The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, says the intent of National Water Resources Bill 2018 is misunderstood by Nigerians and lawmakers who kicked against its passage in Senate.
Enang, who made this known while briefing newsmen on Friday in Abuja, said the misunderstanding of the Bill accounted for its rejection at the Senate.
He said the Executive forwarded the Bill to National Assembly in 2016 and that it sought to bring about consolidation of all existing laws on control and management of water flowing from one state to another.
He explained that the bill did not intend to confer any new powers on the Federal Government with regard to management and control of waterways.
The president’s aide said that the essence of the bill was to harmonise all the laws and Acts into one document, adding that it was to ensure that Nigeria’s waterways practice was in tandem with global practice.
He said that prior to the National Water Resources Bill, various extant laws like the Water Act of 1993 and National Water Resource Institute Act of 1985 gave the right of control and management of rivers to the Federal Government.
Others in that category, he said, were River Basin Development Authority Act of 1986 and Nigeria Hydrological Act Services Agencies Establishment Act of 2010.
Enang pointed out that the government was empowered by the 1999 Constitution with right to the use, management and control of all surface water and ground water affecting more than one state.
He said that such power was in pursuant to item 64 of the Exclusive Legislative list in part one of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Enang said the purpose of his explanation was not to argue against or condemn the Senate for stepping down the bill, but to make Nigerians know that there was no sinister motive behind the bill.
The National Water Resources Bill 2018 was stepped down on May 24 when it came up for third reading.
The bill seeks to establish regulatory framework for the water resources sector to provide for equitable and sustainable development.
It is also meant to ensure the management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface and ground water resources, among other things.