFN, 2004 and National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004.
These Laws are being re- enacted with necessary modifications in the new Bill to actualize current global trends and best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The overall objective is geared towards efficient management of the Water Resources Sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the well-being of its citizens.
The bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and ground water for the use of all people (i.e for domestic and non domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric energy, navigation, fisheries and recreation).
The Federal Government intends to ensure through the provisions of the Law that the water resources of the Nation are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons in accordance with its constitutional mandate.
It is noteworthy that the Water Resources Bill provides for the creation of an enabling environment for public and private sector investment. The Bill also provides for capacity building processes to foster good governance whilst establishing a water use and licensing framework to ensure sustainable financing for Water Sector Development from tariffs including creation of an enabling climate for increased private sector participation in service delivery under Public Private Partnership Management contracts.
The Bill further seeks to create clarity and ease for potential investors thereby reducing or eliminating legal, regulatory and other risks that have the impact of elevated projects costs due to uncertainty.
a. It will eliminate conflicting roles of sector institutions and create seamless synergies among the Agencies with focus on professionalizing the sector and encourage specialization.
b. An institutional framework that clarifies a separation of roles and responsibilities along the lines of service provision, regulation and policy formulation, eliminating overlaps and duplicity of functions and promising synergy, professionalism and specialization.
c. Promotion of co-operation in trans-boundary water management across basins and countries including tools for improving transparency and accountability within the water sector.
d. The management of water at basin level covering development and improvement strategies, coordination and collaboration among stakeholders and plans, as well as commercialization.
e. Recognition and implementation of the principle of water as an economic and social good, taking into consideration the socio- economic status of the users, particularly affordability amongst other things.
The Water Resources Bill in Section 2(5) provides that states shall make provisions for the management, use and control of Water Resources occurring solely within the boundaries of the state but shall be guided by the policy and principles of Federal Government in relation to Integrated Water Resources Management.
The Water Bill equally provides in Section 2(3) for the Federal Government’s right to use and management control of all surface water and ground water affecting more than one state pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
This provision in the Bill is a replica of what has been in existence since 1993 under Section 1 of subsisting Water Resources Act. Cap W2 LFN 2004.
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources therefore wishes to re- affirm that the Bill is consistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Land Use Act. The allegation of some ploy by the Federal Government to excise states’ and communal land for whatever purpose is therefore misleading. It is very evident from the various commentaries noticed so far that those opposing the Bill have not dispassionately studied its content holistically.
The Ministry further appeals to stakeholders and Nigerians in general that they should have faith in the Bill as it is for the good of the Nation. It is in the overall best interest of every citizen of the country that the process of its passage is not politicized.
The general public is invited to note that this National Water Resources Bill when passed into Law will better serve and provide for the enhancement of the Nigeria Water Sector in line with global best practices.
Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu FNSE
Federal Ministry of Water Resources