Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Saturday described the report of the federal government in conjunction with the National Assembly plans to bring back National Water Resources Bill as a guise to grab land for Fulani herdsmen.
The governor who said that the bill was rejected in 2018 by the 8th national assembly called on the present lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives to reject the bill in the interest of the country.
In a statement issued and signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, 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 anti-federalism and negates the right of Nigerians to their God-given resources
Ortom said 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 groundwater resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.”
He described as curious, the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill, which was rejected in 2018 by the 8th Assembly, stating that those pushing for the passage of the bill at all costs have a surreptitious motive which is not yet clear to other Nigerians.
“He (Ortom) says 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 Governor maintains that 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 commends socio-cultural organizations such as Afenifere, Ohaneze and Middle Belt Forum for speaking against the reintroduction of the bill at the National Assembly.
“Governor Ortom urges the federal lawmakers to act as true representatives of the people for the sake of posterity and to remember that the destiny of the country lies in their hands.
“He advises Senators and Members of the House of Representatives to toe the path of honour by rejecting the National Water Resources Bill like the 8th Assembly did,” the statement read in parts.