Nigeria: Waterways Bill Shows Govt’s Insensitivity to Plight of Nigerians – Afenifere

… Insists on return to federalism

THE pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, yesterday, described the insistence of the Federal Government to pass the repeatedly rejected Waterways Resources Bill into law as another instance of how the government is often hell-bent on going ahead with what the majority of Nigerians frown at while neglecting the ones Nigerians yearn for.

Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, faulted the latest statement by the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who said, among other things, that the Bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and groundwater for the use of Nigerians.

The minister described those opposed to the passage of the bill in its present form as ‘hysterical’.

But taking a swipe at this position, Afenifere said: “The Minister’s assertion smacks of arrogance and disdain for the people of Nigeria and insensitivity to the things that are of immediate concern to Nigerians.

“To Afenifere, it is unbecoming of a public officer to describe Nigerians as hysterical simply because they express their displeasure with a government policy. Secondly, given the fact that the attempts to pass this bill have been consistently rejected since its first mention in 2020 during the 8th National Assembly, it ought to dawn on the Federal Government that Nigerians are not ready to accept the Bill in its present form. Rather than acting as though it can force its plan down the throat of the people, what the government ought to do is listen to the people and adjust to their aspirations.

“But what have we been experiencing in the hands of government officials, especially those serving under President Muhammadu Buhari? Disdain, lack of respect for the people, and actions depicting the government as one of conquest rather than an elected one.

“How efficiently has it utilized the ‘surface and ground water’ of that territory for the benefit of Abuja residents? Beyond that, the Minister should inform Nigerians of instances where state governments – who have control over the lands in their respective areas – denied the federal government the opportunity to use land or water resources for the genuine benefit of the people in the said area.

“What we are saying is that the federal government has not demonstrated good faith and deed in areas within its control. So how can we trust it with those under the purvey of state and local governments?

“In addition to advising President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to forget the Waterways Bill, for now, we urge it to set the machinery in motion for the return of the country to true federalism as that would solve most of the problems that appear to be intractable in the country presently.”

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