Presidency and the national water resources bill

A high sense of objectivity, content which is devoid of subjective which is birthed from the pools of emotions and inordinate affections are some of the very important elements which are always expected from a refined and 21st century properly called modern day writer. It is a feature which is always employed by writers who seeks to make their position valid and generally acceptable with no ulterior motive to cause violence or instigate public rancor. However, the is a very herculean challenge for the average Nigerian writer, one who is born and bred in Nigeria, who from the point of childhood grows up to see the abundance and wide arrays of the natural and human resources that abounds in the nation, growing up with tall dreams and hopes of a better tomorrow and eventually lives daily to see the various pathetic challenges confronting the nation. Challenges which could have been better avoided if the active players of its political structure had chosen to imbibe a selfless and honest approach to governance, one that is devoid of greed or deceit; one that is aimed towards one goal which is the communal growth of all using the various varieties of resources that exist in the nation for the better good of all.

For writers such as this, writers like me, it is a painful task to churn up objective contents especially when it comes to the discourse of national context. This is because we are constantly part of the system, we are part of the ones who bear the brunt of the inefficient and unprogressive outcomes of the activities of the so-called leaders in the nation who has ever graced the nation’s leadership boat.

This is because, applying a phenomenological tool it might seem removing yourself or your emotions from influencing the flow of your content in order to retaining an objective outlook.

However, from a more different perspective, while we by the need of professionalism stick to uphold the tenets of objectivity in content, we consider it an advantage that we are part of the system, that we have a first-hand understanding and knowledge of the history of the nation Nigeria, the current tide and flow of its present discourse and an idea of where we are heading to as a nation. And as a result of this, we can tell the stories better.

For avid followers of the political discourse in the nation, the emergence of the incumbent president of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, was a national affair as a large chunk of the nation’s populace embraced the change mantra and came out to voting immensely to the eventual winner of the 2019 Presidential election as he made history by becoming the first presidential aspirant to defeat an incumbent President.

This was made possible with the identity which was created for the Daura born politician. He was adjudged to be a man of integrity, a trait that is missing from the behavioral and character of most Nigerian politician. This became his selling point as the media focused more on this to win the hearts of millions in the nation who were tired with the insincerity of its crop of leaders.

However, in the midst of all these accolades, there was one major ‘but’ in the heart of Nigerians across the Federation and this was the fear that Muhammadu Buhari might spear-head an Islamic agenda in the nation which might see to the eventual Islamization of the nation. While we cannot blame the doubt of the various Nigerians who cannot but subscribe to this though all because history was not on the side of President Muhammadu Buhari.

While there were propagandas against President Muhammadu Buhari many of which people easily dismissed, but they had to give a second thought to the Islamization agenda however the emergence of the Prof. YemiOsinbajo as his running mate quenched these various notions, for he had not just picked a Christian, he had picked from the largest church in the Nation and from the confines of one of the most respected man of God in the history of the nation, Pastor E.A Adeboye. Even when he was elected and he had to appoint a new Chief of Staff to replace the late Abba Kyari, many Nigerians stated that this was another plot for President Muhammadu Buhari to use his new Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari to push and execute his plan to Islamize the nation. Although these allegations have no iota of truth as they have not been proven to be valid or to have any truth claims by anyone. However, it will be actually wise for the president to desist from making decisions that will cause or incite national violence and unrest.

If there is anything anyone should note or acknowledge especially those within the corners of powers. The Nigerian nation is like a landmine, any wrong step might prove to be a disastrous one and this is as a result of the national outlook of the nation Nigeria.

While there are many other salient issues which the president could have attended to, he has over the years since his assumption into office as the president of Nigeria instigated ideas that holds the potency to cause religious and ethnical cum tribal unrest within the Nigerian structure.

Notable among these was the proposed plan to have a Ruga settlement in the nation which was proposed to address the incessant cases of the Fulani cattle men who has taken to all part of the nation to rear their cattle’s causing and wreaking havoc on the farmlands of many Nigerians in different states of the Federation while it causes conflict between these Fulani nomadic herders and the Nigerian farmers in their respective states which has led to the death of thousands in the last few decades.

While it took so long for the heat created by this plan to die down as most people thought that this plan was nothing more than an attempt by the Muhammadu Buhari led administration to establish Fulani in all states of the Federation where they can create a colony for themselves and from there start their Islamization agenda while others thought that it was just another attempt to grab lands away from the respective states in the federation.

While this left, the recent move from the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration made the proposed Water Bill in Nigeria which many has deemed suspicious and a canny attempt to allow the Northern part of the nation assume power over the nation and over a resources that they do not have.

According to the details of the Water Bill, the Bill seeks to bring all water resources (surface and underground) and the banks of the water sources under the control of the Federal Government through its agencies to be established by the Bill.

Section 13 of the Bill, states, in implementing the principles under subsection (2) of this section, the institutions established under this Act shall promote integrated water resources management and the coordinated management of land and water resources, surface water and ground water resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.

Section 2(1) of the Bill, says: All surface water and ground water wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people.’

It will be recalled that National Water Resources Bill was earlier introduced to the National House of Assembly [NASS] in the year 2018 but was later disallowed by the Legislative body.

With the re-introduction of this bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, it has been claimed by many that for the president to have returned the bill, there must be an ulterior intention for fronting this bill which seem with the way it has been pushed like an important one for the president. And the clandestine attempt and plot to push the bill through the National Assembly reeks greatly of an unknown plot and hidden program.

The Bill was initially introduced to the 8th senate and when it was introduced the first time, it ensued various arguments across the 36 states of the federation as many people commented that the bill was introduced because of the plan of the federal government of Nigeria to have the total control and authority over the lands and water resources in the country. This   opinion by the people further created more insinuation that the national water resources bill was a further plan by the federal government to intensify on its effort to forward the agenda of the Fulani Cattle herders by taking control of the lands and its resources by a government which is mostly dominated by the Northerners and in return give them to the Cattle herders in Nigeria.

While nothing has been proven with these various allegations and opinions, the re-introduction of the bill has further hiked the worries of various Nigerian has they have taken to the public platforms to express their thoughts and honest opinions about the bill.

Reacting to the bill, Nigerians Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka stated that if the National Assembly eventually passes the National Water Resources Bill into law, then the nation Nigeria is doomed while also urging the whole Nigerian populace to reject the bill.

Also reacting to the bill, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom reached put to the Nigerian Lawmakers to reject the National Water Resources Bill which he said is not in the best interest of the country. He described the bill as another prototype of the rejected Ruga settlement was intended to take away state lands for cattle herders.

He also explained that the bill by the federal government of Nigeria under the leadership of president Muhammadu Buhari which seeks to take away the right of people to claim their God-given lands and waters (both under the earth and on the surface) is anti-Federalism.

The Nigerian Labor Congress[NLC] has also spoken against the Natural Water Resources Bill which they claimed is in not the best interest of the Nigerian nation, according to them they stated that, we equally warn against legislative abuse or betrayal of Nigerians as this is what it will amount to if the bill is passed or caused to be passed without public engagement and scrutiny. Already, the sentiments expressed against this bill are too grave to be brushed off.

The body also advised the Nigerian national legislative body which is the national assembly to act in the interest of Nigerians by rejecting the bill, preventing it from any further progress.

Analyzing the various opinion of Nigerians on the Natural water resources bill, it is obviously clear and evident that Nigerians are not comfortable with the bill. The recent weeks in the history of the nation Nigeria has seen the populace not being happy with the various decisions of the federal government. The hike in electricity tariff and the increase in fuel price in the nation all which were done within the space of 24 hours. With the nation going through a critical time as this, there is a need for the president of Nigeria to ensure that it gets it acts right by ensuring it engages in activities which are tailored towards the better good of all. This is not a time for the nation to be engaged in activities that pitch them against the Nigerian populace who elected them to serve their interest. The federal government of Nigeria needs both its efforts and the effort of its populace to ensure that it successfully sail through this period without any hitch.

The Nigerian nation is a highly sensitive one, it is a multi-cultural environment which houses various ethnics groups, judging from the pages of the nation’s national history books, the federal government must understand the need for it to shy away from activities or laws that are capable of creating rancor and ethnical conflicts among its populace.

Also given the easy birth insinuation regarding the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari has having a tendency to bring about policies that will see to the Islamization of the nation, it will be appropriate and wise for his government to focus more on issues that are less likely to generate controversies in this regards while it focusses more on other developmental efforts.

The nation Nigeria is plagued with various issues and challenges which needs urgent and drastic intervention. From the issues of insecurity in many part of the nation, to economic instability and a possible occurrence of a recession, one which is predicted by the World Bank to be the biggest in 40 years among a beehive of challenges, the Federal government must ensure and set an agenda of projects and initiatives that will not only make life easier for its populace but also ensure that the national unity and integration of its populace is successful.

By Marcus Amudipe

September 6, 2020

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