Opinions of Niger Deltans should be considered, says legal practitioner opposing Water Resources Bill

Yenagoa—A legal practitioner based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Dortimi Kester Tawari has said the National Water Resources Bill if passed into law would undermine the powers of the states in the country and threaten the Nigeria’s unity.

He said the now controversial proposed legislation is characterized by ambiguity, confusion, and clauses that are not favourable to the country’s unity.

Tawari stated this while having an interactive session with newsmen at the Bayelsa State Secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Thursday.

He said the amended version of the bill is a revised version of the military decree initiated in 1993 under the Ibrahim Babangida-led military regime.

He said, “The present administration introduced politics and the proposed bill will usurp the powers of the governors under the Land Use Act.

“It now proposes that the Land Use power will now be under the control of the Federal Government. If they have amended it, they should bring it to the people.

“The water Resources Bill has lots of ambiguity, confusion, and a treasonable. The Bill will tear our fragile unity.

“They have taken the crude oil, water, and the lives of the people. It is obnoxious and wicked to the Niger Delta and the Ijaw nation. The Bill raised lots of suspicions.”

Tawari who is also an environmentalist and a member of the Ijaw Community Law Review Group questioned the intent of the bill and that of the sponsor.

“Why is it that the bill is introduced at the time of our political life? We should look where the bill is coming from. How can a non-elected person come up and said because it is an executive Bill, it must be passed?

“And to tell you how far the sponsor of the Bill will go for the bill to be passed. We have seen the threats even against the speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, that if the Bill is not passed, they will impeach him. That is the most mundane act from those involved.”

“Secondly, the proposed Bill calls for attention and curiosity. Why is it that the Bill of such magnitude is introduced at this time of our political career? Having had the experience in the past where the Bill was rejected twice.

“Why is it coming now? Considering the pressure and the speed, why haste? What is happening? Why so much venom? We should be circumspect about the Bill.

“What we have heard and read, shows there is something underneath. They have consulted widely and listen to opinions of stakeholders on the Bill on an item like water.”

He said the opinions of Niger Deltans should be taken into consideration since the bill seeks to control water resources which he said is a major feature of their environment and source of livelihood.

“Water is not oil. Water is not gold. Water is different. Water is life. Water is the livelihood. It depends on where you are in the geography. For us in the Niger Delta, water is life.

“We drink water and live by the water. And everything about us is water. Therefore, any legislation bordering on water is a legislation that will touch on our life.

“And if you want to control water, the people affected must be listened to. Not just listening to them but put their passion into consideration. The socio-cultural dimension in the legislation must be considered,” Tawari said.

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