The National Assembly has been asked to jettison the proposed National Water Resources Bill in the interest of peace and security of Nigerians.
In a statement yesterday, Fatherland, a group of Nigerian professionals at home and in the Diaspora, said the proposed bill posed potential threat to the livelihood of indigenous communities in Nigeria.
Leader of the United Kingdom-based group with members spread across five continents, Dele Ogun, cited the ongoing killings in Southern Kaduna, arguing that the bill, if passed into law, would spur violent conflicts between forest-dependent peoples in Nigeria and pastoralists who might be empowered by the law for unimpeded access to traditional water resources.
According to Fatherland, for many traditional communities, water resources are not only linked to their spiritual survival but also to biodiversity and the relationship in the ecosystem, adding that any attempt to take away control of those resources is akin to usurpation of their right to life.
It stated: “We share the concerns of well-meaning Nigerians about the inauspicious timing of the National Water Resources Bill and the desperate and underhand measures being deployed to push it through, despite serious objections raised by citizen groups across the country.”
“This is against the backdrop of the palpable failure of the Nigerian government to address the crisis in Southern Kaduna, the underlying cause of which is the communal sharing of access to surface water and grazing lands for livestock.”
Ogun said the policy would further fuel public anger by the fact that “the Federal Government under Buhari established a notoriety for sectarianism and nepotism, exemplified by its flagrant disregard for the principle of equity in key federal appointments.”