Senate Reject BUHARI water Resources Bill

On Tuesday, the Senate rejected the highly controversial National Water Resources Bill of 2023, which had been listed for concurrence on the order paper for consideration and approval.Former President Muhammadu Buhari had initially presented the contentious bill to both chambers of the National Assembly back in 2017. The bill aimed to transfer control over water resources from the states to the Federal Government.The proposed legislation aimed to establish various bodies, including the National Council on Water Resources, Nigeria Water Resources Regulatory Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, and the National Water Resources Institute. These bodies were intended to regulate, promote equitable and sustainable development, manage, utilize, and conserve Nigeria’s surface water and groundwater resources.The Senate’s rejection of the bill effectively put an end to the heated controversy it had sparked among governors and federal lawmakers, primarily from the southern part of the country.During the Senate session, when the bill was presented for concurrence, Senator Gabriel Suswan from Benue North-West invoked Order 85 of the Senate Rules, which stipulates that senators must have complete details of the provisions of any bill under consideration for concurrence. Senate President Ahmad Lawan subsequently ruled in favor of the cited rule.Consequently, the Senate withheld concurrence for the bill, aligning with those who opposed it.It is worth noting that the House of Representatives had passed the bill in 2020 amid suspicions raised by members of the House and the general public.Before its passage, Sada Soli, the Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, had stated that consultations had taken place with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation at the time, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as the commissioners for justice and attorneys-general of the 36 states of the federation. The opinions received during these consultations were intended to be attached to the bill and distributed to all members.

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