Soyinka, Southern/Middle Belt leaders Forum and Ohaneze protest re introduced water bill

Soyinka, Southern/Middle Belt leaders Forum and Ohaneze protest re introduced water bill

Playwright, Prof Wole Soyinka, has faulted attempts by the Federal Government with the connivance of the National Assembly to return the National Wate

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Playwright, Prof Wole Soyinka, has faulted attempts by the Federal Government with the connivance of the National Assembly to return the National Water Resources Bill rejected by the public in 2018.

There were reports that that the House of Representatives on July 23, 2020, referred the National Water Resources Bill 2020 to a “committee of the whole,” for third reading and passage.

Soyinka, in a statement on Thursday titled, ‘MLK’s mighty stream of righteousness,’ kicked against the return of the bill and the killing of some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra by officials of the Department of State Services in Enugu on Sunday.

He said, “A roundly condemned project blasted out of sight by public outrage one or two years ago, is being exhumed and sneaked back into service by none other than a failed government, and with the consent of a body of people, supposedly elected to serve as custodians of the rights, freedoms and existential exigencies of millions.

“This bill – Bill on National Water resources 2020 – is designed to hand Aso Rock absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources, both over and underground. The basic facilitator of human existence, water – forget for now all about streams of righteousness! – is to become exclusive to one centralised authority. It will be doled out, allocated through power directives from a desensitised rockery that cannot even boast of the water divining wand of the prophet Moses.

“If the current presiding genius–and this applies equally to all his predecessors without exception – had a structured vision of Nigerian basic entitlements, Nigerians would by now, be able to boast the means of fulfilling even that minimalist item of COVID-19 protocols that call for washing one’s hands under running water! As for potable water, for drinking and cooking, let us not even begin to address such extra-terrestrial undertaking!

“What next for the exclusive list? The rains? I declare myself in full agreement with virtually every pronouncement of alarm, outrage, opprobrium and repudiation that has been heaped upon this bill and its parentage, both at its first outing and since this recent re-emergence. It is time to move beyond denunciations however and embark on practical responses for its formal deactivation and permanent internment. Let all retain in their minds that, from the same source that preached the “streams of righteousness” is encountered the promise of “no more floods, the fire next time.”

Similarly, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, rejected the water bill and advised communities to demand explanations from their representatives in the National Assembly. It called on all the communities opposed to the bill which it said was  meant to “grab land around waterways for cattle herders to use,” to organise community special sittings for their representatives to explain the meaning of the latest move and their roles in  it.

A co-spokesman of the SMBLF, Yinka Odumakin,said, “Freedom-loving Nigerians should be ready for protracted resistance to this move to grab land around waterways for Miyetti Allah by the executive arm of the government.”

On its part, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation  said the bill would not only be rejected again but would also challenge its legality. The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga said that “It is a tinder box that must certainly explode if they choose to embark on such a precipitous peregrination. When Nigerians fail to resist such ungodly act the next would be an Act to take our compounds from us so that we begin to operate in oblivion.”

Also the Middle Belt Forum warned the National Assembly against conniving with the Federal Government to return the bill, warning that if passed, it “would set Nigeria on fire. National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu, said that the reason which made Nigerians to reject the bill in the first place had not changed as it was “a ploy by the Muhammadu Buhari-led regime to confiscate the ancestral land of Nigerians through the backdoor and transfer their ownership to his Fulani kinsmen.”

Punch