Lagos State governor, Babajie Sanwo-Olu today, Tuesday, October 8, refused to show up at stakeholders’ dialogue forum on Lagos water crisis in Lagos, after giving his word that he would attend, thus fuelling the allegation from critics of water privatisation that his government is perfecting modalities to implement the anti-peoples project.
This is as rights activists Femi Aborishade, Comrade Sylvester Ejiofor, Comrade Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, Plan International Nigeria, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Environmental Rights Action (ERA) Achike Chude, Joint Action Front (JAF), among others noted in their presentations that privatisation of water amounts to undermining human rights, while urging government to embrace sustainable approach which is committed to the principle of public service rather than one driven by profit.
Comrade Akinbode (Deputy Director, ERA) who was one of the coordinators of “Our water, our right” project, organisers of the programme said that Sanwo-Olu was duly invited and with a response from his office that he would attend but later reneged.
He said Lagos State government had to fix their exco meeting today (Tuesday) intentionally to use it as an excuse not to attend the programme where Sanwo-Olu was expected to make a statement on where his government stands on the issue of water privatisation.
“We have it on good authority that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu dodged the programme so as not to make committing statement on his government’s position on Lagos water privatisation,” he told our correspondent.
Meanwhile, stakeholders at the forum which had labour leaders, academics, senior lawyers, rights crusaders, water development agencies etc, all submitted that government should not abdicate its responsibility to the private sector especially on critical issue like provision of water but rather it should improve on the provision of water infrastructure through enhanced budgetary allocation and be clear with its priorities on how best to fund water provision.
Dr Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, Plan International Nigeria, who gave his keynote on “The Lagos water crisis and the imperative for sustainable solution,” noted that “sustainable approach to the crisis will require commitment to certain principles that must recognise that there is social and cultural dimension to water, that the poor carry the disproportionate burden of water crisis, and that water through different UN resolutions has been declared a human right and should be made safe, sufficient, and hygienically accessible.”
Right activist, Aborishade said “it is sad that the government that should protect the people and provide adequate welfare services now conspire against the interest of the ordinary people,” just as he noted further that “water is life and life is water, so supplying public water should not place undue burden on the people.”