Opposition senators Tuesday vowed to resist any attempt to reintroduce the controversial National Water Resources Bill 2020 in the Senate.
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, confirmed to Daily Trust Tuesday that the bill had passed first and second readings in the House and had been referred to the House Committee on Water Resources for further legislative action.
The eighth National Assembly had thrown away the bill because of the widespread outrage that trailed it when it was introduced.
The executive bill seeks to bring all the waters and their surrounding banks in all parts of Nigeria under the control of the federal government.
It states partly: “All surface water and groundwater wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people, the use of which is subject to statutory control.
“There shall be no private ownership of water but the right to use water in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
Various interest groups and individuals have kicked against the re-introduction of the bill and the speed with which it is being considered without being subjected to proper legislative scrutiny.
The Nigeria Labour Congress had said the passage of the bill would portend danger to national unity.
Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, Tuesday, said though the bill had not been presented in the Senate, it would suffer the same fate as the previous one.
He said: “We’ve not seen it in the Senate.
“When it comes we’ll reject as before.”
Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South) said she would never be part of any legislation that could injure majority of Nigerians.
She said senators would speak up against the bill when introduced or sent to the Senate for concurrence.
She said the fragile peace being experienced in the country would not be allowed to be destroyed by any legislation.
Olujimi said: “I’m not aware of that bill at all.
“However, anything that will injure our people, some of us will never be part of it.
“We’ll not allow any legislation to ruin the fragile peace we have in this country.
“We’ll not allow our fragile peace to be destroyed as a result of any political, personal or ethno-religious reasons.
“We won’t allow it because we’re one entity and we must fight for the people of Nigeria.
“The bill will require the concurrence of the Senate and when the time comes, we won’t let it just fly like that.”
Senator Gabriel Suswam (Benue) also spoke against the bill, saying it was not a good time for such piece of legislation.
He said: “Under our current circumstances where people no longer have confidence in policies and actions of government, it’s not a good time for such a bill.”
But the House Leader, Doguwa, told Daily Trust that before the House embarked on recess, the bill had been referred to the House Committee on Water Resources to conduct a public hearing on it.
He noted that the bill came from the executive through the Ministry of Water Resources.
Doguwa said when the House resumed from recess, the committee would conduct the public hearing after which the bill would be considered and passed to the Senate.
He said he expected his colleagues in the Senate to look at the bill with national interest and debate it critically when it is presented to them.
On the reports that some senators had vowed to reject the bill, Doguwa said he would not respond to what he described as a street rumour since the bill had not been presented to the Senate.