Wole Soyinka, playwright and Nobel laureate, has condemned a bill seeking to regulate water resources in Nigeria.
Rejected in 2018, the national water resources bill 2020 was reintroduced by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in July, and now awaiting passage by the national assembly.
The bill seeks to bring all water resources– both surface and underground, and the banks of the water sources under the control of the federal government through its agencies to be established by the bill.
But reacting, Soyinka called for the deactivation of the bill. He accused Buhari and his predecessors of lacking in vision and had been unable to solve the country’s least water problems.
“A roundly condemned project blasted out of sight by public outrage one or two years ago, is being exhumed and sneaked back into service by none other than a failed government, and with the consent of a body of people, supposedly elected to serve as custodians of the rights, freedoms and existential exigencies of millions,” he said in a statement.
“This bill – bill on national water resources 2020 is designed to hand Aso Rock ABSOLUTE CONTROL over the nation’s entire water resources, both over and underground.
“The basic facilitator of human existence, water – forget for now all about streams of righteousness! – is to become exclusive to one centralised authority. It will be doled out, allocated through power directives from a desensitised rockery that cannot even boast of the water divining wand of the prophet Moses. If the current presiding genius – and this applies equally to ALL his predecessors without exception – had a structured vision of Nigerian basic entitlements, Nigerians would by now, be able to boast the means of fulfilling even that minimalist item of COVID-19 protocols that call for washing one’s hands under running water! As for potable water, for drinking and cooking, let us not even begin to address such extra-terrestrial undertaking!
“What next for the exclusive list? The rains? I declare myself in full agreement with virtually every pronouncement of alarm, outrage, opprobrium and repudiation that has been heaped upon this bill and its parentage, both at its first outing and since this recent re-emergence. It is time to move beyond denunciations however and embark on practical responses for its formal deactivation and permanent internment.
“Let all retain in their minds that, from the same source that preached the ‘streams of righteousness’ is encountered the promise of ‘no more floods, the fire next time.’ In any case, let the promulgators of this obscenity, high and low, understand that the placid waters they think to control unjustly and grotesquely, will turn to be Martin Luther King’s ‘mighty stream of righteousness’ that will overwhelm and sweep them off their complacent, and increasingly loathsome sectarian, conspiratorial heights.”