Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has urged the public and the National Assembly of the dangers inherent in the National Water Resources Bill before the Assembly, describing it as another version of Ruga Policy aimed at appropriating land for Fulani herdsmen and called on them to reject it in its entirety.
The Governor said the Bill, 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 is alien to the tenets of federalism and a negation of the right of Nigerians to their God-given resources.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase in a statement on Saturday, he drew the attention of the public to Section 13 of the Bill, which 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 groundwater resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.”
He wondered why the bill was reintroduced again after its rejection in 2018 by the 8th Assembly adding “those pushing for the passage of the bill at all cost have a surreptitious motive which is not yet clear to other Nigerians.”
He stated that “the bill, in addition to its provisions which are at variance with the Land Use Act, is 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 lied in their hands.
Governor Ortom also advised legislators in the two chambers of the National Assembly to toe the path of honour by rejecting the bill as the 8th Assembly did.