THE Nigeria Labour Congress has cautioned the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) not to “resurrect or cause to be passed into law the Water Bill because of the danger it portends to national unity.” A statement to that effect, signed by NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, stated.
The statement, dated August 28, 2020 but made available to National Record on Monday, stated that “information in the public domain has it that the National Assembly leadership is working surreptitiously with vested interests outside the Assembly that are anxious to pass the bill without due legislative process.
“Although the National Assembly is constitutionally vested with law-making, we warn against the National Assembly ambushing Nigerians.
“We equally warn against legislative abuse or betrayal of Nigerians as this is what it will amount to if the bill is passed or caused to be passed without public engagement and scrutiny. Already, the sentiments expressed against this bill are too grave to be brushed off.
“We recall that this bill was rejected in 2018 with very good reasons. Although there is no law against re-presentation of a killed or rejected bill, however, given the strong sentiments expressed against this bill from practically all sections of the country, then and now, we would strongly advise that this bill should not be resurrected.
“We have in our hands at the moment enough challenges to court fresh and costly controversy.
“Although, legislation is one of the three constitutional functions of the National Assembly, it should not be a licence to dictatorship but a representation of the will, aspirations and sensitivities of the populace.
“In light of this, we state unambiguously that the National Assembly should listen to the voice of reason by resting this bill.
“As a pan-Nigerian organisation, we would continue to work assiduously for unity, development, justice and accountable leadership,” the NLC stated.
Last week, Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, raised the alarm alleging that the federal government is conniving with the National Assembly to re-introduce the National Water Resources Bill which was rejected by the public in 2018.
Prof Soyinka in a statement last Thursday kicked against the resurrection of the bill stating that “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.”
He said bill “is designed to hand Aso Rock absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources, both over and underground.”
Governor Ortom Too
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, also called on members of the National Assembly to reject the bill in the interest of the country describing it as another version of the rejected Ruga policy to grab land for pastoralists.
He said the bill which is seeking to bring all water sources as well as river banks under the control of the federal government through its agencies was anti-federalism and if passed in to law will negate the right of Nigerians to their God-given resources.