Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, on Thursday, said the controversies generated over the proposed National Water Resources Bill may not be unconnected with lack of proper understanding of its contents and merits by some stakeholders.
The Minister while drawing the attention of stakeholders in the Water sector to the importance of the proposed bill, in his opening remark at the 27th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources in Abuja, said: “Honourable Commissioners, as you are aware, the National Water Resources Bill has generated a lot of controversy by those who may not have proper understanding of its contents and merits.
“The debate over the Bill comes against the backdrop of a situation where the country’s health is being undermined by unsafe drinking water, its agriculture battling with under production, threatening our national food security, while the sources of water supply have been subjected to much abuse with the attendant threat on the environment.”
He said: “The Bill is therefore the manifestation of the government’s desire to ensure that the citizens derive maximum benefits from the country’s Water Resource endowments and potentials.”
The Minister explained that: “Contrary to the narrative of the naysayers, the Bill, which is the product of extensive national consultations, just consolidates four existing laws with the country’s international obligations to ensure the equitable and sustainable development, management, use and consideration of Nigeria’s Water Resources.”
He said: “It is therefore a holistic document that contains provision for the Establishment and Management of all the Agencies under the FMWR including the River Basin Development Authorities.”
He said when the bill is signed into law, it would establish “a regulatory framework for the equitable, beneficial, efficient and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of the country’s surface and ground Water Resources and other matters connected thereto.”
He added that it would also ensure that the nations Water Resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in ways which will take into account Citizens’ right of access to clean water and sanitation; meeting the basic human needs of present and future generations; adapting hydrological boundaries as the basic units for Water Resources management; protecting the water environment for sustainability of the resources and protection of aquatic ecosystems and recognizing the polluter pays principle.
Adamu said the law would equally provide for existing customary uses of water and avoidance of significant harm to other water user; support initiatives to reduce and prevent pollution and degradation of Water Resources; among other.
The Minister, while stating that the theme of the 27th Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources “Managing Water Resources Crisis: the Nigerian Experience” has been carefully chosen to take stock of milestones recorded within the last one year, challenges and the way-forward to deliver on our collective mandates, said: “In line with the concerted effort of the Federal Government towards achieving sustainable food production/security all year round, significant achievements have been recorded in irrigation development in the life of this administration. The focus is to complete as many on-going irrigation projects across the country with the target to increase the command areas under irrigation towards increased food production in line with the policy thrust of this administration.”
In their goodwill message, the Chairmen of Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Water Resources, Senator Bello Mandiya and Hon. Sada Soli, respectively both appealed for support from Nigerians and all stakeholders in the Water Resources sector to allow for easy passage of the Water Resources Bill, insisting that it does not confer undue advantage on the federal government over the states but it is indeed for the benefit of all.