The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, is working with the National Assembly and Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to guarantee that the National Water Resources Bill is passed by the Federal Executive Council.
Initially introduced in the 8th Assembly in 2017, the bill sought to transfer the control of water resources from states to the Federal Government, which prompted outrage from many Nigerians, including Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana (SAN) and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.
Owing to this outcry, the bill was not passed by the 8th Assembly, and was later reintroduced by Sada Soli on July 7, 2020. It was reconsidered and passed on July 23, 2020 before being thrown out again later that year due to claims that the procedure for passing the bill was flawed.
The present administration has since reviewed and updated the bill to include the activities of the Water Resources Commission, in a bid to ensure that it is passed by the federal council.
Civil society organisation (CSOs) and concerned stakeholders in the water sector have described the newly proposed bill as toxic and anti-people and claim that it could lead to privatising the water sector, and therefore worsening the already poor and limited access to potable water.
According Adamu, domestic water usage under the new bill will be free, however commercial usage will be chargeable, which difference will supposedly help to: “maintain other infrastructure and meet the budgetary allocation on water”.
In response to the growing concerns, the water minister assured: “There are so many benefits attached to it. There are so many projections on water demand by Nigerians and it is through the development of the identified projects and programmes that we will be able to meet up with all the demands for water supply, hydro power generation, irrigation for food security, access to potable water and good hygiene.”