By G9ija

Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Public Services International (PSI) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) have urged Nigerians to mobilise against the National Water Bill being planned for representation to the National Assembly.

The groups stated this, yesterday, at a one-day parley organised by Labour, CSO and Communities’ Consultation on the National Water Bill 2020 in Lagos, insisting that the consultation was informed by the need for heightened engagement with critical stakeholders to again reaffirm opposition to the bill as the House of Representatives has perfected plans to represent it for consideration.

Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who spoke in company of Programmes Director of CAPPA, Aderonke Ige; National President of AUPCTRE, Benjamin Anthony; Vice Chair of Joint Action Front (JAF), Achike Chude; representative of PSI, Abi Badru, among others, noted that earlier opposition by groups and individuals led to Federal Government’s decision to step it down.x

He said solidarity among Nigerians, played a major role in forcing government to step it down, which unfortunately, is being planned for representation, hence the need for groups to continue mobilising and engaging to ensure that the will of the people prevailed.

In his keynote address titled: The National Water Resources Bill In The Age Of Remunicipalisation And Democratic Control Of Water Resources, Prof. Sofiri-Joab Peterside of the University of Port Harcourt, dwelt on how the Nigerian government continues to ignore the interest of Nigerians and instead always try to impose its will and false solutions on the people.

Following deliberations and contributions during panel sessions, participants observed that attempts to foist the Bill on Nigerians despite popular opposition was a reflection of government’s insensitivity to the needs of Nigerians in the water and other sectors of the economy.

They lamented that Federal Government and state governments’ acceptance of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) posed serious challenge to access to water, thus depriving communities of their basic right.

In a communiqué issued after the consultation, the groups urged the Federal Government to discard the National Water Bill and begin a fresh community-based process, which would entail consultation with Nigerians from the initial stage through the entire process at the National Assembly.

They added that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources should respect the wishes of Nigerians and stop promoting the toxic National Water Bill.

“The Federal Government should embrace public sector solutions in addressing the water challenges of Nigeria, including the PPP model and National Water Trust Fund, which have been tested and found effective in other climes.

“Privatisation, including the PPP model of water privatisation, has been proven to be a false solution globally that will only enrich a few and burden our people with endless debts and increase in poverty.

“There is the need for comprehensive data on water infrastructure investment and access to aid planning for the now and the future. As such, government at all levels should embrace democratic decision-making in addressing water shortages, while women and vulnerable groups should also be accorded priority in plans to guarantee access to clean water,” the communiqué reads.

While urging collaboration to stop the obnoxious bill, they charged civil society, labour and community groups to continue legislative engagement to ensure that government respect the will of the people, among other resolutions.