PRESS STATEMENT MADE BY DR TOLA WINJOBI THE NATIONAL COORDINATOR CIVIL SOCIETY COALITION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AT A ROUNDTABLE DISCOURSE ON THE NATIONAL WATER RESOURCES BILL BEFORE THE SENATE IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 3RD ANNIVERSARY OF SDGs (#ACT4SDGs) ORGANIZED BY CIVIL SOCIETY COALITION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN CONJUNCTION WITH NIGERIA INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT COMMISSION AT ROYAL CHOICE HOTEL, CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT, ABUJA, NIGERIA ON TUESDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2018
Gentlemen of the press.
All other protocols duly observed.
Today’s occasion is significant for two reasons: the 3rd anniversary of the inception of Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals; and the push for the National Water Resources Bill before the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As we all know, the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN General Assembly on the 25th of September 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which had started 15 years before. The SDGs officially came into effect on the 1st of January 2016 and is expected to drive development efforts of Members States for the next 15 years. The 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs represent a global consensus recognising both the achievements and inadequacies of the MDGs and emerging development challenges and aspirations. The SDGs presents a strong commitment by both developed and developing countries to end extreme poverty and hunger, reducing inequalities and promoting inclusive growth. The SDGs also aimed at preventing morbidity and mortality from diseases, providing access to healthcare and quality education, combating climate change as well as promoting global partnership for sustainable development.
Unlike the MDGs, the process leading to the adoption of the SDGs had been adjudged to be one of the most participatory and consultative in the history of the United Nations. From the global, national and thematic consultations of citizens’ surveys and inter-governmental negotiations, the SDGs processes afforded stakeholders from State Parties to Civil Society Organisations, private sector, the academia amongst others, the opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the new global development agenda.
Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the inception of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. This occasion is being celebrated simultaneously across the globe by governments, civil society organizations, professional associations, development partners, women’s groups, persons with disability, youth and the minority groups. Tagged the Global Day to #Act4SDGs, it mobilises multi-stakeholders, connects and amplifies the impact of local and global actions for the SDGs, and encourages a global movement for the achievement of SDGs. Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development (CSCSD) is not lagging behind as it has instructed its members across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to #Act4SDGs in their various localities. Its own adopted theme is:
“Towards safe, adequate and sustainable water supply services and sanitation for Nigerian people”.
How have we faired in the last three years in the implementation of SDGs in Nigeria? It is sad to note that according to The World Poverty Clock, Nigeria with 86.9 million poor people, has overtaken India as the world’s poverty headquarters. This figure translates to nearly 50 per cent of Nigerians suffering from poverty. According to Action Against Hunger, Nigeria, especially northern Nigeria, suffers the world’s third highest level of chronic under nutrition among children, and this is exacerbated by “lack of access to safe water and sanitation, rising food insecurity, the disruption of basic services due to conflict, and poor knowledge of healthy feeding practices for infants and young children”. A new national survey has shown that about 130 million Nigerians live without access to improved sanitation even as it revealed that Nigeria loses N455 billion (U$1.3 billion) annually due to poor sanitation (Vanguard on line: Sept. 22, 2018). Youth unemployment rate in Nigeria averaged 21.73 percent from 2014 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 33.10 percent in the third quarter of 2017 and a record low of 11.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Going by the figure released in the last quarter of 2016 by the National Bureau of Statistics that 28.56 million youths were unemployed, one can confidently say that the population of unemployed young people has increased to over 30 million in this third quarter of 2018. This is lamentable! It is unacceptable! How can Nigeria achieve SDGs by 2030 in the face of all these damning figures?
Achieving the SDGs is dependent on the political will of our leadership. Governments at all levels only need to walk the talk and stop paying lip service to development issues. Although all the 17 goals are important, they however do not have equal weight. Prioritising the goals is necessary because it is obvious government may feign not having enough the resources to bring about the realisation of the 17 goals by 2030. Whereas Nigeria has the resources, it has all it takes to attain SDGs but self-centeredness coupled with endemic corruption has been the bane of our development over time.
One of the Goals that need to be prioritised is Goal 6 which mandates the governments to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The second target of that goal encourages government to provide access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. This goal is associated with the realisation of some other goals. For example, sound health can be achieved in our community with availability of quality and quantity water supply and good sanitation thus partly achieving Goal 3 of the SDGs.
This Goal 6 is linked to the National Water Resources Bill which the House of Representatives has passed and now before the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is an Act to provide for the equitable, beneficial, efficient and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface and groundwater resources; to establish institutional arrangements for Nigeria’s water resources sector, to regulate the water resources sector and other matters connected thereto.
Though the bill may have its pitfalls, the import and benefits of the bill are what one needs to consider. For example, some people opine that though the bill provides for borehole drilling by River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA) in communities of the States, boreholes would be drilled without the engagement with the communities, LGAs and State level agencies. Meaning that there might not be enough consultations before action is taken, and this is against the spirit of inclusiveness that Agenda 2030 preaches. The Bill should be made to compel RBDAs and other federal agencies providing water and sanitation services within their areas of jurisdiction to carry the States and LGAs along in their plan so that the state apparatus can build community management structure into the plan and include such communities in their investment plans as captured in the monitoring system of the state. The Bill is also criticised as largely a water resources bill while the issue of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) seems to be relegated. If there can’t be a separate bill to address WASH, WASH should be factored into this bill. There also seems not to be enough awareness even at the state level as this is seen as a federal bill. There should be enough education and awareness especially on the roles and responsibilities of the federal level agencies including RBDA against the role of the communities, LGAs and State level agencies so as to prevent conflict of interests.
In fairness, the benefits of the bill outweigh its demerits. The importance on water in national development has been summarized in the statement that emanated from the UN Budapest Water Submit of 11th Oct, 2013 viz; “A sustainable World is a Water-Secured World”. Consequently, for a nation, a sustainable nation is a water–secured nation. The bill when passed is going to be a compendium of all water related bodies which are already in existence as the National In-Land Water-ways and National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna. In implementing the principles under subsections (1) and (2) of the bill, the institutions established under this Act shall promote integrated water resources management (IWRM) and coordinate the management of:
- economic development, social welfare and environmental sustainability;
- land and water resources;
- surface water and groundwater resources;
- the river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment; and
- upstream and downstream interests.
Other benefits of the National Water Resources Bill include:
- Integrated approach for better water resources management for all users to improve their livelihood in the state in terms of agric, domestic and industrial supply and sanitation for good health.
- Identification and harmonization of stakeholders’ responsibilities with a view to increasing coverage and water resources quality control.
- Improvement on the water resources development through effective control of over extraction.
- Addressing conflicting issues amongst stakeholders in the water sector usage and effective regulation of the sector surface and underground water.
- Improvement in the revenue drive of the water sector.
- Opportunity for the state governments to key into and take advantages of funding from Federal Government of Nigeria through water investment.
- The state governments would be able to meet the multilateral Institutions and International Development Partners’ conditionalities and prerequisite for financial support.
- Tendency to meet some of the targets of the SDG 6 on water and sanitation before 2030.
The Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development is ready to partner with Federal Ministry of Water Resources, NIWRMC and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the bill is understood by the senate and passed within this 8th Assembly. We implore the Senate to understand the importance of the bill in contributing towards the socio-economic development and ecosystem sustainability of our country. The Senate, taking a cue from the House of Representatives that has passed it into law with due consultations with stakeholders, should know that passing the bill into law is for the benefit of all Nigerians towards effective, efficient and sustainable water resources management and contributing to the realization of the SDGs. We are ready to further create more awareness on the bill and by sharing the bill to other stakeholders to know the content and understand its importance to water management so as to reduce the risks of environmental hazards as we are witnessing these days.
I wish us all happy celebrations of the 3rd anniversary of Agenda 2030. I wish us fruitful deliberations in pushing for the successful passage into law the national water resources bill, and in pressuring governments “Towards safe, adequate and sustainable water supply services and sanitation for Nigerian people”.
David Tola Winjobi (PhD)
National Coordinator, CSCSD
Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development (CSCSD) formerly known as Campaign2015+ International established in 2010 is a coalition of over 1000 registered civil society and nongovernmental organizations and individuals committed to citizens’ empowerment, human rights protection, development and peace in Nigeria. It is the only registered national coalition of organizations purposely created to be working on the monitoring of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
CSCSD collaborates with other like-minded CSOs around the world to promote public debates and discussions on economic and social issues including human rights. A priority in the agenda of CSCSD, among other actions, is campaigning for pro-poor global and national policies that can accelerate broad-based economic growth, poverty reduction and public accountability, as well as the call for immediate action to reduce the debt burden of poor countries and institute fair trade policies and practices, and ODA development effectiveness among the OECD and other developed countries around the globe. CSCSD envisions a society whose centre-stage is justice, peace, fulfillment of human rights and development in all ramifications. CSCSD, in partnership with other civil society, the poor and the marginalized, the donors, the development partners, and international community, aims at pressuring governments and other stakeholders to account to SDGs and give the lives of people a meaning through upholding justice, human rights and development.
For more information about CSCSD, visit www.cscsdev.org. Wanting to join the largest SDG coalition in Nigeria? Please fill this form by clicking: https://goo.gl/forms/9YRQ0KeE0bwVWSzq1