By Samuel Oyadongha – Yenogoa
Bayelsa State Government has described the proposed National Water Resources Bill 2020 as another draconian land use decree in disguise, saying it would join other progressive forces to resist it at all cost.
This was one of the decisions reached by the State Executive Council at its weekly meeting in Yenagoa.
The governor, Senator Douye Diri was absent at the meeting held on Wednesday and presided over by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
The National Water Resources Bill 2020, which has passed its second reading on the floor of the Senate, has attracted wide condemnation across the country due to its controversial provisions aimed at seizing control of the country’s waterways.
In a joint briefing led by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Ayibaina Duba, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Mr Biriyai Dambo (SAN), said Council decided to oppose the bill because it negates the rights of Bayelsans, Niger Deltans and several other people in the country to enjoy their God-given resources.
To this end, he expressed the state government’s readiness to apply all necessary legal frameworks to reject any legislation by the National Assembly that would emanate from the bill.
Mr Dambo, while pointing out some relevant sections of the bill, noted that Section 62 seeks to deny indigenes especially the Niger Delta people of their ancestral lands and the freedom of fishing for business.
His words “Section 62 of the bill which states that any person who choose to undertake any of the activities in relation to water resources of this bill, shall be licensed by the Commission.
“The essence of this is that, this bill seeks to take away the freedom of not just the Niger Delta people but Nigerians at large, so if they start licensing the waterways activities, then you are encroaching on the freedom of the people and that is unacceptable.
“That is why Exco came to the conclusion that we reject this bill and secondly, we shall also impress on members of the National Assembly from and outside this region to oppose this Bill with everything they have.”
On his part, the State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Akpoebide Alamieyeseigha, said the recent citizens budget participatory session organised by the state government enabled Council to approve the Medium Term Expenditure Framework covering Year 2020 to 2023.
This, according to him, will set the tone for the presentation of the 2021 budget by Governor Douye Diri to the State House of Assembly in a few weeks from now.