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Benue Will Oppose Any Plan To Pass Water Resources Bill – Ortom

 

ASUU Strike: Gov Ortom Asks FG To Honour Agreement

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue has said that the State is not in support of the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill in the National Assembly.

Recall that the bill sponsored by Hon. Sada Soli (APC – Katsina) was initially passed in 2020 by the House of Representatives but was later withdrawn following criticisms from some Nigerians.

The bill, which seeks to establish an act that would provide a regulatory framework for the nation’s water resources, was re-introduced on the floor of the Green Chamber and was rejected by two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers.

However, the bill eventually passed the first reading at the Green Chamber on Tuesday after the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the bill’s sponsor informed him that Governors and the Attorney-General of States, made input and agreed that the bill is reintroduced.

Reacting in a statement issued on Sunday his spokesman, Terver Akase, Governor Ortom said the bill is anti-federalism, obnoxious and negates the right of Nigerians to their ancestral resources.

The Benue governor asserted that the North Central state is against the bill and should therefore be counted out of any discussion that pertains to the bill.

He stressed that the bill seeks to take over water resources which rightfully belong to states, calling on other state governments to kick against the bill.

Ortom added that the bill is disguised land-grabbing legislation designed to grant pastoralists unhindered access to river basins, and adjacent marine and coastal environments across the country.

The statement reads: “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 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.”