Governor of Benue, Samuel Ortom, has said that the state didn’t participate in the drafting of the national water resources bill reintroduced in the national assembly.
According to governor Ortom, the state is opposed to the bill.
The bill sponsored by Sada Soli, an All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker from Katsina state, which seeks to establish an act that would provide a regulatory framework for the nation’s water resources passed first reading at the house of representatives on Tuesday.
The green chamber had passed it in 2020 but was later withdrawn following criticism that trailed the decision of the lower parliament.
Reacting in a statement released on Sunday by Terver Akase, his chief press secretary, Ortom noted that Benue is against the bill and will not be part of any discussion in support of it.
“The bill which seeks to bring all water sources (surface and underground), as well as river banks under the control of the Federal Government through its agencies is anti-federalism and negates the right of Nigerians to their ancestral resources,” the statement reads.
“The bill, in addition to its provisions which are grossly at variance with the Land Use Act, is disguised land-grabbing legislation designed to grant pastoralists unhindered access to river basins, adjacent marine and coastal environments across the country.
“The bill is another version of ruga and cattle colonies whose objective is to create grazing areas in the 36 states of the federation for herders and their livestock.
“We fault the submission of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on the day the bill was reintroduced, that all Governors contributed in the drafting of the new bill. We find it unconscionable, the Speaker’s mention of Governor Samuel Ortom as one of those who endorsed the bill.
“Coming at a time when Nigerians are clamouring for proper federalism which entails devolution of powers to states and local governments, the introduction of a Water Resources Bill by the Buhari administration to deprive the people of their water resources is not only unfortunate but also smacks of insensitivity.
“Initiators of the obnoxious National Water Resources Bill are not only insensate but have also shown crass abhorrence of Nigeria’s unity as well as the current mood of the nation when people are slaughtered in their homes and even the clergy are not spared by terrorists. Shouldn’t the Presidency be more concerned about proffering a lasting solution to the orgy of killings across the country?
“We want to alert Nigerians again that if the National Water Resources Bill is passed into law, the rights of citizens over fresh water resources – ponds, lakes, rivers, streams and springs will be taken away with impunity. The bill will deny states and local government authorities as well as individuals the right to make use of the water in their backyard, until they get permission from Abuja.
“We state unequivocally that Benue will not be part of the National Water Resources Bill! Our state should therefore be counted out of any discussion that pertains to the bill.”