By Agbonkhese Oboh
Between January 29 and 30, global activists, thought leaders, labour unions and human rights advocates will congregate in Abuja for a summit that will make advancements on achieving the human right to water in Nigeria and around the world.
The summit, which has as theme Nigeria’s Water Emergency: From Resistance to Real Solutions Against Corporate Control, is organised by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, Corporate Accountability, Public Services International and other groups on the platform of Our Water Our Right Coalition, is to set the agenda for rejecting water privatisation and securing universal water access in Nigeria and across the globe.
A statement by Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Campaigns, ERA/Fo EN, said participants will come from communities across Nigeria, the United States, India and other cities that have faced harms caused by the private water industry.
According to it, “impacted people from Flint, Michigan, Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania in US, and Nagpur in India will testify to the harms and human rights abuses they have experienced from water privatising by a firm, which is running for a contract to manage water in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city.
“Members of the US Congress will also participate remotely alongside the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, Leo Heller, and UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Philip Alston. The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, and members of the National Assembly are also expected.”
It continued: “Among other objectives, the summit will strengthen the solidarity between civil society groups, labour unions, activists, policy makers and the media to resist privatisation in the water sector and advance real solutions to lack of access to water within the realm of public-public partnerships.”
Speaking on the summit, “Nnimmo Bassey, Chairman, Board of the ERA/FoEN, said: “Water is a human right which should not be subject to the whims of privatisers. This is the key message of the Our Water Our Right Coalition and this is the message that participants in the Abuja summit will reinforce.”
“Water needs to be in the hands of people, not corporations,” said Shayda Naficy, Campaign Director, Corporate Accountability.
“Movements around the world are demanding an end to the corporate control of this vital resource; it is time for governments and the World Bank to heed our calls and end the promotion of water for profit,” Naficy added.
Meanwhile, after the conclusion of the Abuja summit, the National Assembly will discuss a precedent-setting water bill that could also reject privatisation.