A coalition campaigning against water privatisation has written the trio of Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, former Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu to ask that they publicly reject water privatisation in Lagos and promote solutions within the parameters of the human right to water.
Signatories to the letters include Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Corporate Accountability International, Public Services International (PSI) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE). Others are Women Arise led by Dr. Joe Odumakin, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HoMEF), led by Nnimmo Bassey, Women Environment Programme led by Priscilla Achakpa, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) led by Auwal Rafsanjani, Peace and Development Project led by Francis Abayomi, and Grassroots Africa led by Hawa Nibi Amenga-Etedo.
In letters delivered to the trio on Monday, the groups report that the public-private partnership (PPP) model of water privatisation has proven exceedingly difficult for cities around the world to exit, despite rate hikes, service cutoffs, contract violations, and unfulfilled infrastructure promises. They prevent cities from making crucial progress toward real solutions to water access challenges.
The Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), according to media statements and its website, is pushing a water PPP plan in Lagos that experts say mimics failures in other parts of the world. The groups urged Governor Ambode and other decision-makers to stop this and any other form of water privatisation in Lagos, while asking Asiwaju Tinubu and Oba Akiolu to support and lend their voices to the pro-people campaigns by Lagos citizens to halt the privatisation plans through public statements.
As a workable solution to water shortages and access issues, the groups demanded real solutions that truly address people’s access to water from the prism of human rights. They insisted that solutions cannot be found in corporate management of public goods, but rather in collective investment in water infrastructure and democratic decision-making prioritising the human right to water above profits.
As the letters point out, decades of influence by the World Bank and the private water industry have pushed the currently proposed public-private partnership (PPP) model of water privatisation in Lagos and similar schemes throughout countries of the Global South. The groups stressed that a conflict of interest drives the World Bank Bank’s misleading marketing, especially its promotion of key “success stories” like Manila, Philippines, Nagpur, India, and Bucharest, Romania, where water PPPs have failed.
Most recently, a top executive of Veolia, one of the world’s largest water corporations, has been formally charged with bribery and influence peddling as part of Romania’s crackdown on corruption. As part owner of water corporations that win PPP contracts, the World Bank has positioned itself to profit from this model.
In addition to calling for leadership in rejecting water privatisation, the groups also asked the state government to disclose all International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Bank activity and discussions with the state government officials and the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC) regarding water, including formal and informal advisory roles.