Dortimi Tawari, a Bayelsa-born lawyer, has backed governors and the escalating opposition to the disputed National Water Resources bill, calling the proposal as a threat to state authority and the nation’s precarious unity.
Tawari, a lawyer with more than 35 years of experience, an environmentalist, and a member of the Ijaw Community Law Review Group, noted that the National Water Resources Bill contains a lot of ambiguity, confusion, and treasonous acts despite the growing desperation of the federal government for the passage of the Bill and the series of misinformation given to members of the National Assembly.
The National Water Resources Bill was altered in 1993 by a military decree issued by the military regime led by former head of state Ibrahim Babangida. Tawari revealed this information to reporters during a Q&A session at the Bayelsa State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists’ secretariat.
He pointed out that the decree under the Military junta handed access to water “but the present administration introduced politics and the proposed Bill will usurp the powers of the governors under the Land Use Act.”
“It now proposes that the Land Use power will now be under the control of the federal government. If they have amended it, they should bring it to the people.
“The water Resources Bill has lots of ambiguity, confusion and treasonable. The Bill will tear our fragile unity. They have taken the crude oil, water and the lives of the people. It is obnoxious and wicked to the Niger Delta and the ijaw nation. The Bill raised lots of suspicion.”
He also aligned with the various positions of the opposition to the Bill, saying, “Why is it that the Bill is introduced at the time of our political life? We should look where the Bill is coming from. How can a non-elected person come up and said because it is an executive Bill, it must be passed.
“And to tell you how far the sponsor of the Bill will go for the bill to be passed. We have seen the threats even against the federal House of Representatives Speaker, that if the Bill is not passed, they will impeach him. That is the most mundane act from those involved.
“Secondly, the proposed Bill calls for attention and curiosity. Why is it that the Bill of such magnitude is introduced at this time of our political career? Having had the experience in the past where the Bill has bill rejected twice. Why is it coming now? Considering the pressure and the speed, why the haste? What is happening? Why so much venom?
“We should be circumspect about the Bill. From characters, what we have heard and read, it shows there is something underneath. They have consulted widely and listen to opinions of stakeholders on the Bill on an item like water.
“Water is not oil. Water is not gold. Water is different. Water is life. Water is livelihood. It depends on where you are in the geography. For us, in the Niger Delta, water is life. We drink water and live by water. And everything about us is water.
“Therefore any legislation bordering on water is a legislation that will touch on our life. And if you want to control water, the people affected must be listened to. Not just listening to them but take their passion into consideration. The socio-cultural dimension in the legislation must be considered,” he maintained.