Nigerian women have called for the immediate withdrawal of the National Water Resources Bill which has passed its third reading at the National Assembly.
The women made the call during a roundtable on National Water Bill and other Urgent National Matters organized by African Women water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network, AWASHNET.
They also demanded that, “government should integrate water as human rights in all its policies and laws and welfare of the citizens should be prioritized in all government’s agenda.”
While making the demands, Aderonke Ige, co-convener, AWASHNET and Associate Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA disclosed that the bill is not the interest of women and all Nigerians at large and as such, should be withdrawn.
Ige explained that the reasons for the demand is because the issues of water affect women and children more and the National Water Resources bill is draconian and prove that the Nigerian government is not acting in the interest of the citizens.
She buttressed that, “UN has declared water as human rights and most countries of the world are making efforts to make water available to their citizens but the Nigerian government is making all efforts to make life miserable for its citizens.
“It only shows that our elected officials are no longer interested in people’s interest because even when there are public outcry it falls into deaf hears.
“The bill is nothing but a draconian piece of document and insensitive for citizens who have been grappling with water and sanitation access,
The AWASHNET co-convener noted that “the provision of the bill is a direct contravention of people’s privacy and the fundamental human rights as provided by the Nigerian constitution.”
Ige added that the danger of water privatization is that it would be difficult for members of the public to have access to it, despite being a natural resource.
She highlighted that “if this bill should scale true, everyone would be affected and worst bills might be passed in this country.” She also warned that “no state should toil with the issues of water privatization.”
On her part, Veronica Nwanya, coordinator, AWASHNET explained that the National Water Resources Bill is an indication of women’s exclusion in decision making process in Nigeria.
She added that, “it’s high time women were involved in the decision making processes in governance because such would address the issues of insensitivity to the needs of women in all policies and programmes of government.”
She urged the women to follow through with their demands for the dismissal of the National Water Resources Bill.
Betty Abah, Executive Director, CEE-HOPE Nigeria asked that “why will the government at a time of a global pandemic pass such a bill?”
She noted that “the fundamental way of beating COVID-19 is by regular hand washing and the water bill would make it difficult for ordinary Nigerians to access water.
She said, “the bill is ill-timed and insensitive, the government is just dragging us into greater suffering and it almost seems as if the major aim of being in power is that citizens suffer.
“We’ve seen what government is doing to their citizens all over the world to ensure safety and access to all forms of interventions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but in Nigeria, reverse is the case,” Abah added.