By Tosin Kolade
Abuja – The Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) has pledged to sustain advocacy with the National Assembly to prioritise the passage of the National Water Resources Bill.
The National Coordinator of the group, Mr Benson Attah, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday that this was necessary following reports of poor water supply in the country.
According to him, the bill will create room for both private sector investment and employment opportunities for the people.
The House of Representatives passed the bill early in 2018, the Senate has not done same due to opposing views to the provisions of the bill.
“We have not heard about the Water Resources Bill, partly because of this transition, sadly, the chairman of the house committee on water resources, is not coming back, so when they reconstitute the committee, we will have an audience with both of them.
“We will continue to advocate and drive the process, we will also see what support would be given to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene budget at both senate and house committee levels.
He said that the National Water Resources Bill was consistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Land Use Act, and should not be politicised for whatever reason.
Attah said that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources had realised that with the current situation of water supply and sanitation services, the country would not meet its target in the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, hence the declaration of a state of emergency.
He said that political will and commitment should be from top to bottom approach to ensure that leadership supports policy implementation for the overall goal of improving access to water.
He said that political leaders ought to realise that access to water was a basic right of the citizens, adding that issues relating to water supply should not be politicised as a mere campaign promises.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, has at a recent forum urged Nigerians and lawmakers to stop politicising the water resources bill, saying its benefits were enormous and for the public good.
He said that the overall objective of the bill was geared toward the efficient management of the water resources sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the wellbeing of its citizens.
“The existing laws in the sector include the 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.
“However, these laws are being re-enacted with necessary modifications in the new bill so as to actualise current global trends and best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM),’’ he said.
Adamu said that the National Water Resources Bill, which was drafted in 2006, had passed through series of consultations among stakeholders up to 2008.
He, however, added that since that time, successive administrations had failed to give it priority attention until now.
The bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface water and groundwater for the use of all the citizens.
The Federal Government intends to ensure through the provisions of the proposed 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.’’
The bill provides for the creation of an enabling environment for public and private sector investment.
It also provides for capacity building processes to foster good governance, while establishing a water use and licensing framework to ensure sustainable finance for the water sector.