The Federal Government says the National Water Resources Bill will be beneficial to all Nigerians, whenever it is signed into law.
The Minister of Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, said this on Tuesday at the National Consultative Conference on Water-Use Regulations, Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement Framework in Abuja.
Adamu said that the bill would regulate the water sector in the country, adding, however, that even though water laws had been in existence since 2006, the bill was drafted in 2008.
“I have made a statement on this bill to the media some time ago.
“Also, other stakeholders in the water sector have been commenting in the media, trying to explain what this bill is all about.
“It appears that many people have not even read about the bill; they don’t understand it before coming out to comment publicly about it.
“We have said that there is nothing new about it, as we have existing water laws; there are four existing laws that we have been consolidated into the new document.
“The laws include the Water Resources Act of 2014, the National Water Resources Institute Act, the River Basin Act and Nigeria Hydrological Services Act.
“We just introduced the concept of Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management, in line with the new water resources policy,’’ he said.
Adamu said that members of the Senate had asked all the relevant questions about the bill, while the key officials of the ministry had also responded to the enquiries.
He added that the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, had already set up committees to look at all the issues presented by the ministry concerning the content of the bill.
The minister commended the chairmen and members of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Water Resources for their interest and enthusiasm in the National Water Bill.
Adamu said that the conference was apt, as it would address some of the critical issues which were also captured in the bill.
“The conference is being organised at the right time; its theme is apt; this is further reinforced with the approval of the Water Use and Licence Regulation of 2016.
“This regulation has spelt out water licensable activities and gave the responsibility of issuing licences to the Nigeria Integrated Water Resource Management Commission (NIWRMC).
“The commission has drawn up relevant criteria for the issuance of such water permits for the corporate governance of the water sector in the country.
“The criteria are to protect, conserve, control water resources for equitable and sustainable socio-economic development as well as to maintain environmental integrity.
“Also, the criteria are to ensure that public water services were supplied efficiently and economically, in accordance with standards that reasonably meet the social, industrial and commercial needs of Nigerians across the nation,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Mr Reuben Habu, the Executive Director, NIWRMC, said that the regulation of the water resources sector derived its origin and power from Section 19 of the Water Resources Act.
Habu also said that there was nothing new in the National Water Resources Bill.
He noted that the bill was already before the National Assembly, adding that it was an amalgamation of all the extant laws on water resources in the country.
He said that NIWRMC, in the course of carrying out its statutory responsibilities, observed that there were some overlapping functions and responsibilities among different government agencies.
“The commission, therefore, saw the need to bring together all relevant stakeholders to rub minds and understand each other’s distinct roles and responsibilities.
“The commission also recognised the need to synergise for improved efficiency in water sector regulation in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Also, Dr Lawrence Anukam, Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), said that NESREA was also monitoring pollution as part of its mandate in the water resources sector.
Anukam said that the effort was to protect watersheds and catchment areas by controlling activities which were inconsistent with good land management practices in vulnerable areas across the country.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference, which was organised by NIWRMC, has “Regulating Water Resources for Sustainable Development in Nigeria’’ as its theme.