The controversial National Water Resources Bill, 2023 was rejected by the Senate on Tuesday when it was scheduled for consideration and passage. Former President Muhammadu Buhari had introduced the bill to the National Assembly in 2017, aiming to transfer control of water resources from the states to the Federal Government. The bill aimed to establish various bodies responsible for regulating and managing Nigeria’s water resources. The rejection of the bill by the Senate resolved the controversy it had sparked among governors and federal lawmakers, particularly those from the southern part of the country.
During the Senate session, Senator Gabriel Suswan raised a Senate Rule requiring senators to have full details of any bill for concurrence. Senator James Manager seconded the request, emphasizing the need for comprehensive information on the bill beyond its title. Senate President Ahmad Lawan ruled in favor of the cited rule. Consequently, the Senate decided to withhold concurrence to the bill, aligning with those who opposed it.
It is worth noting that the House of Representatives had passed the bill in 2020, although there were suspicions among members and the general public. Before its passage, consultations were made with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as commissioners for justice and attorneys-general of all 36 states. The opinions received were intended to be attached to the bill and distributed to all members.