By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has called on members of the National Assembly to reject the National Water Resources Bill before the lawmakers in the interest of the country, describing it as another version of the rejected Ruga policy to grab land for pastoralists.
The governor insisted that the bills which seeks to bring all water sources (surface and underground) as well as river banks under the control of the Federal Government through its agencies, was anti-federalism and also negated the right of Nigerians to their God-given resources.
Orton in a statement, yesterday, by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, observed that Section 13 of the Bill, states thus: ‘In implementing the principles under subsection (2) of this section, the institutions established under this Act shall promote integrated water resources management and the coordinated management of land and water resources, surface water and ground water resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.”
He described as curious the reintroduction of the bill, which was rejected in 2018 by the 8th Assembly, adding: “those pushing for the passage of the Bill at all costs have a surreptitious motive which is not yet clear to other Nigerians.”
“The Bill, in addition to its provisions which are at variance with the Land Use Act, is a disguised land-grabbing legislation designed to grant pastoralists unhindered access to river basins, adjacent marine and coastal environments across the country.”
“The Bill is another version of Ruga which objective is to create grazing areas in the 36 states of the federation for herders and their livestock.”
He commended socio-cultural organizations such as Afenifere, Ohaneze and Middle Belt Forum for speaking against the reintroduction of the Bill at the National Assembly and urged federal lawmakers to act as true representatives of the people for the sake of posterity, and to remember that the destiny of the country lay in their hands.
Ortom also advised legislators in the two chambers of the National Assembly to toe the path of honour by rejecting the Bill like the 8th Assembly did.