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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Rivers Day: Group seeks legal backing for rights to waterways

The Foundation for Conservation of Nigerian Rivers (FCNR) has presented two draft bills to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

River Ethiope
The River Ethiope

The presentation was made on Monday, September 23, 2019 as part of events for the World Rivers Day that was officially observed on Sunday, September 22. It had “Waterways in our communities” as its theme.

The two draft bills are River Ethiope Rights Bill and Nigeria Rights of Rivers Bill.

Head of FCNR, Prince Irikefe Dafe, said: “Nigeria is one of the countries in the world with rivers in various stages of degradation and with no adequate and deliberate efforts to reverse the trend.  Every day, the country is losing this precious resource to pollution due to industrial and human activities, urban development as well as climate change, among other factors.

“Today, no river in Nigeria meets the water qualities standard stipulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) either for swimming, fishing and drinking purposes. In every community in Nigeria today, the rivers that used to be a source of drinking water, swimming and other aquatic activities have ceased to play these vital roles to mankind due to pollution.

We must redefine our concept of development as a nation, to note that developmental progress that will not accord rivers and waterways their required attention to sustainably support human societies will not only be lopsided but transient.  It will not be an over statement to say that the state of any river one sees in any community is a practical reflection of the mindset of the people and activities they undertake daily within a river catchments and watersheds.”

According to him, the River Ethiope in Delta State is the only river that has a Foundation established to promote its judicious use and conservation as opposed to the USA or Australia and most parts of Europe that have all their water bodies under protection.

He added that Nigeria’s current efforts at economic progress and other developmental aspiration may be frustrated soon if deliberate and urgent attention is not given to sustainable management of its rivers.

World Rivers Day is a global celebration of the world’s waterways, observed on the last Sunday in September. Established in 2005, it highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness while encouraging the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.

Rivers in every country face an array of threats, and World Rivers Day promotes the active involvement of citizens to ensure the health of rivers in the years ahead.

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