Plans by the Ogun State government to privatise water through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model promoted by the World Bank is a recipe to enslave citizens of the state and generations yet born, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) have said.
The ERA/FoEN and AUPCTRE disclosed in a statement on Wednesday that neither was any consultation made, nor was there input from civil society and the labour unions in all the stages that got the bill to the table of Governor Ibikunle Amosun. The bill, awaiting the governor’s signature, is said to have speedily passed through the State House of Assembly on 13 May, 2015.
ERA/FoEN spokesman, Philip Jakpor, disclosed in the statement: “The development in Ogun resembles that of Lagos where intense local and international demands for disclosure in October 2014 forced the World Bank to open up on a water privatisation scheme, which centres on the appointment of its private arm – the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to design a PPP water scheme. The Lagos project, just like what is unfolding in Ogun State is shrouded in utter secrecy, with no input from critical segments of the population that it will supposedly benefit. The bank had initially said it had no deal with the Lagos government but swiftly announced it had cancelled the IFC contract following global pressure.”
ERA/FoEN Deputy Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, was quoted in the statement as saying: “It is utterly disappointing that the Ogun State government is toeing the same path we have observed and campaigned against in Lagos. We urge Governor Amosun not to sign away the sovereignty of the state residents by this anti-people initiative promoted by the World Bank.”
Oluwafemi stressed, “PPPs have a devastating track-record which include rate hikes, sporadic access, unsafe water, and infrastructure neglect so we are in solidarity with the Ogun people in rejecting this false solution to making a basic human right accessible.”
Ogun State Secretary of AUPCTRE, Babatunde Omotola, said: “The bewilderment of Ogun people is further heightened by the fact that the bill before the governor will worsen their plight having watched for years how successive administrations have deliberately allowed public water infrastructure to collapse to pave the way to a loan arrangement which will place more burden on the residents.”
According to Omotola, while the Ogun State government is obligated to identify ways to ensure the rights of citizens to safe and potable drinking water, prioritising the human right to water above and over profit motives should be the driver of such a policy. “We also demand a probe of all the loans thus far sunk into water projects in Ogun State,” he added.
The groups urged the state government to halt the planned privatisation and, instead, integrate broad public participation in developing plans to achieve universal access to clean water including investing in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access, to sustain and create jobs, improve public health, and invigorate the Ogun economy.