By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
THE apex socio-cultural organisation of the South-South geopolitical zone, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has urged the Federal government not to force the controversial National Water Resources Bill down the throat of Nigerians.
National Chairman of PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien wondered why the Federal government has decided to reintroduce the Bill again, even after Nigerian citizens have rejected it about two times.
Essien spoke while reacting to a recent statement by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu that some people were deliberately misleading other Nigerians because they failed to understand the provisions of the Bill which is in the interest of the citizenry.
Adamu was quoted to had said during a press conference last week that, “people ignorantly say what they don’t know about the Bill. We cannot just keep quiet while the Nigerian citizenry is being fed false narratives about what we are trying to do”
But reacting, the PANDEF Chairman noted that it is the Federal government that is trying to mislead the citizens because people who have read the provisions of the Bill and have come to understand that it is another way of reintroducing RUGA through the back door.
His words: “How can the Federal government want to own all the waterways? Once the Federal government has taken over the waterways it includes the associated lands around that stream, river, ocean. They are trying to take away the powers of the states in respect to land.
“The implication is that everything concerning waters will now belong to the Federal government. If that happens the Land Use Act would be affected.
”It means that a governor of a State will not have right or responsibility as it affects land in the area, because the Federal Government will say it is the owner, and all the banks of Rivers will be turned to RUGA settlement.
”So it is another way of trying to reintroduce RUGA through the back door, therefore it must be resisted. I was a Deputy Chief Whip in the senate and I have read through the Bill. I understand the process of lawmaking and the wordings of every law that is made.
“It is unfortunate that the present government does not recognize the feelings of people. They have pushed the Bill two times before and the people have rejected it two times. If you are pushing it again, it means you want to force it down the throat of people.
“Before people rejected the Bill initially, they had their reasons for rejecting it. It is a bill that has to be rejected, and we are rejecting it in totality. If they bring it ten times, it should be rejected ten times, if they bring it 100 times it must be rejected 100 times”