The governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has kicked against supposed attempts by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to return the National Water Resources Bill rejected by the public in 2018.
The governor appealed to members of the National Assembly not to accept the bill for the interest of Nigeria, alleging that the bill was a “disguised land-grabbing legislation designed to grant pastoralists unhindered access to river basins, adjacent marine and coastal environments across the country.”
Ortom, in a statement on Saturday by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Terver Akase made reference to Section 13 of the bill. The section states, “In implementing the principles under subsection (2) of this section, the institutions established under this Act shall promote integrated water resources management and the coordinated management of land and water resources, surface water and groundwater resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.”
The governor argued that there was something fishy with the reintroduction of the bill, adding that those who would want the legislation passed into law by all had a covert motive which was not yet clear to many Nigerians.
“He says the bill, in addition to its provisions which are at variance with the Land Use Act, is a disguised land-grabbing legislation designed to grant pastoralists unhindered access to river basins, adjacent marine and coastal environments across the country.
“The governor maintains that the bill is another version of Ruga, whose objective is to create grazing areas in the 36 states of the federation for herders and their livestock.
“He commends socio-cultural organisations such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze, and Middle Belt Forum for speaking against the reintroduction of the bill at the National Assembly.
“Governor Ortom urges the federal lawmakers to act as true representatives of the people for the sake of posterity, and to remember that the destiny of the country lies in their hands,” the statement read in part.
Ortom, therefore, urged the Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila led 9th National Assembly to honourably toe the same path the 8th National Assembly toed by rejecting the bill.
Ortom’s opposition to the bill came two days after Professor Wole Soyinka also kicked against the supposed attempts to return the rejected bill to the National Assembly.
“This bill – Bill on National Water resources 2020 – is designed to hand Aso Rock absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources, both over and underground,” Soyinka had said.
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