By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Abuja
Should the controversial water resources bill recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives eventually pass into law, the Federal Government shall have the power to control all the resources found in the waters across the country.
The power, however, is vested in the Minister of Water Resources, who will exercise it on behalf of the government.
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It will be recalled that the Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) reintroduced the bill after it had failed to fly in the 8th assembly.
A draft copy of the bill sighted by Vanguard, which detailed the powers and functions of the minister in Section 10(1) stated that “It shall be the duty of the Minister to promote the protection, use, development, conservation, and management of inter-state water resources throughout Nigeria and to ensure the effective exercise of powers and performance of duties by institutions and persons identified under this Bill and in the constitution.”
Similarly, Subsections 2 and 3 of the bill also stated that “The Minister shall have the power to make regulations, policies and strategies for the proper carrying out of the provisions of this Bill and functioning of the Ministry in accordance with this Bill, as well as in accordance with other directives he may receive from the President and any guidance from the Council.
“The Minister shall have and exercise reasonable powers as are necessary and required in furtherance of the duties and functions conferred pursuant to this Bill, the directives of the President, or any other Law.”
Under sections 11,12,13 and 14 of the bill, the minister also has the power to establish a Committee to coordinate implementation of any international agreement entered into by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a foreign government or any other international body or organisation relating to investigating, managing, monitoring, and protecting water resources.
Other functions of the Minister include to provide guidance for policy and standards for water supply and sanitation towards promoting uniform technical and service’ standards and infrastructure development across the country;
To provide technical support for the survey, investigation, planning and design of water resources projects with input from relevant Professional institutions;
To support, monitor and evaluate programmes and institutions in the sector;
And, the function rights activists do not like, to promote all aspects of public-private partnerships in the development of water resources infrastructure.
“The contravention of any Regulations issued … shall constitute an offence and shall be punishable as prescribed in the Regulations,” the bill warns.