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EXCLUSIVE: Water resources bill is dead — lawmakers don’t want it, says rep

EXCLUSIVE: Water resources bill is dead — lawmakers don’t want it, says rep
March 10
08:24 2023

The controversial National Water Resources Bill 2020 is “dead”, Sada Soli, a member of the house of representatives, has informed TheCable.

Soli, an All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker from Katsina state, is the chairman of the house committee on water resources.

The lawmaker said many of his colleagues are against the bill, and as such, it will never see the light of day.

“The bill is naturally dead,” Soli told TheCable.


The proposed legislation was reintroduced at the lower legislative chamber by Soli in June 2022.

The legislation seeks to establish an act that would provide a regulatory framework for Nigeria’s water resources sector, and among other other things, bring water resources — both surface and underground — and the banks of the water sources under the control of the federal government.

Since its reintroduction, many Nigerians, including civil society organisations (CSO), have kicked against the proposal and asked lawmakers to suspend legislative work on the bill.


The bill dates back to the eighth national assembly when it was first sent to the parliament by the executive.

TheCable had reported how the bill was passed in 2020 by the green chamber but was later withdrawn following criticism that trailed the decision of the lower parliament.


In 2022, when the bill was reintroduced in the current assembly (ninth assembly), opposition lawmakers kicked against it.


One of the lawmakers, Mark Gbillah from Benue, said a controversial bill of such nature shouldn’t be reintroduced without the contending issues addressed.

“I am aware that the matter listed for first reading — the National Water Resources Bill — generated a lot of controversies within this honourable house and even across the country and some of us wonder why this issue is still being represented on the floor of the house because some of us are not comfortable in support of this bill in the first instance,” he said.

Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, who presided over plenary at the time, said he raised the same question with Soli but was informed that governors were consulted.

“I asked the chairman the same thing this morning and he told me that the issues of controversy that were raised then have been addressed by all the governors,” Gbajabiamila said.


“Apparently, it is a new bill that all the governors of the federation, both south and north, participated in this bill and I want to take him by his word.

“I believe that you raised a very cogent point. We live in a very diverse country and everybody’s sensitivity must be taken into consideration. It is subject to the participation of all the governors because they govern their states they know what affects them and what doesn’t affect them.”


The speaker added that members of the house should be “extremely vigilant” on the debate regarding the bill when it comes up for second reading.

Dissatisfied with Gbajabiamila’s explanation, Gbillah said the responsibility of lawmaking rests on lawmakers and not governors.



In July, days after the bill was reintroduced, reports surfaced that northern lawmakers in favour of the bill were plotting to impeach Gbajabiamila if he fails to support the passage.


Amid the speculations, the northern caucus in the house of representatives addressed a press conference and denied the claim.

Idris Wase, deputy speaker of the house, had said “there is nothing like that going on to the best of my knowledge. I am a northerner”.


Speaking with TheCable, Soli explained that he is not the sponsor of the bill.

The lawmaker said the proposed legislation is an executive bill and he only presented it on the floor of the house because he is the chairman of the committee on water resources.

“It’s an executive bill, it was sent to the committee by the executive,” he said.

The legislator added that the bill has not been listed for second reading because “our colleagues don’t want it”.

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