IYC Warn Buhari Government Over Controversial National Water Resources Bill

The Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Worldwide has vowed that the people of Niger Delta will fight any plan to take over their land and waters through the controversial National Water Resources Bill 2020, after appropriating their crude and gas resources.

The group described the controversial bill 2020 as a move by Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to take indigenous land for nomadic Fulani.

This was disclosed by the Secretary-General of IYC, Frank Pukon, in a notice sent to the Presidency in which the group kicked against the controversial bill.

Pukon said the Land Use Act already gave power over land in each state to respective governors and consequently, saying the content of the bill contradicts the characteristics of a federal system of government, which Nigeria claims to practise.

The statement partly read, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Land Use Act clearly stipulates that ‘All land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation is hereby vested in the Governor of that State, and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act’.

“Therefore, all well-meaning Niger Deltans and indeed even those in Buhari presidency that are against the bill, assert that Federal Government would not take our crude oil and gas resources, while also plotting to take over our land and waters. We will resist it.

“As Ijaw people, we would not be advocating for true federalism or a restructured Nigeria under the pillars of devolution of power that will underscore fairness, justice and equity, yet the President will precipitate setbacks to our agitations through a bill that gives constitutional power to the federal government to have absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources, both over and underground.

“What is more, the reintroduction of this obnoxious Water Resources Bill is indeed a confirmation that President Muhammadu Buhari is not committed to national unity and cohesion. 

“What should have been more important to the government now is to contextualize frameworks on the passed Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2022. Such landmark legislation that will enhance the oil and gas sector in our country and improve the electoral system of our dear nation, the government is rather doing hide and seek.

“I want to take this opportunity to once again urge the implementation Committee to expedite action so that our country will start to reap the benefits of these laws. I have been following recent developments to the controversial National Water Resources Bill, 2020 that has re-emerged on the floor of the House of Representatives. Indeed, as many public commentators posit, the bill is not in the interest of our nation.”

According to the group, the bill “contravenes our (Ijaw people’s) struggle for resource control and revenue derivation”.

“From Lagos to Maiduguri, Sokoto to Calabar, the story has been the same; Nigerians are living in despair, fear of insecurity and a protracted ailment of disunity. Hence, the government of the day must focus on how hope and confidence can be inspired.

“It should be a concern Nigerian kids are home due to the negligence of the government to strike a deal with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“Instead of the government to take proactive measures such as declaring a state of emergency on security in the country due to the worsening security situation in the country, it is even abating the situation that has continued to grow worse. The government is susceptible to the promotion of disunity, separatist agitations,” the group added.

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