The Senate, on Tuesday, rejected the controversial National Water Resources Bill, 2023 after it was listed for concurrence on the order paper for consideration and passage.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2017 presented the controversial bill to both chambers of the National Assembly, which seek to transfer the control of water resources from the states to the Federal Government.
The bill sought to establish the National Council on Water Resources, Nigeria Water Resources Regulatory Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, and the National Water Resources Institute. The proposed bodies, if established, were to “provide for the regulation, equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface water and groundwater resources.”
The rejection of the bill on Tuesday by the Senate put an end to the controversy generated by the bill among governors and federal lawmakers majorly from the southern part of the country. When the bill was read for concurrence on the floor of the Senate, Senator Gabriel Suswan from Benue North-West raised Order 85 of the Senate Rules, which provides that senators must have full details of the provisions of any bill coming for concurrence.
Senator James Manager from Delta South, who seconded Suswan, stressed the need to have details of the bill since provision was made for only the title of the bill. Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, later ruled in favour of the rule cited. The Senate, thereafter, withheld concurrence to the bill, having ruled in favour of those who opposed it.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives had passed the bill in 2020 amidst suspicion by members and the general public. Before the passage, Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli, said the then Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as commissioners for justice and attorneys-general of the 36 states of the federation, had been consulted and the opinions received would be attached to the bill and distributed to all members.