Senate Rejects Controversial Water Resources Bill
Nigerian Senate on Tuesday rejected the controversial Nigeria Inland Waterways Bill, 2023 (repeal and re-enactment), after it was listed for concurrence on the Order Paper for consideration and passage.
The rejection of the bill by the Senate put an end to the controversy by governors and federal lawmakers majorly from the Southern part of the country.
As soon as the bill was read for concurrence on the floor of the Senate, Senator Gabriel Suswan raised Order 85 of the Senate Rules which provides that Senators must have full details of the provisions of any bill coming for concurrence.
Senator James Manager who supported Senator Suswan’s position, stressed the need to have details of the bill since provision was made for only the title of the bill.
Thereafter President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan, ruled that the bill be stepped down until the next Legislative day but five other bills listed for concurrence were considered & passed.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives had passed the bill in 2020 amid suspicion by members and the general public.
The legislation was titled, ‘A Bill for An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, Provide for the Equitable and Sustainable Redevelopment, Management, Use and Conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Groundwater Resources and for Related Matter.’
The summary of the bill reads: “This Act repeals the Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004; River Basin Development Act Cap R9 LFN 2004; Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N110A, LFN,2004; NationaI Water Resources Institute Act Cap N83 LFN 2004; and establishes the National Council on Water Resources, Nigeria Water Resources Regulatory Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, and the National Water Resources Institute.”
The proposed bodies, if established, will “provide for the regulation, equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface water and groundwater resources.”
Those opposed to the bill had pointed out that the bill, if passed into law, would further centralise the power and resources of the country, pointing out that this would counter the move towards devolution of power domiciled with the Federal government