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Attorneys-General of 36 States to vet controversial Water Resources Bill

Governors of the 36 States of the Nigerian federation have resolved to ask their Attorneys-General to vet the controversial Water Resources Bill to enable state governments present a common position on it.

The decision was reached at the 17th Teleconference Meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Thursday and the resolution was contained in a communiqué released by the Forum after the meeting.

NGF Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State signed the communiqué which read in part: “Forum members while commending the Minister of Water Resources for taking an integrated approach on water resource management as a national good, Resolved that the proposed Bill and other relevant laws including the River Basins Development Authorities Act 2004; the Natural Water Resources Act 2004; and the Nigeria Hydrological Resources Act 2004 will be reviewed by their Attorneys General and Executive Councils of States after which a common position of States will be presented to Water Resources.”

Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Hussein Adamu, had briefed the Forum on the National Water Resources Bill 2020 before the decision was reached during which he stressed that the basic philosophy behind the Bill is to integrate water resources management in the country by bringing all laws related to water resources management into one consolidated code.

According to him, the new Bill, which is consistent with the Land Use Act will promote equitable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface and groundwater resources.

NGF members resolved to hail the World Bank for facilitating ongoing activities geared towards accelerating the uptake of the Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) during the COVID-19 period and meet with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the terms of the program.

World Bank Country Director, Mr. Shubham Chaudhuri accompanied by the Bank’s Lead Specialist on the Nigeria CARES Program, Prof. Foluso Okunmadewa provided an update on Nigeria’s COVID-19 recovery programme at the meeting.

The program aims to fund investments at the State level aimed at protecting livelihoods and food security for vulnerable families and facilitating economic recovery for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

NGF members were also requested to establish a State CARES Coordination Unit in their Ministries of Budget and Planning to ensure proper coordination with other ministries, departments and agencies.

Forum members also agreed to schedule a more intensive session on economic management with their Commissioners of Finance and Budget and Planning, following the presentation of Bismarck Rewane, member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) on managing state economies: challenges, opportunities and policy solutions for State governments.

His presentation highlighted the deteriorating economic condition in the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and called for an informed response from governments to steer the country to a v-shaped economic recovery in 2021.

Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, provided updates on behalf of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, highlighting the role of government in monitoring controls as the country welcomes international travellers.

According to him, this includes the requirement for travellers to present credible COVID-19 PCR test results in order to safeguard the health of the populace.

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