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Senate blocks FG’s move to take over rivers,lakes

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During the consideration of the report on the bill, the Senators who spoke against the bill said the Federal Government’s proposal will further deplete resources to the states and local governments.

The Federal Government’s proposal through a bill to take over the rivers and lakes across the country failed in theSenate on Thursday.

During the consideration of the report on the bill, the Senators who spoke against the bill said the Federal Government’s proposal will further deplete resources to the states and local governments.

The lawmakers’ contributions to the report on the bill forced the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to order the Chairman and Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Water Resources and those of Judiciary and Legal Matters to resolve the areas of controversy within one week and report back to the Senate on the way forward.

The report of the Bill, titled: “National Water Resources Bill, (2018),” was presented by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Water Resources, Ubali Shittu (Jigawa North East).

The clauses in the Bill, which some of the senators expressed concern over, included Clause 4 of the Bill, which states: “As the public trustee of the nation’s water resources, the Federal Government, acting through the Minister and the institutions created in this Act or pursuant to this Act, shall ensure that the water resources of the nation are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a manner, for the benefit of all persons and all in accordance with its constitutional mandate.”

Also, Clause 5, which stipulates: “States may make provisions for the management, use and control of water sources occurring solely within the boundaries of the State, but shall be guided by the policy and principles of the Federal Government in relation to Integrated Resources Management, and this Act.”

While presenting the report, Ubali explained to the senators that the Bill seeks to provide a regulatory framework for the water resources sector in Nigeria.

He also said the Bill seeks to ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled, adding that it will further ensure that the basic water needs of the present and future generations of Nigerians are met.

He added that the Bill would promote public-private partnerships in the development and management of water resources infrastructure, as well as improve public health and economic development if it is passed into law.

But the Minority leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, who vehemently kicked against the bill, said the passage of the bill will create more controversy for Nigerians.

Akpabio argued that all the river waters in Nigeria cut across two or more states, which, according to him, implies that the Federal Government will be in control of all the waters and resources thereof in Nigeria.

Also speaking against the report, Senator Adeola Solomon stated that states should not be deprived of their control on the rivers that pass through their territories.

Solomon added that the Lagos State Government is already in dispute with the National Inland Waterways Authority over who should control the waterways in Lagos.

In his own contribution, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who joined others to speak against the clause in the report that the Federal Government should take over rivers and lakes across the country, said the conflict between the Lagos State Government and the NIWA over who controls the Lagos waterways is still pending before court.

Ashafa stressed that the Bill should allow the states control the resources and their water ways.

It was only the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, who argued in favour of the Bill, saying it will help to create more access to water for more Nigerians.

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