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Bayelsa Governor, Diri Slams Buhari Government’s Water Resources Bill, Says It’s Draconian

August 5, 2022

"This bill is tantamount to stifling us. The federal government is on our neck and we cannot breathe anymore."

Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has described as draconian the National Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly, saying it would hurt the predominantly maritime state if it is passed into law. 

Diri condemned the bill on Friday when the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dame Didi Walson-Jack, and her team paid him a courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa. 

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying that it would be unfair and unjust to introduce the water resources bill when oil-rich states were still agitating for a fair deal from their oil and gas resources. 

He said: “The Water Resources Bill is not acceptable. The provisions of the bill, if it becomes law, would have a more negative impact on us as we are a mainly maritime environment. Having taken away our oil and gas resources, the federal government is trying to introduce a water resources law at a time when we are still fighting for a fair deal. This bill is tantamount to stifling us. The federal government is on our neck and we cannot breathe anymore." 

Governor Diri called on sponsors of the bill to withdraw it, saying the country operates a federal system of government rather than a unitary government. 

"We are running a federal government where you do not centralise resources or political power. It is where you run a unitary system of government that that kind of draconian bill can come. But in an ideal federal system, you allow the states to expropriate their resources and pay taxes to the federal government. 

"They emasculate the states’ resources and then give peanuts to them. They still turn around to say the states are not performing. How can they perform when you take away all their resources?" 

A group, the Coalition of Southern and Middle Belt Youth Leaders Assembly, COSMBYLA, in July slammed the Nigerian Government for the reintroduction of the rejected Water Resources Bill in the National Assembly, describing it as wicked, vexatious and obnoxious. 

It said the bill has an intended agenda to annex land for Fulani Jihadists in southern Nigeria, calling on the Southern and Christian legislatures in the National Assembly to reject the bill as many times as the sponsors smuggled it into the House. 

The group’s statement was signed by its President General, Goodluck Ibem; Coordinator, Forum of Middle Belt Youth Presidents, Terrence Kuanum; Coordinator, South West Youth Leaders Forum (SWYLF), Shittu Waheed; and President, South-South Youth Forum (SSYF), Tito Zokumor. 

The group in the statement titled: "Reintroduced Water Resources Bill Obnoxious, Wicked, Repugnant And Vexatious," alleged that the bill is part of President Muhammadu Buhari's agenda to advance the ‘Fulanisation’ and ‘Islamisation’ in the country. 

It also alleged that bill is a well-calculated plot to acquire land for Fulani Jihadists to inhabit which will serve as a base to launch attacks against the Southern part of the country.  

The statement partly read, "The reintroduction of the obnoxious Water Resources Bill is a confirmation that President Muhammadu Buhari sees Nigerians as fools and people without brains who he can manipulate, kill and impose his will whenever or anyhow he wants.  

"The continuous reintroduction of the obnoxious and vexatious bill confirms to Nigerians that it is a wicked bomb packaged by Buhari's regime to kill the remaining Nigerians that escaped the sword of the rampaging Fulani terrorists parading as herdsmen in the country.”