By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA – THE Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, Friday, explained that the National Water Resources Bill at the National Assembly, when passed into law will protect all geopolitical zones in the country.
Adamu made the statement as it concerns some issues raised against the bill, which he said if passed into law will better serve and provide for the enhancement of Nigeria water sector in line with global best practices hence, will be in the overall best interest of every citizen, region and section of the country.
Also allaying the fears of some governors in the South-south geopolitical zone, according to him lands and river banks belong to the States and the communities where such exist, rather the bill only has concern with the water resources of the country, especially waters that are trans-boundary cutting across States.
According to him the bill has nothing to do with management or control of inland water ways as misunderstood by some people whom he said has not gone through the bill to understand its contents.
He said: “This National Water Resources Bill when passed into Law will better serve and provide for the enhancement of the Nigeria water sector in line with global best practices hence, it will be in the overall best interest of every citizen, region and section of the country.
“The National Water Resources Bill seeks to eliminate conflicting roles of sector institutions and create seamless synergies among the Agencies with focus on professionalizing the sector and to encourage specialization.
“It seeks to provide an institutional framework that clarifies a separation of roles and responsibilities along the lines of service provision, regulation and policy formulation, eliminating overlaps and duplicity of functions and promising synergy, professionalism and specialization.
“Promotion of cooperation in trans-boundary water management across basins and countries including tools for improving transparency and accountability within the water sector.
“The management of water at basin level covering development and improvement strategies, coordination and collaboration among stakeholders and plans, as well as commercialization.
“Recognition and implementation of the principle of water as an economic and social good, taking into consideration the socio- economic status of the users, particularly affordability amongst other things.
“The Water Resources Bill provides for the creation of an enabling environment for public and private sector investment. The bill also provides for capacity building processes to foster good governance whilst establishing a water use and licensing framework to ensure sustainable financing for Water Sector Development from tariffs including creation of an enabling climate for increased private sector participation in service delivery under Public Private Partnership Management Contracts.”
The Minister also stated that the bill when passed into law will ensure that water use by states do not affect each other negatively, for instance damming of trans-boundary water cutting through it, which some people said the bill gives more powers to some states than others in water resources management.
“States have the rights to use such water for any purpose provided it does not affect the users downstream in other States, for instance a State cannot arbitrarily dam trans-boundary water cutting through it thereby denying users downstream in other States access to it. In order to ensure that water is accessible to users upstream and downstream, the power to control trans-boundary waters cutting across States in Nigeria is vested on the Federal Government. Again this is not new, it is in the existing law.
“On the contrary, the bill aimed at devolving some of the powers vested on federal government to the States. The existing National Water Resources Act vested a lot of powers in the Minister of Water Resources and what this bill seeks to do is to devolve powers to the States through Catchment Management Committees, CMC, who will be responsible for the regulation of borehole drilling and other watershed and catchment issues”, he added.