By Oboh Agbonkhese
Last week, rights groups, labour leaders and activists got together in a rountable to examine moves by Lagos State Government to privatise water distribution in the state, especially the Adiyan II Waterworks.
Their conclusion was that access to clean, safe, equitable and affordable water is a human right and must be treated as such, which is at variance with private corporations’ sole objective which is profit-making.
They argued that the multinationals that Lagos Water Corporation, LWC, shortlisted for the privatisation scheme cannot be trusted, as they had failed in projects they embarked on in India, the US, Morocco, Spain, led to loss of jobs in Rwanda, with many of the corporations’ CEOs being investigated for shady deals.
According to them, multinational corporations and world monetary bodies are using Lagos as a test case to “colonise” Africa, noting that Bayelsa State is also being primed for privatisation.
The event, organised by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, ERA/FoEN, and supported by Corporate Accountability International, Public Services International, among others, saw veteran unionist, Mr. S. O. Z. Ejiofor speaking on Human Rights and Corporate Conquest in Nigeria, Deputy Executive Director, ERA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, speaking on Water Privatisation: The Case of Our Water Rights Campaign; Labour leader, Leke Zambuk, speaking on PPP Versus Labour: From Bi-Water to Veolia; 2019 presidential aspirant, Jaiye Gaskia, Creating People’s Movement Against PPP, and Sani Baba, speaking on Global Perspectives of Water Privatisation. Concluding, National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE; PSI, Labour and the CSOs represented agreed to join hands with ERA to take the campaign to the grassroots, agreeing that today’s Nigerian leaders don’t read, otherwise they would understand that public service is the core of governance.
Other unionists/activists at the roundtable were ERA/FoEN’s Head of Campaigns, Philip Jakpor; activist, Achike Chude, and National President of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, Mr. Benjamin Anthony, who gave the welcome address.