Thursday, September 29, 2022

Nigerian parliament drops controversial water resources bill

Lawmakers challenged both the constitutionality of the bill and the procedure for its passage before throwing it out.

• September 29, 2020
House of Representatives, [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Reps NGR]
House of Representatives, [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Reps NGR]

The National Water Resource Bill on Tuesday created a stir in the House of Representatives after members rejected the procedure adopted in passing the bill at the last sitting before they went on their annual vacation.

The commotion began when Ben Mzondu (PDP, Benue) moved a motion objecting to the procedure.

Mr. Mzondu argued that order 18 of the House Rules stipulates that any bill passing from one parliament to the other must be re-gazetted before being committed to the Committee of the Whole for consideration. He also argued that a bill that is passed without this procedure would have to be taken through the whole process of legislation, starting from the first reading.

Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia) said the issue is constitutional, adding since the issue of water is covered in the Land Use Act, the House lacked the jurisdiction to pass such a bill as it would go against the constitution.

But Speaker Gbajabiamila said the issue at stake is procedural and it is important to go along with it. He said the issue of privilege would not have been debated but for the sensitivity of the bill.

Sada Soli (APC, Katsina), who is Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, said members complaining about the bill were in the chambers when it was passed by the Committee of the Whole.

Speaker Gbajabiamila asked the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, to withdraw the bill and re-gazette it before presenting to the House for consideration.

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