The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) have urged the federal government to preserve groundwater for a sustainable environment.
The groups, therefore, warned the federal government against privatising the water sector, saying it would not be for the good of the citizenry.
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In a joint speech at AUPCTRE’s sixth quadrennial national delegates’ conference in Jos, Plateau State, the President of AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, and CAPPA’s executive director, Comrade Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the government should declare a state of emergency in the water sector.
The duo said as bodies at the forefront of anti-water privatisation struggle in Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi and other states, they would not allow any inimical policy in the water sector to sail through.
They explained that Nigeria’s water policy was anti-people, as experience had shown that privatisation had not increased universal access and had not made water potable or affordable, pointing out that the quest by the federal ministry of water resources to foist the National Water Resources Bill on Nigerians would be resisted.
In a joint statement, they said, “There is no doubt that the preservation of our groundwater is the solution for people without access to safe water. Despite this important fact, human activity, especially the grabbing of our water sheds is rapidly increasing the pressure on groundwater resources in many parts of the world and particularly in Africa.
“Here in Nigeria, AUPCTRE and our partners in the civil society space, particularly CAPPA, have been fighting for the protection of our groundwater and indeed our entire water resources. We have been at the fore of anti-water privatisation struggles in Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi and indeed the entire federation because experience from across the globe shows that water privatisers have no scruples and will steal and pollute our water and they have not made water portable nor affordable.
“The harms of water privatisation have been well documented in India, Manila and even Flint in the United States, among other countries. We also observe with trepidation the growing number of MOUs that the federal and state governments are signing in the water sector without due consultation with the Nigerian people. Lagos signed one of such MOUs with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2021 and till date, the details of what was agreed is not in the public domain.
“CAPPA has used the Freedom of Information Act to demand that the details should be made public but as we speak, nothing has come out of that effort. On another front, AUPCTRE and CAPPA along with all the members of Our Water and Our Right Coalition have had to challenge the quest by the federal ministry of water resources to foist the National Water Resources Bill on Nigerians despite popular opposition.
“We have spoken out against this desperation which we see in the federal government to open our water resources to profit-only entities. We have stalled the progress of the bill thus far but there are feelers that its promoters are not ready to give up. We too will not.
“We will not allow water privatisation; not in Lagos; not in Plateau; not in Bauchi and not anywhere in Nigeria. We will continue to advocate instead, for solutions within the public realm, including public-public participation and other innovative solutions such as setting up a water trust.”