One of the most controversial bills the outgoing government of President Muhammad Buhari has been trying to push through the National Assembly, NASS, is the National Water Resources Bill.
The bill has gone through some window-dressing and metamorphosis, coming out with thickening opposition from state governments, groups and individuals irrespective of the name given to it.
In another major setback to the bill, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has rejected the bill, describing it as an evil that must be thrown away in its entirety.
The rejection of the bill followed a motion presented by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, at the 13th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference, NDC, of NLC in Abuja.
In the motion on Rejection of National Water Resources Bill and Water Privatization, AUPCTRE informed that “an Executive Water Bill is before the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The bill is intended to privatize Water and regulate its production and supply to give the Federal Government of Nigeria the monopoly to control Water and make it inaccessible to the people.
“Water is a human right, Life, Health, and Food. Water is also important for domestic use, sanitation, and the performance of ablution, agricultural purposes, and other cultural usages. Therefore, it is evil for any government to privatize or commercialize water. Nigerian Governments i.e. Federal, State, and Local Governments have formed an unholy alliance to privatize water, sell it to their political cronies and make it inaccessible and unaffordable to Nigerians.
“The Nigerian Government has been using water to receive huge sums of international donations and loans in the name of water production and distribution. To our dismay, these various financial assistance have not improved the water situation in Nigeria. The funds were mismanaged as a result of which the projects were not completed.
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the following states are vigorously pursuing Water Privatization: the states include but are not limited to Lagos, Imo, Bauchi, Rivers, Anambra, Plateau, Benue, Ogun, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Delta, etc in spite of the vehement opposition of the Union, Public Service International, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, as well as masses of Nigeria who are against water privatization.
“The NDC-In-Session, therefore, is urged to resolve that the National Assembly should jettison further deliberation on the current water bill presented to it by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the bill be withdrawn while a process that will be all-inclusive be put in place to have an acceptable water bill.
“It is the responsibility of governments to provide water for their citizens for their good health at affordable cost.
“Labour Unions, in collaboration with some Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, such as PSI, CAPPA, and other social partners should sustain the campaign and pressurize the government to drop the idea of water privatization.
All the state governments that have privatized their water should reverse the decision.
Privatisation of public utilities
Similarly, in another motion on Privatization of Public Utilities, the Union noted that “the Federal Government of Nigeria has privatized key state-owned enterprises and public utilities such as electricity, NITEL, among others, instead of finding means of funding them and making them viable to generate income for the government and create employment for our people.
“The privatization of public utilities has continued unabated in spite of the public outcries and campaigns against privatization. Privatization of public utilities now in the hands of the capitalists has not improved service delivery to the populace. It is a mere transfer of public wealth into the hands of private individuals.”
AUPCTRE urged NDC-In-Session to resolve that “Governments at all levels should stop the privatization of public utilities and enterprises unconditionally.
“The NDC-In-Session condemns in its entirety all forms of privatization and that all the public assets that have been sold should be recovered, funded, and managed by public institutions to enable Nigerians to enjoy the dividends of democracy and good governance.
“Organised Labour in collaboration with NGOs, National and International Civil Society Organisations to intensify efforts in the campaign against privatisation with a view to pressurising the government to shun privatisation.” The two motions were adopted overwhelmingly by the NDC-In-Session.