As the world marks 2018 world water day, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the Nigerian government to prioritize the protection of nature over profits in the pursuit of providing the citizenry portable water for drinking and other uses.
The World Water Day is marked annually and reminds government and peoples about the importance of sustainable management of water. The 2018 commemoration has as theme: Nature for Water. It focuses on how to reduce water pollution by exploring nature based solutions to the water challenge and restoring wetlands to improve human lives and livelihood.
In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said the global commemoration should be a wakeup call to the Nigerian government that water is a human right and in its provision, the livelihoods of people should not be mortgaged to privatizers.
ERA/FoEN Deptuy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “as we mark this global event the Nigerian government must now stop sloganeering and join the rest of the world in taking the responsibility of protecting the environment and nature from the abuse of corporations as priority”.
Oluwafemi explained that world over, corporations are implicated in the pollution of water sources which ultimately deny the poor access to clean and odorless water and has compelled most nations to start adopting democratically-controlled water systems in a growing wave of remunicipalizations.
“The sad reality in Nigeria is that government, at federal and state levels have not learnt any lessons from the Flint water crisis in Pittsburgh, United States and other documented examples of corporate destructive interventions in public water in Europe, Asia and Africa which have only brought hikes in rates, pollutions, sicknesses and sorrow to the people.
The ERA/FoEN boss cited Lagos as an example of a state that is on the path to infringing on the right of its people to keep their water from private sector manipulations as it plans to concession its water infrastructure to corporations that have a track record of human rights violations.
“We have told the Lagos government that corporations only leave behind huge loan burdens that the people end up paying, and contaminated water or no water at all for drinking and domestic use, among a host of woes. But unfortunately, due to certain vested interests, the Lagos government is not listening”
He stressed that government at the center is yet to show good example, pointing out that with Nigeria subscribing to Sustainable Development Goal 6 that commits governments to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, no concrete actions can be cited as pointing towards meeting this goal.
“Protecting our ecosystems and natural environment through halting corporate take-over of our public water systems is cardinal to achieving SDG 6. At the Parliamentary level, a resolution affirming the human right to water should also be passed. These are the steps that show seriousness“, Oluwafemi insisted.