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Plans to reintroduce water bill disrespectful to Nigerians, say campaigners

The determination of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to reintroduce the National Water Bill is disrespectful to the wishes of Nigerians who have called for it to be trashed, civil society operatives have said.

National Water Resources Bill
L-R: Akinbode Oluwafemi, CAPPA Executive Director; Comrade Musa Ukpo, Acting Gen-Sec of AUPCTRE; Aderonke Ige, Associate Director CAPPA; and Comrade Benjamin Anthony, AUPCTRE National President

They made the submission on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at a Labour, CSO and Communities’ Consultation on the National Water Bill 2020 in Lagos.

It was organised by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Public Services International (PSI) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

According to participants, attempts to foist the National Water Resources Bill on Nigerians despite popular opposition is reflective of a culture of insensitivity of the Nigerian government to the genuine needs of Nigerians in the water and other sectors of the economy.

While lamenting that the privatisation myth by the federal and state governments poses serious challenge to access to water, participants decried the fact that comprehensive data on both water infrastructure investment and access is lacking, thereby stifling planning for the now and the future.

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They also observed that the World Bank and other corporate powers are intensifying and aggressively promoting privatisation in Nigeria and Africa and define success of water policies only in terms of profit to corporations rather than universal affordable water access.

The gathering thus urged the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to respect the wishes of Nigerians and stop its promotion of the National Water Bill.

Similarly, the Nigerian government was asked to totally discard the National Water Bill and kickstart a fresh community-based process which will entail consultation with Nigerians from the initial stages through the entire process at the National Assembly.

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They called on the Federal Government to embrace public sector solutions in addressing the nation’s water challenges including the Public-Public-Partnership model and National Water Trust Fund which, according to them, have been tested and found effective in other climes.

They further recommended, saying: “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 our people with endless debts and increase in poverty.

“Need for comprehensive data on both water infrastructure investment and access to aid planning for the now and the future.

“Government at all levels embrace democratic decision-making in addressing water shortages. 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.

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

“Need for more public enlightenment on dangers inherent in the current Bill and mobilisation of Nigerians across board to support an alternative Bill which will incorporate all the concerns of communities.

“In address Nigeria’s water challenges government at all levels should include issues of workers welfare and capacitation.

“Civil society, labour, and communities’ adequate participation in any Public Hearing by the National Assembly in relation to the National Water Bill with the intention of promoting an alternative Bill.”

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