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Disturbing the Waters- Return of the Water Resource Bill

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They stated it would return, and they were not kidding. They have now acted on their threat. This time, it is coming from Sada Soli Jibiya, a member of the House of Representatives from Jibiya/Kaita Federal Constituency. The abhorrent “Water Resources” Bill is back and causing controversy.

When Yakubu Dogara served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, this bill was initially introduced. It was outright dismissed and rejected. The Bill was reintroduced in October 2020 by National Assembly leadership with backing from the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Once more, the controversy it generated compelled the sponsors to remove it “for better repackaging”. Another desperate attempt to ram it through is being made with fewer than eleven months left in the Buhari administration. Why is this Bill flawed? Who does it serve as its intended audience? What threats does it signal?

The purpose of the Bill is to give the federal government the authority to manage all of the nation’s water resources, including its rivers, streams, lakes, and even its underground water, and to make them accessible for the benefit of “all people.”

This Bill is perceived as one of the numerous schemes the Buhari administration has developed to take control of indigenous Nigerians’ lands and water supplies for the benefit of Fulani, who have been transported from all over Africa to make Nigeria their home. Although Suleiman Adamu, the minister of water resources, had asserted last year that the Olusegun Obasanjo administration had originally drafted the bill, the Buhari administration’s overt plans to seize Nigerians’ lands and give them to pastoralists are mostly to blame for the resistance. The National Livestock Transformation Plan, or NLTP, as well as attempts to establish Ruga, cow colonies, grazing reserves, and other forms of this agenda have all been vehemently opposed.

The Buhari administration’s detractors charge that as part of a larger plan, it “condoned” the armed assaults on native farming communities by herdsmen militias in Southern Kaduna, Benue, and Plateau states, as well as the occupation of forests in the South by armed strangers with Sahelian ancestry.

It appears that we are being given the option of peacefully ceding our lands and water resources, or we will be subject to the aggression of pastoralist militias. Femi Adesina, a spokesperson for the president, once claimed that native people should decide between their lands and their lives.

We urge the authors of this inflammatory Bill to immediately rescind it; else, parliamentarians ought to reject it once more. It will spark endless wars and infringe on the constitutional rights of state governors over land issues. Nigeria, which already faces severe security challenges, is unable to withstand the repercussions that could result from the approval and eventual enforcement of this Bill.

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