By Arnold Neliba
ABUJA, OCTOBER 18, 2022 (CISA)-The Catholic Church in Nigeria has called for the withdrawal of a draft bill on water management accusing it of contravening the principles of federalism.
Through Fr Uchechukwu Obodoechina, Director of Caritas Nigeria in the Nigeria Catholic Bishops Conference (NCBC), the bishops called on the federal government to respect the principle of federalism and the rights of local governments concerning the use of domestic water.
“We call on the federal government to withdraw the draft law and to prioritize public health, using all possible means to obtain quality water and sanitation services,” said Fr Obodoechina, also NCBC’s Director of Justice and Peace Commission.
“Caritas Nigeria is shocked at the potential impact of this legislation, which has far-reaching consequences for citizens and violates the principle of the common good as advocated by the Catholic Church. Although the proposed National Water Resources Act guarantees citizens the right to use water, it would if passed, lead to a further centralization of the country’s power and resources, thereby counteracting ongoing efforts to decentralize power,” he added.
According to Caritas Nigeria, the bill, which was first introduced in 2020, grants the Federal Government direct control over surface and ground waters, and further mandates individuals to obtain a license before they can access water – a natural resource received freely from God to meet man’s needs.
“Caritas Nigeria, therefore, is rattled by the implications of this legislation, which has far-reaching effects on the citizenry and violates the Catholic Church’s principle of the Common Good,” the statement reads noting that although it guarantees citizens the right to use water, “it guards against private ownership of water and if signed into law, would lead to further centralization of power and the nation’s resources, thereby countering ongoing efforts towards devolution of powers.”
The statement quoted sections of the bill that contravene basic human principles calling for an urgent comprehensive and holistic consultation with citizen groups across the board and states to ensure that every concerned section of the populace is offered the opportunity to express their concerns about the bill.