FG claims national water bill is constitutional
Following flood of criticisms trailing the passage of national water bill, the Federal Government has explained that it already has existing powers enshrined in the constitution to control and manage rivers across the country.
The executive Bill seeks amongst other things for exclusive control and management of Rivers and Lakes in Nigeria. It emphasised that the intent of the bill was rather misunderstood and misrepresented.
In a press briefing in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly matters (Senate) Senator Solomon Ita Enang explained that the intent of the bill was misunderstood by some lawmakers who kicked against it at the last stage of consideration.
“The National Water Resources Bill 2018, which was forwarded to the National Assembly in 2016 as an executive bill seeks to bring about conglomeration, amalgamation and consolidation of all the existing laws on control and management of water flowing from one state to the other, “ he said.
Enang explained further that the bill as misconstrued, does not intend to confer any new power on the federal government as regards management and control of water ways practices in the country but to harmonize all the laws and Acts into one document.
“Prior to the National Water Resources bill, various extant laws like the Water Act of 1993, National Water Resource Institute Act of 1985, River Basin Development Authority Act of 1986 and Nigeria Hydrological Act Services Agencies Establishment Act of 2010 have already in one way or the other given the right of control and management of Rivers to the federal government as constitutional provided for by item 64 of the exclusive legislative list in part 1 of the second schedule of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended”, he said .
The constitutional provision, according to him, states ,”The right to the use , management and control of all surface water and ground water affecting more than one State pursuant to item 64 of the exclusive legislative list in part 1 of the second schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 as amended , and as set out in the first schedule to this Act, together with the beds and banks , is vested in the provisions of this Act…” .
However, this bill was controversial and subsequently stepped down by the Senate last month. Many lawmakers argued that it was not right for the bill to just allow the federal government takeover all the rivers.
The lawmakers said: “The right thing should be for the bill to specify the rivers in Nigeria which the federal government should takeover.”
They further said the bill will create more controversy for Nigerians, since all the river waters in Nigeria cut across two or more states, which according to them , implies that the federal government will be in control of all the waters and resources thereof in Nigeria. But the committee on water resources, judiciary and legal matters has been mandated to look into the contentious areas of bill and report back to the senate.
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