Bayelsa State Government has not hidden its odium for the proposed National Water Resources Bill 2020, pledging to join other progressive forces to resist it at all cost.
Arriving at this decision at the weekly meeting of the State Executive Council Wednedsay in Yenagoa, the council presided over by Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the state deputy vowed to resist the law seen as another draconian Land Use Decree in disguise.
The National Water Resources Bill 2020 that has passed its second reading on the floor of the Senate was returned by House of Representatives for re-gazetting.
It has attracted a wide-ranging condemnations across Nigeria due to its controversial provisions aimed at empowering the Federal Government to control waterways in the country.
At a joint press briefing by Hon. Ayibaina Duba, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, and Mr Biriyai Dambo (SAN), the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the State, Council decided to oppose the bill because it negates the rights of Bayelsans, Niger Deltans and several other people in the country to enjoy their God-given resources.
To this end, Dambo expressed the state government’s readiness to apply all necessary legal frameworks to reject any legislation by the National Assembly that would emanate from the bill.
While pointing out some relevant sections of the bill, Dambo noted that Section 62 seeks to deny indigenes especially the Niger Delta people of their ancestral lands and the freedom of fishing for business.
“Section 62 of the bill which states that any person who choose to undertake any of the activities in relation to water resources of this bill, shall be licensed by the Commission.
“The essence of this is that, this bill seeks to take away the freedom of not just the Niger Delta people but Nigerians at large, so if they start licensing the waterways activities, then you are encroaching on the freedom of the people and that is unacceptable.
“That is why Exco came to the conclusion that we reject this bill and secondly, we shall also impress on members of the National Assembly from and outside this region to oppose this Bill with everything they have,” the state chief law officer stated.
On his part, Mr. Akpoebide Alamieyeseigha, the State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, said the recent citizens budget participatory session organised by the state government enabled Council to approve the Medium Term Expenditure Framework covering 2020 to 2023.