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Turmoil As House Speaker Withdraws National Water Resources Bill|The Republican News

The House of Representatives has withdrawn its controversial National Water Resources Bill, 2020.

The House was thrown into a turmoil on Tuesday, while considering a Matter of Privilege, raised by Rep. Benjamin Mzondu(PDP-Benue) to be heard on the contentious National Water Resources Bill, 2020.

Mzondu’s motion sought the withdrawal of the Bill, owing to the public outcry against it and its breach of House’ Rules.

In presenting his Matter of Privilege, Rep. Mzondu cited Order 6, Rule 1(1), 2 and 3, as he argued forcefully, against the transmission of the Bill to the Senate and its finally becoming law.

According to him, “I wish to refer to Order 6, Rule 1(1), 2 and 3 and Order 12, Rule 18 to state that I was deprived of my legislative Privilege of sighting a gazetted copy of the National Water Resources BillHB 921, and such could not participate in the consideration of the report by the Committee of the Whole, which also deprived me of my rights and privilege of representation to my people.

“Mr. Speaker, Hon. Colleagues, it is in the effort to eliminate the “Element of Surprise”, that the House in its wisdom, included in its Standing Rule, that every Bill, must be gazetted or clean copies circulated. It is important to note that the word emphasized here, is “gazette”, which means appearing in the Bills Journal of the House.

“The words used are clear and unambiguous, they ought to be given their ordinary meaning, as stated.

“Mr. Speaker, Hon. Colleagues, I was misled by the use of order 12, Rule 18 of our Standing Orders. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Colleagues, it is an issue of law and procedure, and Hon. Speaker, the onus of interpretation, lies with you. Where the Bill was labeled as Bill 2020, it was not considered as such.

“The laws lay, on your shoulder to interpret these rules as stated in Order 7 Rule 1(7). It is important to emphasize that I have painstakingly searched through all the journals of the House, and cannot find where the Bill is gazetted and I stand to be challenged or corrected.

“The next question for your consideration, Hon. Speaker, deals with jurisdiction, whether the House such powers to entertain a bill, such proceedings become a nullity, ab initio no matter how conducted and decided”.

” So having not met this condition, I wish to move, relying on Order8 Rule 8 and the above-stated rules, that “The House do rescind/expunge its decision of 23rd July 2020, which adopted the National Water Resources Bill, 2020 HB921 to have been read the Third time from our records”.

His latter prayers were granted, after a prolonged debate from both sides of the legislative divide, as the Speaker ordered for the withdrawal of Bill.

“Fundamental issues have been raised by Hon. Mzondu. He has backed them up, with a clear language, that such bills, must be re-gazetted”, Gbajabiamila said.

While the Deputy Speaker of the House, Rep. Idris Wase who argued against Mzondu’s position, stressed that the Bill followed due process in its passage.

Wase’s argument was buttressed by the sponsor of the Bill, Rep. Sada Soli (APC-Katsina), and the Chairman of the Rules and Business Committee, Rep.Hassan Fulata (APC-Jigawa).

Lawmakers, led by Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers), however, put up a strong defense for Mzondu’s submission, leading to the decision of the Speaker to Order for the withdrawal of the Bill, for a fresh gazetting.

Recall that the same Bill which was earlier introduced as Executive Bill was killed in the Senate, but passed in the House. The instrument, however, couldn’t be retransmitted to the Senate for Senate’s concurrence before the 8th Assembly lapsed. (Vanguard)

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No Going Back On Water Resources Bill, Says FG, As Southern, Middlebelt Leaders Vow To Kill The Bill

• It will never pass, Southern, Middle Belt leaders vow

By Sanya Adejokun and Bola Badmus – Abuja

THE Federal Government has said it is not going back on the National Water Resources Bill 2020 which it has re-presented to the National Assembly, adding that those opposing the bill are not conversant with its details.

The government also said contrary to speculations, the southern part of the country will benefit more than the North, because the largest proportion of freshwater supply in the country is from the North.

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu and his Information and Culture counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Tuesday, adding that there is nothing new about the bill since it is an amalgamation of water resources laws which have been in existence for a long time.

The laws include Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004, River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004 and National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004.

Mohammed said the laws were being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends, as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

“The overall objective of this amalgamation is the efficient management of the water resources sector for the economic development of the country and the well-being of its citizens.

The information minister said the bill does not seek to seize control of water resources from state governments because it is already on the exclusive list. He added that the Code of Practice for water well drillers issued by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the NWRI in 2010 already require commercial borehole drillers to obtain licence before proceeding with such activity.

“Please, note that borehole regulation is an international standard for abstraction of large volumes of water. Most countries in Africa and almost every developed country regulates commercial abstraction.

“It is also important to note that there is no requirement for licensing of domestic abstraction. Regulating abstraction of large volumes of water is necessary because groundwater abstraction is an activity that has environmental and ecological impact,” he added.

Mohammed also clarified that the bill does not negate the Land Use Act, because it clearly states that land required by any of the institutions established in the bill will be obtained in accordance with the Land Use Act (i.e with governor’s consent).

On the fear that the bill is aimed at taking the resources of a certain part of the country for the use of herders or that the Federal Government is seeking to implement RUGA by subterfuge, Mohammed said “this is not the intent of the bill and it is not even possible, as the bill reiterates the fact that land can only be acquired by any of the institutions established in accordance with the Land Use Act.”

Adamu, who presented a map of Nigeria to buttress his point, said the bill will ensure that no state government or large corporations deploy the country’s water resources in a way that will be detrimental to others.

According to him, the draft bill was ready to be presented to the National Assembly as far back as 2008 but ministers of water resources since then failed to forward it to the parliament for enactment.

“The initial draft was done in 2006 and the final draft was made in 2008. It went through a roadshow across the geopolitical zones before the final draft was adopted. For some reasons, my predecessors did not take the bill to the National Assembly,” he said.

Adamu said after he became minister, the National Council of Water Resources meeting of May 2016 had all commissioners responsible for water resources in attendance and they all endorsed the bill.

“From thereon, we took the bill to Federal Executive Council (FEC). FEC is made up of ministers from all the 36 states and the bill was approved by FEC,” he said.

Kicking against the move, however, the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) vowed that the bill would not sail through at the National Assembly.

The forum said it would deploy all within its powers to resist what it described as “internal colonialism.”

Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune on telephone through one of its leaders, Mr Yinka Odumakin, the forum said the bill would never pass because those behind it the intention is not good.

“The bill will never pass because those behind it have no good intention. All sections of Nigeria that they want to colonise will reject it and they will have to conquer them to have this domination,” Odumakin said.

Speaking further, Odumakin said the forum had already mobilised the National Assembly members from the southern and Middle-Belt parts of the country to oppose the bill. (Nigerian Tribune)

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