Explainer: Water Resources Bill

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The Water Resources Bill was first passed by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly on April 11, 2017. It was opposed by the Eighth Assembly on the grounds of being anti-people and would only amass more control of resources to the Federal Government as well as hinder the devolution of powers. However, the bill is set to be passed again to the NASS.

Although the bill aims to promote integrated water resources management and the coordinated management of land and water resources, surface water and groundwater resources, river basins, and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests there were various oppositions from different quarters over the weekend. While some think it will benefit the populace, others think there are selfish motives behind the bill, it is a revised version of  RUGA and grants herdsmen uncontrolled access to river basins, neighboring marine, and waterside environments across the country.

Here’s what you need to know

  • Prior to the passage of the Bill, Water laws were already in existence.
  • The existing laws – Water Resources Act of 2014, the National Water Resources Institute Act, the River Basin Act, and Nigeria Hydrological Services Act will be consolidated and harmonized.
  • Section 98 of the bill states that “the use of water shall be subject to licensing provisions”. That is, citizens will be refrained from using water resources at will.
  • Section 107 says that a license may be canceled if the licensee “fails to make beneficial use of the water”.
  • Section 120 of the bill makes it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole in their homes.
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