They promised to bring it back. Now, they have made good their threat. This time, it is coming through Sada Soli Jibiya, the member representing Jibiya/Kaita Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. The odious “Water Resources” Bill is back and already ruffling feathers.
This Bill was first introduced during the tenure of Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker, House of Representatives. It was comprehensively rejected and thrown out. In October 2020, the Bill was reintroduced under a National Assembly leadership that enjoys the support of the Muhammadu Buhari regime.
Again, the uproar it caused forced the sponsors to withdraw it “for better repackaging”. With less than eleven months to the end of the Buhari regime, another frantic effort to ram it through is being made. What is wrong with this Bill? Who is it being packaged to benefit? What dangers does it portend?
The Bill is meant to empower the Federal Government to control all water resources in the country such as rivers, streams, lakes and even underground water in all parts of the country and make same available for the benefit of “all people”.
This Bill is being seen as one of the many ploys that the Buhari government has devised to seize the lands and water resources of indigenous Nigerians for the benefit of Fulani who have been brought from all parts of Africa to settle in Nigeria as their home. Though the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, had last year claimed that the Bill was originally prepared by the Olusegun Obasanjo government, the Buhari government’s undisguised plots to grab Nigerian people’s lands for allocation to pastoralists is mainly responsible for the resistance. This agenda has come in the form of attempts to create Ruga, cattle colonies, grazing reserves and the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, all of which have been firmly rejected.
The Buhari regime’s critics accuse it of “condoning” the armed attacks on indigenous farming communities by herdsmen militias in Southern Kaduna; Benue and Plateau states; and the occupation of forests in the South by armed strangers of Sahelian origin as part of a grand agenda.
It seems as if we are being presented with the choice to give up our lands and water resources peacefully or face violence by pastoralist militias. A presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, once said that indigenous people should choose between their lands or their lives!
We call on the sponsors of this provocative Bill to withdraw it forthwith, failing which the lawmakers should once again throw it out. It not only clashes with the state governors’ constitutional powers over land matters, it will lead to endless armed conflicts. Nigeria, which is already gravely challenged security-wise, cannot survive the backlashes that could follow the passage of this Bill into law.