The Federal Government has been told to declare a state of emergency in the water sector.
The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) made the call in a joint statement issued to mark the World Water Day 2022.
The groups, who issued the statement in Jos, Plateau State, at a media session, called on the National Assembly to reject any attempt to reintroduce the stepped down National Water Resources Bill. The also asked the legislators to convene an emergency session on the water crisis in the country.
They urged the National Assembly to initiate the process for a truly Nigeria National Water Resources Bill with input from Nigerians and involvement of the Nigerian people from the beginning of the process through to when it becomes law.
“Federal and state governments avoid any secret MOUs and agreements that are used to arm twist them and disclose details of any thus far,” they stated, calling on Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi and all states of the federation to jettison their planned Public Private Partnership (PPP) and other forms of privatisation in the works.
Comrade Benjamin Anthony of AUPCTRE and Akinbode Oluwafemi of CAPPA submitted: “We have been at the fore of anti-water privatisation struggles in Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi and indeed the entire federation because experience from across the globe shows that water privatisers have no scruples and will steal and pollute our water and water sources.
“Privatisation has not increased universal access and it has not made water portable nor affordable. The harms of water privatisation have been well documented in India, Manila and even Flint in the United States, among a host of countries. We also observe with trepidation the growing number of MOUs that the Federal and State governments are signing in the water sector without due consultation with the Nigerian people.
“Lagos State Government signed one of such MOUs with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on water in 2021 and, till date, the details of what was agreed is not in the public domain. CAPPA has used the Freedom of Information Act to demand that the details should be made public but as we speak, nothing has come out of that effort.
“On another front AUPCTRE and CAPPA along with all members of the ‘Our Water Our Right Coalition’ have had to challenge the quest by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to foist the so-called National Water Resources Bill on Nigerians despite popular opposition. We have spoken out against this desperation which we see in the Federal Government to open our water resources to for profit-only entities. We have stalled the progress of the Bill thus far but there are feelers that its promoters are not ready to give up. We too will not.
“We will not allow water privatisation. Not in Lagos; not in Plateau; not in Bauchi and not anywhere in Nigeria. We will continue to advocate instead, for solutions within the public realm including the Public-Public-Participation and other innovative solutions such as setting up a Water Trust.”
The theme of the 2022 World Water Day, “Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible”, recognises the crucial role of ground water as the provider of almost half of all drinking water worldwide.