Plans by the Ogun State government to privatize water, through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model promoted by the World Bank, is a recipe to enslave citizens of the state, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) have warned.
The groups, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said that no consultation was made with the people; and neither was there input from civil society and the labour unions at all the stages that got the bill to the table of Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
The bill, awaiting his signature is said to have speedily passed through the State House of Assembly on 13 May 2015.
The development in Ogun resembles that of Lagos, where intense local and international demands for disclosure in October 2014 forced the World Bank to open up on a water privatisation scheme, which centers on the appointment of its private arm — the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to design a PPP water scheme.
The Lagos project, just like what is unfolding in Ogun State is shrouded in utter secrecy, with no input from critical segments of the population that it will supposedly benefit. The bank had initially said it had no deal with the Lagos government but swiftly announced it had cancelled the IFC contract following global pressure.
ERA/FoEN Deputy Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “It is utterly disappointing that the Ogun State government is toeing the same path we have observed and campaigned against in Lagos. We urge Governor Amosun not to sign away the sovereignty of the state residents by this anti-people initiative promoted by the World Bank.
“PPPs have a devastating track-record which include rate hikes, sporadic access, unsafe water, and infrastructure neglect so we are in solidarity with the Ogun people in rejecting this false solution to making a basic human right accessible”
Ogun State Secretary of AUPCTRE, Babatunde Omotola said: “the bewilderment of Ogun people is further heightened by the fact that the bill before the governor will worsen their plight having watched for years how successive administrations have deliberately allowed public water infrastructure to collapse to pave the way to a loan arrangement which will place more burden on the residents”
According to Omotola, while the Ogun State government is obligated to identify ways to ensure the rights of citizens to safe and potable drinking water, prioritising the human right to water above and over profit motives should be the driver of such a policy, even as he added that “we also demand a probe of all the loans thus far sunk into water projects in Ogun State”
The groups urged the Ogun State government to halt the planned privatization and instead, integrate broad public participation in developing plans to achieve universal access to clean water including investing in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access, to sustain and create jobs, improve public health, and invigorate the Ogun economy.