The controversial National Water Resources Bill, 2023 has been rejected by the Senate.
The bill was lined up for concurrence in the order paper but was rejected by the majority of the senators.
This brings an end to the controversy by governors and the federal lawmakers particularly those from the Southern part of the country.
When the bill was read for concurrence on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, Senator Gabriel Suswan from Benue North West, raised Order 85 of the Senate Rules which provides that Senators must have full details of the provisions of any bill coming for concurrence.
Senator James Manager from Delta South, who seconded Senator Suswan’s point of order, also stressed the need to have details of the bill since provision was made for only the title of bill.
The Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who later ruled in favour of the rule cited, adjourned the plenary for the day.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives had passed the bill in 2020 amidst suspicion by members and the general public that the proposal had sinister motives.
Before the passage, the chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli, said the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as commissioners for justice and attorneys-general of the 36 states of the federation had been consulted and the opinions received would be attached to the bill and distributed to all members.
To buttress the suspicion of some members of the public, a member of the House from Benue State, Mark Gbillah, raised the alarm when the bill was to be taken for the first reading.
Only the short title of a bill is written on the Order Paper for first reading, while a long title, which has more details, is written when listed for second reading.
Gbillah said, “I am aware that the matter listed for first reading, the National Water Resources Bill, generated a lot of controversy within this honourable House and even across the country, and some of us wonder why this issue is still being represented on the floor of the House, because some of us are not comfortably in support of this bill in the first instance Mr Speaker. I thought I should bring that to the notice of the Right Honourable Speaker.”
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who admitted that Gbillah “raised a very cogent point,” noted that Nigeria is a very diverse country and everybody’s sensitivity must be taken into consideration.
Gbillah, however, disagreed with the Speaker, stating that the lawmakers were duly elected and given the mandate to represent the interests of their constituents.
He said, “Whatever the governors might have agreed upon may not be acceptable to us. It is we that have those powers as enshrined in the Constitution to enact legislation that will be binding on this country.”
There were fireworks in the House on September 29, 2020, with some members, mostly from the southern part of the country, raising various legal and procedural issues against the bill.”
The then President, Muhammadu Buhari, had in 2017 presented the controversial bill to both chambers of the National Assembly, which seeks to transfer the control of water resources from the states to the federal government.
The legislation was titled, “A Bill for An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, Provide for the Equitable and Sustainable Redevelopment, Management, Use and Conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Groundwater Resources and for Related Matters.”
The summary of the bill reads, “This Act repeals the Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004; River Basin Development Act Cap R9 LFN 2004; Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N110A, LFN,2004; National Water Resources Institute Act Cap N83 LFN 2004; and establishes the National Council on Water Resources, Nigeria Water Resources Regulatory Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, and the National Water Resources Institute.”
The proposed bodies, if established, will “provide for the regulation, equitable and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface water and groundwater resources.”
Though the 8th House managed to pass the bill, the controversy had frustrated passage of the bill by the Senate, as the Red Chamber on May 24, 2018, considered the executive bill for second reading, during which senators were divided across regional lines.
While Northern Senators had supported the proposal and its objectives, their Southern counterparts had opposed it.
Those opposed to the bill had pointed out that the bill, if passed into law, would further centralise power and resources of the country. This, they pointed out, would counter the move towards devolution of power domiciled with the federal government.
Abiodun Pays Tribute To Alaperu’s Late Wife, Harps On Enduring Legacies
Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun has extolled the exemplary virtues of the late wife of the Alaperu of Iperu, Olori Kehinde Idowu Basibo-Odoru, describing her as a strong pillar for her husband and a unifying factor for the entire royal family while alive.
The late queen was born on April 23, 1962, and passed on at the age of 61 on 27th July 2023. Her funeral and thanksgiving service was held on Friday at the St. James Anglican Church, Iperu.
The governor, in his remarks, expressed his heartfelt condolences to the royal father, Alaiyeluwa, Oba Adeleke Idowu-Basibo, and the people of the town over the loss, as he prayed for necessary fortitude to carry on in her absence.
He recounted the enviable attributes of the late Olori while alive as bold, lovely and supportive; with passion to help those around her, adding that she would be sorely missed by her immediate family, the entire town of Iperu and Ogun State in general.
“On behalf of the government and the good people of Ogun State, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to my brother, the Alaperu of Iperu, Oba Adeleke Idowu-Basibo, on the passing of his adorable wife.
“The late Olori was a friend and reliable companion to her husband till death. She was also a doting mother to her children. We are going to sorely miss her; may the good Lord repose her soul,” Abiodun said.
The governor counselled the congregation on the need to be fair to all in all ways while alive, to leave worthy legacies after death as exemplified by the late Queen.
He continued: “Life is a journey; we all have our exit points. We have no power over that, it is inevitable. What is important is what we do while we are here, what type of tribute would be written about you when you are no more.”
BREAKING: Govt Increases Salaries Of University Lecturers, Others
In a bid to improve the lot of tertiary education, the Federal Government has increased the salaries of the lecturers and non-academic staff in the nation’s public universities.
The increase was approved by the National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission.
This includes payment of a newly approved percentage increment in salaries for academic and non-academic staff of all Federal Government’s tertiary institutions in the country.
This is as the percentage increment for junior staff of tertiary institutions was raised from 23.5% which was reviewed last year to 25%. Our correspondent gathered that the arrears of the increment from January 2023 will also be paid.
Though nothing was said about the withheld salaries of the academics and non-academics who embarked on strike in 2022, it was learnt that the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, earlier wrote the Chairman of the NSIWC, Ekpo Nta, to demand the status of the collective.
According to sources within the Ministry of Education, the decision of the minister to write the NSIWC might not be unconnected from visitations by some of the academic unions and intervention by some pressure groups.
When asked if polytechnic lecturers were aware of the new development, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, said that the union heard of the news and were looking forward to the implementation.
“Definitely, we heard of it and we are looking forward to it. There will be 25% increment for junior lecturers while chief lecturers and professors will benefit from 35% increment,” he said.
The National Vice-President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Chris Piwuna, disclosed that such a letter would be addressed to the management of universities and not ASUU.
A letter by the Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of the NSIWC, Eyo Nta, which was addressed to the Minister of Education on September 14,2023 shortly before his departure to the United Nations General Assembly in New York
tagged ‘RE: Implementation of the 35% and 23.5% salary increment for staff of tertiary institutions,’ reads: “I refer to your letter No. FME/IS/UNI/ASUU/C.I/IT?/90 dated 8th September 2023 in respect of the above-subject. Find attached the circulars pertaining to the four salary structures in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education for your information (attached).
“The 23.5% earlier reflected in our letter SWC/S/04/S.149/I/59 of 28 July 2022 and stated in paragraph 2 of your letter, has been increased to 25% which accounted for the increased cost implications. This Commission is really pleased with the success your informal discussions have achieved. We shall endeavour to support all your efforts aimed at repositioning the Education Sector. Please accept the assurances of my warm regards.”
Consequently, the commission proceeded to issue a circular also dated September 14, 2023 and addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation among others informing them of the implementation of the newly reviewed salaries.
The circular reads: “ The Presidential Committee on Salaries at its 13th meeting having taken into consideration the various stages of collective bargaining in various sectors, and specifically engagements between the Federal Ministry of Education and Tertiary Institutions-based Unions, and consequent upon the Federal Government’s approval, as well as 2023 budgetary provisions, approval is hereby conveyed for the revision of the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Salary Structure for academic staff of Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, with effect from 1st January 2023.”
Also, a letter from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation dated September 21, 2023 which was made available to our correspondent on Friday in Abuja confirmed the increment.
The letter which was signed on behalf of the Director, Human Resource of the office, Ajanaku F.O reads, “I am directed to inform you that the Presidential Committee on Salaries at it’s 13th meeting having taken into consideration the different stages of collective bargaining in various sectors and specifically engagements between the Federal Ministry of Education and Tertiary Institutions-based Unions and consequently the Federal Government’s approval, is hereby conveyed as revised for the following:-
“Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Salary Structure for Academic Staff of Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education with effect from 1st January, 2023.
“Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure II for non-Academic Staff of Federal Universities, with effect from 1st January, 2023.
“Consolidated Tertiary Education Institutions Salary Structure for non – Academic Staff of Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, with effect from 1st January, 2023.
“Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure II (CONUASS II) for Academic Staff of Federal University with effect from 1st January, 2023.”
Canada’s Dallaire Institute Invites Nigerian Security Personnel For Elite Child Protection Training
The Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security, a global leader in preventing the recruitment and use of children in armed violence, has invited two members of Nigeria’s security forces to participate in its first regional lead trainers course on child protection. The course will run from September 25 to 29, 2023.
Maj. Edwin Okpala (rtd), a chartered mediator, and a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration expert at the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre, and Capt. Grace Watirahyel Samuel, will join other members of the armed forces, police, and civil society groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Sudan, and Uganda for five days of theoretical training and scenario – based simulation in Rwanda.
Organized through the Dallaire Institute’s Africa Centre of Excellence, the course, which is specifically for previously trained facilitators, will be delivered by lead facilitator Maj. Musa Donald Gbow, the first-ever child protection advisor in an African Union peacekeeping mission and a master trainer for the Dallaire Institute.
In a statement, the Executive Director of the Dallaire Institute, Dr Shelly Whitman disclosed that the course will bring participants up to speed on best practices in preventing the recruitment and use of children, while enhancing their ability to independently lead Dallaire Institute courses across the continent.
“The Dallaire Institute believes in the importance of collaboration that leads to long-term systemic change to place children at the heart of peace and security. The lead trainers’ course will bring together our champions for change from military and police institutions across the African continent, so they can support and learn from each other on how to prevent the recruitment and use of children and we as the Dallaire Institute can continue to learn from their lived experiences to ensure our approaches are effective”, Whitman noted.
The Dallaire Institute has worked with the Nigerian military, police, and civil society groups since 2017. In 2021, as part of collaborative efforts, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Martin Luther Agwai Leadership and International Peacekeeping Centre (MLALIPKC) and the African Peace Support Training Association (APSTA) to support capacity building activities.
Founded by renowned humanitarian and former Canadian Forces Lieutenant General, Roméo Dallaire, the Dallaire Institute was created with the unique premise that preventing violence against children requires a dual lens that is focused on prioritizing the protection of children, as well as understanding the significant operational impacts upon security sector actors.
As co-developers and custodians of The Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, the institute’s stakeholders advise governments and multilateral partners on integrating the principles into security sector governance.
The Institute also hosts a prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chair on International Peace, Security and Children and offers undergraduate and graduate courses that will lead to the creation of a certificate program on children, peace and security. Through academic and practitioner training, and community engagement, the Dallaire Institute’s interdisciplinary and applied research advances innovative strategies for preventing the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts and violence. The Dallaire Institute is supported through private, public, and international contributions.