*To spearhead 6-year $500m World Bank’s LPRES programme

By Henry Umoru, Abuja

Governors of the 36 states of the federation have rejected the proposed National Water Resources Bill 2020, saying it does not adequately address the interests of states.

Rising from the 5th teleconference meeting of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Tuesday, the governors, in a communique issued at the end of the meeting, said the decision to kick against the proposed legislation came against the backdrop of the fact that it would not address the issue of its inconsistencies with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The communique signed by the NGF chairman and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, read:  “On the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill, governors argued that the bill does not adequately address the interests of the states and is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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‘’The bill, according to the forum, should be reviewed with a view to accommodating the concerns of all states.”

It would be recalled that the the proposed legislation seeks to concentrate the control of water resources around Rivers Niger and Benue, which cut across 19 states, in the hands of the Federal Government.

The bill also seeks to empower the Federal Government to take over water resources from states, licence the supply and commercialise the use of surface and underground waters, which riverine states in the country considered an assault.

States that would be affected are Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Edo, Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Anambra, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa,  Plateau and Kebbi.

It would also be recalled that the Minister of Water Resources, who briefed the governors on September 18, 2020, had said the proposed bill would promote equitable development and management of ground water resources.

The minister also emphasized that the basic philosophy behind the bill was to integrate water resources management in the country by bringing all laws related to water resources management into one consolidated code.

To spearhead 6-year $500m World Bank’s LPRES programme

However, in the communique, the governors resolved to spearhead the Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project, LPRES, a six-year $500 million World Bank programme designed to improve the productivity, commercialisation and resilience of targeted livestock production systems in Nigeria.

The governors said they also got briefing from the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning,  Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed on the draft 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper(FSP) as part of the consultative process in the development of the Federal Government’s fiscal policy and to share relevant macroeconomic and fiscal assumptions to help states prepare their Economic and Fiscal Update, EFU, FSP and Budget Policy Statement, BPS.

Fayemi said:  “Following the presentation, governors had a robust discussion with priority given to the government’s response to the fallouts of the Russia-Ukraine war, including inflation and the rising food and nutrition crises, the continued impact of the PMS subsidy on the fiscal headroom of governments, implications of NNPC’s new transition on federation revenues, as well as the widening divergence between the official and parallel market rate of the dollar on the local currency.

“On health, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, addressed the forum on available Global Fund support to state governments, designed to revamp Primary Healthcare Centres, State Healthcare Centres, Ambulance Services and Drug Management Support in states. Members resolved to work with the Federal Ministry of Health to actualise this initiative.’’

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