Water resources bill: There are no plans to impeach Gbajabiamila – Reps

Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday said there were plans to impeach Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House if he does not allow the passage of the controversial water resources bill.

Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, majority leader of the House, accompanied by Ndudi Elumelu, minority leader; Musa Sarkin-Adar, the chairman northern caucus in the House; Sada Soli, sponsor of the bill and Abubakar Fulata, the chairman of rules and business committee made the clarification while addressing journalists at the National Assembly, Abuja.

A online newspaper reported that northern lawmakers in the House of had allegedly concluded plans to impeach the Speaker, Gbajabiamila, should he fail to support the controversial Water resources bill during its second reading.

According to the publication, the Northern lawmakers who were bent on making sure the bill succeeds, had already asked the Clerk of the House to prepare an ‘addendum’ and plan to take their counterparts from the Southern part of the country unawares, to ensure the bill successfully passes second reading.

But Ado-Doguwa described the report as malicious, baseless, mischievous and unfounded stressing that members of the House had never contemplated impeaching the speaker.

He said: “This House in every aspect of its all ramifications had never had an instance where we contemplated impeaching our able speaker, Rt Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila. The House of Representatives under the leadership of Gbajabiamila has been a very stable House, united and we are even out to join hands with the executive arm of government to see to the development of our dear nation, Nigeria.

“The issue of insecurity as raised by my very good friend, the leader of the opposition is one major problem that we must have acknowledged and must also give it to the fact that the government is not resting on its oars.

“Mr President is doing the best he could, the Armed Forces are also joining forces with the government to make sure that this thing comes to an end and it is my commitment that this government will fight insecurity to its knees.”

Similarly, Elumelu, described the publication as ridiculous, stressing that the idea to impeach Gbajabiamila was dead on arrival.

According to the minority leader, the lawmakers were more worried about the rising insecurity in the country and not with such frivolities.

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He said: “I know my colleagues whether APC, PDP or any other party, it’s not what we are thinking about. It’s very unfortunate that people will want sponsor that kind of stupid information. Nigeria is under siege, presidential guards were attacked yesterday. Recently Kuje prison was evaded.

“Also the minister of education just asked the students to go back home. We don’t even know if here will be invaded, the insecurity in the country should our concern. Whoever is dreaming about the impeachment of the speaker it remains a dream , it’s dead on arrival.”

Earlier, Arda, chairman of the northern caucus had raised a point of order saying the report that the lawmakers led by him concluded plans to smuggle in the bill during the holiday and to impeach speaker Gbajabiamila is not true.

Also, Fulata, chairman of the committee on rules and business explained that bills have procedures and the passage of any of them can not be imposed on any lawmaker.

He however, described the insinuation that the northern lawmakers instructed the clerk to bring it after southern members might have left the chamber as quite unfortunate, adding that the northern members are solidly behind Gbajabiamila.

In his contribution, Soli, the chairman of water resources committee urged journalists and members of the public to pick the water Act of United Kingdom, Korea, USA and other jurisdictions and compare it with the ones in Nigeria.

Ruling, Ahmed Idris-Wase, deputy speaker who presided over the sitting
said the 9th House is united and referred the matter to the committee on ethics and privileges to look into it.

Wase said: “I want to plead with my colleagues to tow the line of what has been mentioned to us, to trust one another. To believe that we are working as a family. We should not be carried by emotions and sentiments towards dividing us. We remain the symbol of democracy in this country and in any nation the parliament is a symbol of democracy.

“We are one here, there’s nothing like that going on, I’m a northerner and I’m not aware. Maybe they are planting stories to gang me against my colleagues but we are one and in unison in terms of our activities. I rule that the matter be referred to the committee on ethics and privileges.”

The water resources bill which failed to sail through in 7th and 8th as well as the current 9th Assembly was reintroduced recently and has been generating negative reactions from some lawmakers and other stakeholders.

The bill had sought to transfer the control of water resources from the states to the federal government, which state governors and other stakeholders rejected.

The proposed legislation was opposed due to some of its provisions such as those in clause 13 which provided that: “In implementing the principles under subsection (2) of this section, the institutions established under this act shall promote integrated water resources management and the coordinated management of land and water resources, surface water and ground water resources, river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment and upstream and downstream interests.”

Also section 2(1) of the bill provided that: “All surface water and ground water, wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people,’’ while Section 120 of the bill makes it compulsory for Nigerians to obtain a driller’s permit before sinking a borehole in their homes”.

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