By: Reuben Egbah,
A group under the aegis of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), in a town hall meeting has called for the revocation of Plateau state water sector law.
The Bill, was signed into Law, at the wake of the second term in office of Governor Simon Bako Lalong’s led Administration, as part of its first Executive Action.
The town hall meeting held at Millénium International Conference Centre, Jos on the 25th of June, 2019, witnessed participants from various communities, Civil Society Organizations in Plateau state.
In his welcome address, the National President of AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, expressed disappointment in the action taken by the government of the day, stressing that, water is a sustainer of life and a determinant of longevity.
“It is on a sad note that, we are gathered here to deliberate on what bothers on our common future, our common humanity, and our access to this free gift of nature (water), which should not be hindered. But unfortunately, in this state, our access to this God-given gift is under threat”, Comrade Benjamin said.
In addition, he said,, “This law has been criticized not only by AUPCTRE, but also our allies like the Environmental Right Action, the Civil society Coalition for Good Governance and Citizens of this good state from all the communities.
Further, he explained that, on the 16th of April, 2019, there was a public hearing on this same law, “We had bared our minds on its anti people sections which literally opens the doors to Public Private Partnership (PPP), and other models of ceding our water to a few whose only aim is to maximize profit while democratic control is jettisoned.
However, he said, “This law was hastily passed by the last State House of Assembly on their last day of sitting, we had anticipated that, the Governor would stay action on it because of the popular opposition, but, we were wrong”.
At this point, he told the gathering that, “Our gathering is to hear from those most impacted and reiterate our stand that, Governor Lalong should immediately revoke this anti people law and open discussion with the people on how to ensure that clean and safe water is available, adequate and affordable for all irrespective of their status, this must be done within the realm of the public sector”.
Supporting the National President of AUPCTRE, the Chairperson of Plateau Chapter, Mrs. Dorcas Lenkat Yusuf lamented that, “This issue has become necessary and important to be tackled now because, water is very valuable especially for children, girls and women, having in mind that, women generally have their monthly conditions to handle with plenty water. Therefore, we say no and stand against water privatization in Plateau state”.
Others, who spoke in the event are, Akinbode Oluwafemi, from Lagos state, who also narrated the challenges that citizens in the state passed through before stopping the government from selling what he called the people’s mandate, “Government and bad policies cannot be won in the court room, but only by the peoples might on the street. We fight, we win”, he charged.
Likewise, Mr Steve Aluko, who threw more light to the perceived problem when he stressed that, “This can destroy the future of the people of Plateau state because water is more important than food, where a government cannot protect, preserve and provide water, more less food, the people need to rise up to protect their right. So, it is time for CSO’s to partner with communities to stop this evil, as government will come and go but the communities remains. Water has no tribe, religion or personality”.