National Water Bill: CSOs, labour, community groups insist on public sector solutions to water challenges
From left—Akinbode Oluwafemi, CAPPA Executive Director; Musa Ukpo, Acting Gen-Sec of AUPCTRE, Aderonke Ige, Associate Director CAPPA, and Benjamin Anthony, AUPCTRE National President, at the event.

By Agbonkhese Oboh

The Federal Government needs to embrace public sector solutions in addressing the water challenges Nigerians face, as the contents of the National Water Bill 2020 are undemocratic and inhuman.

This was the position taken by participants at a one-day labour, civil society organisations, CSOs, and communities’ consultation on the National Water Bill 2020 on Wednesday, in Lagos.

They also noted that attempts to privatise water in countries around the world failed and foisting the National Water Resources Bill on Nigerians despite popular opposition is reflective of a culture of the insensitivity of the Nigerian government to the genuine needs of Nigerians.

A communiqué issued at the end of the consultation noted that the acceptance of the privatisation myth, especially the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) poses serious challenge to access to water, thus depriving communities of their right to a basic human right.

This is especially so when “comprehensive data on both water infrastructure investment and access is lacking, thereby stifling planning for the now and the future.”

In his welcome address, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, noted that in the entire drama leading to the stepping down of the National Water Bill, solidarity had been key in forcing the hands of the government.

Therefore, he said, the need for groups to continue mobilising and engaging to ensure that the will of the people stands cannot be overemphasised.

READ ALSO: CAPPA, AUPCTRE urge Reps to reject lobby for Water Resources Bill’s passage

The keynote address, The National Water Resources Bill in the Age of Remunicipalisation and Democratic Control of Water Resources, was delivered by Dr. Sofiri-Joab Peterside of the University of Port Harcourt.

Benjamin Anthony, National President of AUPCTRE; Achike Chude of the Joint Action Front, JAF; Abi Badru of Public Services International, PSI, and Soweto of the Socialist Democratic Movement, also spoke at the event.

Resolutions

Some other agreements reached at the consultation were that the Nigerian government discard the National Water Bill and kick-start a fresh community-based process;

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources respect the genuine wishes of Nigerians expressed through the media and other public channels and stop its promotion of the Bill;

Privatisation, including the PPP model of water privatisation has been proven to be a false solution worldwide that will only enrich a few and burden the people with endless debts and increase in poverty;

Government at all levels should embrace democratic decision-making in addressing water shortages, while women and vulnerable groups should also be accorded priority in plans to guarantee access;

The Nigerian governments invest in public infrastructure and embrace democratic, participatory, and transparent management of water investments that fulfil the human right to water through the public sector; and

Civil society, labour and community groups continue legislative engagements to ensure that the will of the people is respected.

Signatories

Organisations that reached the agreement include  AUPCTRE, CAPPA, Public Services Employees, PSI, JAF, Child Health Organisation and African Women Water Sanitation and Hygiene Network.

Others are Social Democratic Movement, Network of Lagos Communities Against Water Privatisation, Peace and Development Project and Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection.

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