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Ortom to FG: Water bill will deny citizens their rights, count Benue out

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Sunday frowned on the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill, insisting that Benue would not be part…

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Sunday frowned on the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill, insisting that Benue would not be part of it.

Ortom said the bill, which was reintroduced on June 29 at the House of Representatives by the Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli, from Katsina State, smacked the height of insensitivity.

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He posited that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had been consistently on a move to hijack all water resources in the country.

He stated that the president first sent the proposed law to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill on April 11, 2017.

The governor, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, said “The federal government’s insistence to take over the control of water resources across the country is tantamount to the suppression and enslavement of indigenous people of this country. 

“We fault the submission of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on the day the bill was reintroduced, that all governors contributed in the drafting of the new bill.

“We find it unconscionable, the speaker’s mention of Governor Samuel Ortom as one of those who endorsed the bill. Governor Ortom’s stand against cattle colonies, RUGA and the water resources bill has been consistent and he won’t shift his position now! 

“Coming at a time when Nigerians are clamouring for proper federalism, which entails devolution of powers to states and local governments, the introduction of a Water Resources Bill by the Buhari administration to deprive the people of their water resources is not only unfortunate but also smacks of insensitivity.

“We want to alert Nigerians again that if the National Water Resources Bill is passed into law, the rights of citizens over freshwater resources – ponds, lakes, rivers, streams and springs will be taken away with impunity. The bill will deny states and local government authorities as well as individuals the right to make use of the water in their backyard until they get permission from Abuja.

“We state unequivocally that Benue will not be part of the National Water Resources Bill! Our state should therefore be counted out of any discussion that pertains to the bill.”

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