By Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
Youths from Ijaw extraction have appealed to members of the National Assembly from the Niger Delta region to reject the controversial Water Resources Bill.
The youths, under the auspices of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, described the bill as provocative saying the region would be severely affected If the bill sailed through.
The President of IYC, Peter Igbifa, in a statement in Port Harcourt, Rivers said the bill especially in sections 2 and 13 was designed to give the Federal Government enormous and overreaching powers over the entire water resources in the country.
Igbifa lamented some of the sections implied that the people would require permissions from the government before constructing boreholes and fishing ponds.
He said most worrisome were the provisions that allowed the Federal Government to grant permission to strangers to occupy coastal communities and regions without the consent of the local people.
“Without any doubt, the people living within the coastal precincts of the Delta region would be severely affected by the rapacious Bill before the National Assembly.
Amongst the numerous contentious provisions in the proposed Water Resources Bill before the Nigerian Parliament, of paramount Interest to the region is Section 13 and Section 2(1). In the nutshell, what the Bill stands to achieve is to give the Federal Government an enormous and overarching powers over the entire water resources of the country.
“The implication therefore, is that; our people in the coastal areas would need the permission of the Federal Government to drill boreholes; where the government has failed to provide portable water.
“Secondly, our people will require permission of the Federal Government to construct dug out ponds for fish farming and to engage in fishing expeditions in the waters surrounding their ancestral communities.
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“More frightening, is the fact that, the Bill seeks to give, the Federal Government unwholesome powers to grant permission to people from different parts of the country and aliens the latitude to occupy coastal communities and region, without the express approval of locals indigenous to the area; in the guise of looking for areas where there are sufficient water for their inordinate quest. This will certainly spell doom.
“The people of the region are still battling with the Federal Government on the need to amend the Constitution and other legislations governing the Oil and Gas Industry, such as Petroleum Act, Associated Gas Re – injection Regulations, etc that gave the Federal Government the sole right to petroleum resources found in their ancestral lands.
“The Federal Government is unabashedly introducing measures and policies that will further enslave the people and appropriate the water bodies associated with people of the coastal communities.
“This, like many other land-grabbing and undemocratic initiatives by the federal government, such as the RUGA Settlement, Hate Speech Bill, etc will be resisted with every fiber of our being.
“We urge our parliamentarians from the Niger Delta and sister regions to stand in unison to defeat this cancerous and predatory Bill before the National Assembly.
“It is a disaster and time bomb waiting to explode. The people of the region have endured the enslavement and visionlessness of the Nigerian State for too long. Only a Constitutional amendment that will grant the region the right to self determination and to control their God given resources will be accepted.
“We are calling for an urgent all – inclusive National Dialogue to address this menacing Bill, that is threatening to tear the moral fabric of the Nigerian society and other troubling national security challenges”.