Sada Soli, a member of the House of Representatives from Katsina state, says the lower legislative chamber will pass a bill seeking to regulate water resources in the country.
The bill seeks to bring all water resources – both surface and underground — and the banks of the water sources under the control of the Federal Government.
Although the previous house passed the bill, the senate did not pass it. The proposed law was reintroduced in the current assembly by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Wole Soyinka, playwright and Nobel laureate, is among many Nigerians that have condemned the bill.
Speaking in an interview, Soli dismissed claims that the bill is seeking to give the Federal Government more power.
The legislator said those criticising the bill do not have understanding of it, describing the opposition against it as “deep-seated hatred for this government policy”.
“The bill can’t be stepped down because the House has passed it already; the lawmakers that are saying that they will step it down or that it was introduced illegally is because, may be, they were not there on the floor of the house when the members were given the opportunity to look at the bill not once or twice,” he said.
“Remember it was passed by the eighth assembly. If people have something against the legislation, let them point it out and then it could be amended to conform to the wishes of Nigerians.
“If you don’t understand something or have an idea about something, the easiest thing is that you will misconceive the whole idea. On the claims about the bill being RUGA in disguise, people should not display their parochial mindset
“We need to harness, develop and protect our water resources. Or will you just allow our water resources at the mercy of other sovereignty? These are the innovations the federal government is trying to bring by putting all these legislations together is have one common legislation for the water sector so that it’s easy to manage and protect.
“The governor of Benue state Samuel Ortom, Wole Soyinka and others talking about this bill didn’t read it. I’m looking for an opportunity to meet these elder statesmen to educate them.
“They are being informed about something that does not exist. Maybe the backlash is political; maybe they feel it’s an achievement of this current government and they don’t want it.”
Yesterday, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, cautioned against the Water Resources Bill, warning it could throw Nigeria into another civil war.
A statement signed by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and Miss. Zainab Yusuf, Director; National Media Affairs reads partly: “Evidently, the legislative and regulatory agenda of the present NASS as illustrated in several of their proposed legislations appear to be aimed at attacking freedom of speech, civil space and to abrogate property and economic rights.
“Just like the Companies and Allied Maters Act, 2020 (CAMA 2020), an otherwise necessary and important legislation that has become divisive, the National Water Resources bill has also strayed into our delicate fault-lines and lost in the brackish waters of Nigeria’s recurrent political criticisms.
“The president should be worried that almost all his important policies have continued to energize certain concealed instincts in our society. And that Nigerians now appear incapable of having any decent conversation without resorting to ethnicity and religion.
“All factors considered, therefore, this National Water Resources bill is obnoxious, draconic and imperialistic. Conceived in a time of mutual suspicions, promoted by divisive interests and opposed by the current politics of ethno-religious distrust in the country and should be jettisoned.
“This bill on water resources if not discontinued could result in civil war if not now, then sooner rather than later because it is not possible to take over the natural water resources of the indigenous people in the South and hand them over to strangers under the guise of the central government controlling these water resources.”