Buhari Plans To Grab Mineral Resources Of Southern Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday called on the National Assembly to swiftly approve the National Water Resources Bill.
iexclusive News Nigeria reports that the demand may boil a simmering fury from lawmakers and policy experts from Southern Nigeria who claimed the bill was just another proof of the Buhari regime’s desire to dominate the resource-rich part of the country.
The law was rejected twice in 2018 and 2020, when Mr. Buhari pushed it, claiming that it was necessary to guarantee that all Nigerians have access to sufficient drinkable water.
But the text of the law contradicted the president’s assertion. The law sought to vest the federal government with authority over all water bodies in Nigeria, a plan that opponents claimed made a mockery of the roaring call for a reformed and decentralized Nigeria.
Another section of the law pushed for people to get federal authorization to dig boreholes in their houses or businesses, a move that experts believe would exacerbate access to potable water by making obtaining permissions from the government more difficult and fraudulent.
Currently, Nigerians have legal rights to dig a well in their own homes in order to have access to vital resources.
Only a few cities have an intermittent supply of water via their different water boards.
President Buhari has also been accused of pushing the contentious law in order to grab the remaining vital natural resources under state and local administrations in Southern Nigeria.
Unlike President Buhari’s dry northern region, Southern Nigeria has coaster regions and a wide range of inland water basins.
President Buhari renewed his call for the bill’s passage on Thursday during the inauguration of the Zobe Regional Water Supply Scheme in Katsina, urging other state governments to form strong partnerships with the federal government to provide infrastructure for Nigerians, about a year after it was rejected again.
The president reiterated that his government will strive hard to guarantee that Nigerians have access to potable water supplies and sanitation services.
For the president, this can only be accomplished based on the “need to mobilize money from all sources including the private sector.”
This, according to the president, is “where the necessity for fast approval of the National Water Resources Bill that makes provision for the National WASH Fund, as well as regulatory framework for private sector participation in the sector, became relevant.”
He continued, “I, therefore, urge on the National Assembly to pay attention to the Bill towards its passage into law as soon as possible.”
Mr. Buhari bragged that his government was dedicated to improving the water industry since it came into office in 2015.
In his comments, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, highlighted that 106 water projects were left uncompleted by past governments.
The bill that aims to transfer water resources from states to the federal government was initially presented to the National Assembly in 2017.
While it was sent to be approved into law, many Nigerians kicked against it, forcing the eighth assembly’s hand to drop the bill.
However, it was revived in 2020 by Abubakar Fulata, head of the House of Representatives Committee on Rules and Business.
Among those who attacked the law were Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and Governor Samuel Ortom, who characterized the measure as “another form of RUGA.”
Mr. Ortom said, “The bill, in addition to its provisions, which are in conflict with the Land Use Act is camouflaged land-grabbing legislation, meant to give pastoralists unfettered access to river basins, nearby marine and coastal ecosystems throughout the nation.
“The law is another version of RUGA, whose goal is to establish grazing grounds throughout the 36 states of the federation for herders and their livestock.”
On his part, Mr. Soyinka claimed the ‘Bill on National Water Resources 2020’ was intended to give Aso Rock Absolute authority over the nation’s total water resources, both above and underground.