249 views | Akanimo Sampson | October 12, 2020
The Buhari administration appears to be courting another avoidable cat and dog fight in Nigeria with the controversial Water Resources Bill even when protesters are still pressing with their EndSARS campaign.
Water Resources Minister, Suleiman Adamu, brashly said on Sunday that opposition to the bill by people from the honeycomb part of the country in the South, and the Middle Belt, Nigeria’s food basket, will not stop the Buhari administration from going ahead with the proposed new law.
This is even when EndSARS campaigners are saying they will not back down, insisting that the street rallies will continue until President Muhammadu Buhari issued an Executive Order scrapping the police tactical unit.
Co-convener of the Centre for Liberty, Abuja, Raphael Adebayo, is advocating for a total overhaul and reform of the Nigeria Police, claiming that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, was being “clever by half” with his announcement that SARS has been dissolved, noting that the EndSARS campaigners are not convinced by the police chief’s statement.
According to Adebayo, ‘’we are not going to be fooled by the IG’s announcement. The President should either address Nigerians by announcing through an executive order, that he is disbanding the terrorist unit in the Nigeria Police or more protest would happen and it would continue to grow until the President takes responsibility.
“At the end of the day, this is deeper than ending SARS; this is about getting justice for all the people killed by SARS and the IG’s statement did not address that.”
For the Convener of RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyele Sowore, the protesters did not believe that the scrapping of SARS was real, noting that some policemen still harassed protesters in Abuja on Sunday, shortly after the IG’s statement.
“As I’m speaking with you, there is an ongoing protest in Abuja and it is massive. They are heading to the Force headquarters because they are not convinced that the dissolution of SARS is real. People are very sceptical, cynical about the announcement,” the former presidential candidate said.
Sowore, a 2019 presidential candidate is stressing that the EndSARS campaign is also a demand for compensation for victims of police brutality and rights violations, adding that they also wanted the errant operatives to be publicly prosecuted.
There is also the unsettled labour dispute with Abuja on the increase in electricity tariff and petrol price hikes.
The Buhari administration and organised labour met on Sunday to resume talks on these disturbing issues. Parties met on September 28 where the price hikes were discussed and consensus reached, leading to the inauguration of a seven-man Technical Sub-committee to review the increase in electricity tariff.
The committee which was given two weeks was expected to present its report at the Sunday meeting. Nothing was made public about the outcome of the meeting.
However, the minister says opposition to the new water bill is unwarranted, explaining that those from the two zones will be the greatest beneficiaries if passed by the National Assembly.
Adamu who was speaking in Abuja, brushed aside insinuations that the bill was being championed by President Buhari to enable him snatch people’s lands, institutionalise RUGA and northernise the country.
He argued that over 95 per cent content of the bill was already in existence before the advent of the Buhari’s administration as it was first drafted in 2006 and completed in 2008, pointing out that before it was sent to the National Assembly, copies were distributed to the 36 governors for inputs and some gave recommendations while the rest were satisfied with it.
On the revenue that will be generated, he said the funds will be shared between the federal and state governments, adding, ‘’being a constitutional ministry, the bill is something that has been in the works for several years especially eight years. We thought it was a routine matter to adjust it.
“This bill passed through the House of Representatives without any issue. So, when it came out with all the cacophony, it really took us by surprise. People have forgotten that in 2018 when this controversy started, I went to the TV and stations, I put out statements on this matter. And in 2020 this same issue came up again.
“The process of drafting this Bill started in 2006. And it was completed in 2008. And because Nigeria has subscribed to the Integrated Water Resources Management Commission Act which was created in 2017, it delegated the power of the minister drawn from the Water Resources Act of 2004 otherwise known as Decreed 101 of 1990.
“There is nothing new in the Bill. It is just an agglomeration of the 4 existing laws. Nothing more. The bill is to assist us move the water sector forward.
“If people are saying that we should throw out the bill, there is nothing to throw away because the bill is existing whether you pass it now or you don’t pass it, the rules are there. We will continue to implement them. But we are losing two important things. We will not have the opportunity to improve food security”, the minister said.
He claimed that those thwarting the passage of the bill “have not read it. They are politicising it based on what they have heard.”
Meanwhile, All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday said it welcomes government’s decision to disband the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) and the reform of the Nigeria Police.
APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a statement says the party views the responsive decision as a major and concrete step toward President Muhammadu Buhari’s affirmed resolve to achieve better policing and necessary reforms.
“From the recent BlackLivesMatter social movement to other global clamours for review of police operations, particularly in regard to citizens they are empowered to protect the need for police reforms in Nigeria is urgent and continuous.
“With benefit of experience and public outcry over the operations of the disbanded SARS, the APC is confident that the new policing arrangement promised by the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed will balance the need to effectively combat armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country”, he said.
While Nabena expressed optimism that the police reform would also ensure humane, professional and accountable police operations in the country, he called on Nigerians to take advantage of the Citizens’ and Strategic Stakeholders’ Forum formed to regularly interface with police leadership at all levels and advise on its activities as they affected the general public.
Adamu, the police big boss while announcing the disbandment of SARS across the 36 states of the federation, on Sunday said its operatives will be redeployed to other police formations and commands.
The announcement came after days of online and offline protests against the brutality and extra-judicial killings by SARS operatives nationwide. “The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force otherwise known as SARS is hereby dissolved in all the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory”, Adamu said.