The Water Resources Bill at the National Assembly has joined the list of controversial proposed legislations generating outrage from Nigerians. Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka criticised the bill saying it gives the president “absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources”. What is it about this bill attracting such a wide public condemnation and allegations? We will explain why some of the provisions in the bill is generating wide outrage from Nigerians.
Section 98: Licensing Section 98 of the bill states that “the use of water shall be subject to licencing provisions.”
This simply means that anyone that wants to embark on any water project will have to get a license from a designated government agency.
Section 104: Emergency powers in case of shortage of water.
The bill will empower the government to “direct a person who has a supply of water in excess of his needs for domestic purposes to reduce the amount he is permitted to abstract under the terms of any license or general authorization.”
Section 107: License may be canceled
This section says that a license may be canceled if the licensee “fails to make beneficial use of the water.”
Section 120: Nigerians must get a permit before drilling boreholes.
Due to lack or ineffectiveness of the public water system, Many Nigerians fall back on a private water system, that is, drilling boreholes in their homes. However, Section 120 of the proposed water law makes it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole in their homes.
Section 125: Entry onto land in furtherance of duties.
“An authorized person’ may, at any reasonable time and on the production of their identity card or other instrument or certificate of designation if so required, enter a property with the necessary persons, vehicles, equipment and material in order to carry out routine inspections of the use of water or disposal of wastewater under any authorization.”
Section 131: Non-compliance
No person shall use water otherwise than as permitted under this Act.
In summary, the bill seeks to put control of water directly under the federal government and clip the wings of state and local government authorities. The bill if passed into law will also stop individuals from making use of the water in their backyard without a permit from the federal government.