Water Resources bill is dead on arrival, will cause anarchy if… —Mulade, Gbaramatu Kingdom chief

September 25, 2020
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Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Gbaramatu Kingdom chief and National Coordinator of the Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), speaks to EBENEZER ADUROKIYA on Federal Government’s National Water Resources Bill and other national issues.

The Federal Government, through Lai Muhammed, recently said there was no going back on the National Water Resource Bill 2020 while groups such as the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) through its Secretary General, Tony Uranta, gave the government 14 days ultimatum to withdraw the bill from the National Assembly. As an advocate of peace and justice, what’s your take? 

The National Water Resources Bill 2020 is dead on arrival because the bill does not accommodate the interests of the people, especially in the coastal areas. If the bill comes to the limelight, all waters, river banks, even boreholes in your own compound will be regulated by government. Ordinarily, in a developed society, in a society that everything is working, government has the prerogative to regulate and control every water and water bodies, but with the situation in Nigeria, it is not possible. For government to continue to insist that this bill must be passed by all means is unnecessary; government must present a bill that is people-oriented. You cannot force the bill on the people and that’s why I said the Bill is dead on arrival. This bill was presented in 2018, it was vehemently rejected by the people and now you’re re-imposing the bill on the people again without the input of the people. What the bill tends to achieve is just to the benefit of the government and those who are in government today who think and who feel that they are proposing the Bill for the betterment of Nigeria but on the other way, we are the supposed beneficiary of the Bill considered as anti-people Bill and that’s why we’re saying that government should step it down and carry out thorough orientation, thorough sensitisation of the people, underscoring the benefits. It is not enough to force the bill on the people. So I want to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the yearnings of the people. The National Assembly should listen to the people on this bill because this bill will amount to anarchy if it is not carefully managed.

The Tony Uranta group has given the FG 14 days from September 22 to withdraw the Bill. What’s the implication if the FG doesn’t heed the threat? 

Well, concerning the 14 days ultimatum issued by the group, I believe that at the end of the 14 days, the group has the freedom to exercise its right through peaceful protest, through peaceful demand that the bill should be dropped without any violence. Of course, expression of their rights is allowed as long it doesn’t disturb the peace of the society and also the nation.

In addition to their 14 days ultimatum, they also demanded the immediate implementation of the 16-point agenda agreement made by PANDEF with the FG. What’s your view on this?

The government should look inwards and implement the 16-point demands raised and submitted by the good people of the Niger Delta through the national leader, Sir Edwin Clark. It is expected that government should look at those demands and begin to address the fundamental issues, which are more important than the Water Resources Bill. The 16-point agenda will address critical aspects of our economy, critical aspects of our security issues/challenges, critical aspects of human capital development. So, I therefore join my voice with the good people of Nigeria that the Bill should be stepped down and the 16-point agenda should be top of the issues confronting the Niger Delta and Nigeria.

But the FG through Lia Muhammed has said the Bill is not designed to take over land and water from the South for RUGA purpose. Do you think the FG is telling the truth?

Like I said earlier, the position of the federal government is not clear to the people of the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large, particularly the riverine communities. Therefore the government should take time to educate and enlighten the people on the benefit of this Bill and at the end of the enlightenment, form up a memorandum; if the people understand it and key into it then it can go as a Bill, but for now all the voices individually and collectively is against the Bill and that’s why we’re saying that government should step it down and do further consultations and sensitize the people on the Bill because it cannot force the Bill on the people. There are more important issues to be addressed in the society, in this nation Nigeria insecurity has claimed thousands of life, the economy is dwindling so they should focus on addressing all these issues and leave that Bill for now because our current situation as a nation is shaking. We’re about to celebrate 60 years anniversary of an independent nation what do we have to celebrate for 60 years? There is nothing for us to celebrate. In 60 years what I expect our Federal government to do on October 1 is to inaugurate project instead of wasting money to celebrate it. We should be flagging off project that will impact lives, Nigeria should be thinking of celebrating our 60 years anniversary of independence with projects, people-oriented projects not a controversial Bill.

 

Next week Nigeria will be 60. There are still dissenting voices from South West and South East as regards the togetherness question of Nigeria. Would you support a restructured or divided Nigeria? 

As said earlier, on October 1 we are celebrating 60 years anniversary and there is nothing to celebrate about, there is nothing to show that Nigeria at 60 is worth celebrating.

Why do you think so?

The only thing we are celebrating as a nation and I think we’re going to celebrate is still one Nigeria, one united Nigeria inspite of all the challenges and  I expect President Muhammadu Buhari to use October 1 to flag off people-oriented projects. Nigeria is not united as a nation rather disunity has become the order of the day, that’s why every region is raising concern which is not good for a nation like ours. Nigeria is the hope of Africa and if it can’t stand at 60 under President Muhammadu Buhari that we all voted for, then we’re heading for a doom and I believe President Buhari should be able to reposition Nigeria in the fight against corruption. Finally I will call on Nigerians to give the president all the necessary and maximum supports to succeed irrespective of religion and ethnicity.

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