Say bill is anti-people, threat to national security
Tony John, Port Harcourt
A group representing Ijaw interests has rejected the National Water Resource Bill which is before the National Assembly, describing the legislation as ‘provocative’ and against the ‘fundamental rights of indigenous people’.
The group, the Ijaw Nation Development Group (INDG), issued a six-point communique signed by Denzil Amagbe Kentebe, Joseph Eva, Mr Elaye Otrofanowei, Mrs Ebiere Fumudor, Efiye Bribena, Mrs Rosemary Oduone, Iniruo Will (EMBASARA Foundation) and Dennis Banigo (Convener INDG), after a visual conference.
They said the Ijaw people have suffered environmental exploitation for several decades, saying that the bill was targeted at terminating their existence.
They warned that the bill poses a serious security challenge to Nigeria, condemning the Federal Government’s disregard for the fundamental rights of Ijaw people and the Niger Delta region.
‘Ijaw Nation rejects the passage of the bill in its present form, without it being open to public hearing, wide consultation and the fundamental concerns of ownership, control, management and use in favour of Federalism, Human and Peoples’ Environmental Rights,’ the group stated in the communique.
‘We, therefore, reaffirm our reject in its entirety, in the current form of the so-called “National Water Resource Bill” that is about to be passed by the ninth National Assembly.
‘The bill is fraudulent, odious and provocative, just like the Petroleum Act and Land Use Decree, which continue to deny the fundamental rights of indigenous people; giving that, the present Nigerian Constitution continues to be brazenly diluted and distorted, to serve the interest of a particular ethnic group.
‘The bill poses yet, another threat to the current security situation in the country. It is anti-people, insensitive, and a complete distortion to the basic tenets and principles of True Federalism,’ the group warned.
The people said they were open and willing to ‘engage, consult and negotiate, to reach a Bill for an act that protects her strategic interests, for the greater good of all Nigerians; “without sacrificing the fundamental rights issues of federalism, ownership, control, management and right to use, including sustainable use and environmental management.
‘We call on the Nigerian State and the Presidency, to emulate the practice of true federalism, as exemplified in India, Australia, Germany, Canada and the USA, where water regulation is left for the States to formulate, within a framework set by the Federal Agency.
‘We resolve to work with other Niger Delta and Nigerian nationalities, to ensure that we protect our nationalities and restore our federalism as Nigerians; from unitary intrusion and control, by hegemony and vested business and political interest.
‘We share the concerns of many Nigerian ethnic nationalities, who believe that the bill is part of a grand plot to take over their land, by finely worded legislation. That could be in fact, a machination in the Character of RUGA Settlement,’ the communique stated.