Speech by Philip Jakpor, Head Media & Campaigns, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) at a press briefing to alert on conflicting reports on PPP water projects in Lagos
Gentlemen and ladies of the press,
The Our Water Our Right Coalition as you already know, is a network of civil society organisations, labour unions, community activists and faith-based groups, all unified in the belief that our water is our common heritage and therefore it must not be commodified.
Some very disconcerting news that has reached us after the Stakeholder Dialogue on the Lagos water crisis that we organised on October 8 made it imperative to quickly call on you again to join forces with us to stop the forces of privatization that are again massing against our people. At the Dialogue we had anticipated that the Lagos governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwolu would come ready to unveil his administration’s plans for the water sector. The invitation was equally extended to the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources as well as to the Managing Director of the Lagos Water Corporation, Engr. Mumuni Badmus. Unfortunately the government only sent representatives who spoke about the interest of the current administration in invigorating the water sector but stopped short of the precise details that Lagosians demanded. Two weeks after, we have just learnt that the current administration may not be different after-all and may have decided to toe the path of previous administrations that were dead set on foisting the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model of water privatization on Lagos citizens.
On October 17, Global Water Intelligence magazine – a high value business information for the private water industry published updated details about the water privatization plans of the Lagos government which showed that, despite the aversion of Lagos citizens the Adiyan II and Igbonla privatizations are said to be imminent. This is in addition to other major waterworks being rounded up for privatization by the year 2022.
It is important to make it explicitly clear that if the two privatization contracts are signed, it will mean corporate grab and control of one-third of Lagos water by the 2023 target of the Lagos government and by the contractual agreements, these corporations would control our water for two decades or more.
We also learnt that the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) will soon release a Strategic Business Plan for the period 2019 – 2024 which has the support of the Lagos State Government yet, did not allow the crucial mass of Lagos citizens to make their input or take their concerns into consideration.
There are also plans to cut “non-revenue water” by half by 2023. This means that the government will crack down on those who may be informally connected to the water system following government failure to provide them clean tap water in their residence.
This raises many serious questions and concerns, including why we Lagosians continuously have to find out about the fate of our water from industry trade journals rather than from our own government.
Doors flung open for privatisers
The latest GWI shows that Lagos state government has awarded the 100 million gallon/day Igbonla project to Brio Resources Technologies and Acuamed. In 2018 this same project was listed as a water treatment plant in GWI but described as a desalination plant by Brio Resources Technologies.
The GWI reports that LWC hopes to reach a financial closure on Igbonla by end of 2019. The project managers are a consortium of Brio Resources and Spanish corporation. Acuamed which has been tied up in an international corruption scandal. Acuamed was recently under investigation by the Spanish government and the European Union’s European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) over allegations of corruption. Several executives of the company were arrested in 2016 in relation to the allegations. In April 2017, the Spanish Parliament even called for reform and eventual replacement of Acuamed following the scandal.
The EU’s OLAF launched a case to coordinate with Spanish investigators because of the alleged use of EU funds in the alleged corruption scandal.
It is surprising and indeed distressing to know that the Lagos Government intends to do business with this kind of corporation.
More privatisers with dirty records
In the GWI publication the 70 million gallon/day Adiyan II PPP which has a 25-year contract length also raises suspicion. Under status, it noted that, The Preferred Bidder had been selected and is awaiting Lagos State Government approval. The report also noted that the LWC hopes to award the contract by end of 2019. The preferred bidder has not yet been named publicly — spurring further concern.
Previously, the shortlisted firms for this project included a consortium comprising the discredited Visionscape Water Solutions Limited aligned with Metito. Others are AG Gold Trust Nigeria Limited, Veolia/Shoreline Group and Abegoa and Naston & Partners.
As we all know, the waste management sector was practically handed over to Visionscape in 2017 when the Lagos government paved the way for the company to take-over waste management under a PPP arrangement after it introduced a bill that merged all waste management agencies in the state into one.
Nearly one year into its operations, the streets of Lagos were replete with uncollected waste littering major roads and front of residences in inner streets. Most residents were on an endless wait for their refuse to be evacuated, to no avail. The situation nearly degenerated into a major epidemic until the Lagos State House of Assembly sacked the company from refuse management.
Veolia played a major role in the Flint and Pittsburgh lead in water crisis in the United States. Till date it has failed to take responsibility for its role in the exposure of residents in the two cities to dangerously high levels of lead, which can impact the people for generations to come. In Flint, between 6,000 and 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead and in Pittsburgh the city is grappling with a lead crisis while Veolia walked away with $1million USD.
What Do Lagosians Want?
What we want is contained in the way forward document – Lagos Water Crisis: Alternative Roadmap for Water Sector which was presented to the previous administration and re-presented to the current administration at the Stakeholder Dialogue. The solutions must be within the framework of broad public participation in developing plans to achieve universal access to clean water in Lagos.
Governor Sanwolu’s administration must hearken to the demands of Lagos citizens that it uphold the human right to water as an obligation of the government, representing the people. He must live up to his campaign promise to be a governor for the people of Lagos, not vested interests.
Lagos citizens and the Our Water Our Right Coalition have said it time and again that the PPP water privatization success story marketed by the World Bank Group is a myth. We have equally cited monumental PPP failures in Nagpur, Manila and across Asia and Africa. Our worry however is that the World Bank and its private arm – International Finance Corporation (IFC) continue to market this failure and deny engaging in behind the curtain talks with the governments including Lagos State.
Until we called out the IFC on its advisory contract with the Lagos government in 2014 the WB private arm was in denial.
Information in the current GWI that the LWC named the IFC as a “potential investor”, despite the World Bank’s unequivocal denial of the IFC’s involvement or plans for the Lagos water sector when civil society met with them in Abuja on February 1 this year is very disturbing. The model the World Bank and IFC are promoting was even spoken against by dozens of members of the US Congress on two occasions in the recent past. Yesterday, Tuesday October 22, the Our Water Our Right Coalition again briefed the US Congress on this new development in Washington DC, bringing the attention of the world to Lagos once again.
We are using this medium to ask Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to discontinue the toxic PPP legacy of his predecessors which Lagosians have resoundingly rejected through petitions, public protests and a Solutions document.
Our other demands are:
- Halt PPP/privatisation of Lagos water infrastructure to transnational corporations like Veolia, Metito, Abengoa
- Disclosure of all IFC and World Bank activity and discussions with Lagos government officials regarding water, including formal and informal advisory roles.
- The Lagos government builds the political will to prioritize water for the people, through a comprehensive plan that invests public funds in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access, which will create jobs, improve public health, and invigorate the Lagos economy.
- Increased budgetary allocation to the water sector
- Institution of Water Trust Fund that will expand public financing of the water sector
I Wont Reverse Minimum Wage Payment, But Heads Will Roll – El-Rufai
The Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai has disclosed that his government has no intention to reverse the recommend minimum wage being paid civil servants in the state, he mentioned however, that workers would be sacked in view of the limited recourses available to the state.
The Governor made disclosure while informing newsmen in Kaduna, of the sack of 99 political appointees in his government.
He said the disengaged appointees constitute 30 percent of political office holders.
He said the state has started implementing its rightsizing policy but is yet to disengage any state civil servant.
The governor disclosed that only agencies connected to the local government system have disengaged staff and these include the 23 local government councils, SUBEB and the Primary Health Care Board.
“So far, 99 political appointees have lost their jobs but we have not commenced rightsizing civil servants. We want to be fair with regards to civil servants. We had earlier promised that before we reduce the size of the civil service, we will start with political appointees and we have done that,’’ he said.
The governor, who spoke in Hausa, said the rightsizing of civil servants will still go on as planned because of dwindling revenues that is accruing to the state government from the federation account.
‘’However, civil servants with question marks on the veracity of their data have to be given a chance to clear the doubts before any action is taken on them,’’ he clarified.
The governor said his government has employed 11,000 more workers in the health sector, Kaduna State University as well as primary and secondary schools across the state.
The governor disclosed that it is a fallacy to allege that the salaries of political appointees account for the bloated personnel cost of the State Government.
‘’In March 2021, the salaries of these political appointees amounted to N259 million , while civil servants were paid N3.13 billion, aside from costs related to state contributions to pension, accrued rights and other personnel costs. So, it is false to insinuate that political appointees are the ones that guzzle most of the state’s resources,’’ he said.
Justifying the rightsizing of the public service, he said that all states and the federal government are affected by the shortfall of revenue and some states have even reverted to paying the old monthly minimum wage of N18,000.
The governor, however, promised that Kaduna state will not reverse the N30,000 minimum wage that it has started paying.
“We are the first government, federal or state, to pay the minimum wage. We will retain the minimum wage of N30,000 and the consequential adjustments that gave most of our civil servants a 66% salary increase. We will also retain the minimum pension of N30,000 monthly.
“The unified Local Government Service continues to pay the minimum wage, even though they varied the consequential adjustments for their workers below the level for state civil servants,’’ he added.
Ohanaeze, IPOB Rubbish Northern Group Over N100m Bounty On Nnamdi Kanu
The Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on Friday hit back at the Northern Consensus Movement (NCM) which, on Thursday, declared IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, wanted and offered a reward of N100m to anyone who can bring him to Nigeria.
Kanu had taken up residence in the United Kingdom after jumping bail in respect of treason charges filed against him in October 2015 by the federal government.
The NCM at a press conference in Abuja late Thursday blamed Kanu and the Eastern Security Network, which is suspected to be the militant arm of IPOB, for the recent attacks on Northerners in the Southeast.
Responding to the NCM’s statement, the Secretary-General of a faction of Ohanaeze, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, asked the northern groups to direct their efforts elsewhere.
He said their N100 million bounties should be placed on the successor of the slain Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.
He said: “We want to tell the groups being sponsored by some northern presidential aspirants to place the bounty on the new leader of Boko Haram terrorist group that has just emerged after the death of Shekau.
“Nnamdi Kanu has an address in London or in Germany where his headquarters of IPOB is. There is no need of searching for Kanu. He is not in Nigeria; he has an address in London as a British citizen.
“They should just use the N100 million bounties given to them by northern politicians, who are trying to destabilise the Southeast, to have easy root for the 2023 presidential ticket of major political parties in Nigeria, especially of the PDP.
“They should place the bounty on Shekau’s successor, who has no address, who is living in the forest, the terrorist group that took arms against the government for the last six years.
“They should not cry more than the bereaved; we will take care of the Southeast and ensure normalcy returns. As far as we are concerned, that bounty is inconsequential and political. It is not necessary, only a means to continue to heat up tension in the polity.”
Isiguzoro dismissed the NCM allegations of killing of Northerners in the Southeast, saying: “for the purpose of record and from the last time, there has not been any killing, except the accidental killing of Ahmed Gulak in Owerri.
“There has not been killing recorded anywhere in the Southeast about Northern people except some nefarious activities of unknown gunmen and killer Fulani herdsmen who have been attacking police stations and government facilities and killing both Igbo and indigenes from other parts of the country.”
Responding for IPOB, its spokesman, Emma Powerful, said the group would not dignify the northern groups with response because “they are inconsequential groups and they don’t know what we’re doing.”
He added: “claiming that they’re representing Arewa means they represent nobody.
“We pity them for challenging Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB because they don’t know what we are made of; they can rant from here to Arewa; we don’t know such groups before.
“They want people to hear their ranting so that people will know that they exist because people don’t know them.
“People that matter in the world are talking about Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and Biafra. We are ahead of them all.”
During its Thursday press conference, NCM said it was declaring Nnamdi Kanu wanted for the continuation of criminal charges against him.
It is offering a reward of N100 million to anyone who can produce him in Nigeria for that purpose.
Kanu had taken up residence in the United Kingdom after jumping bail in respect of treason charges filed against him in October 2015 by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The NCM blamed Kanu and the Eastern Security Network, which is suspected to be the militant arm of IPOB, for the recent attacks on Northerners in the Southeast.
It asked the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the European Union to ensure Kanu’s repatriation to Nigeria.
Dr. Awwal Aliyu, NCM spokesman, said members of the group took it upon themselves as active citizens of Nigeria to declare Nnamdi Kanu wanted for “crimes against humanity and for instigating the killing of innocent Northerners in the Southeast via his hate speech.”
Kanu, according to Aliyu, must answer for “the killing and destruction of Northerners residing and undertaking lawful businesses in the southeastern part of Nigeria.
He added: “So, we are placing a bounty of N100m as an offer to anyone who can produce him alive, hale, hearty, and uninjured to us for onward delivery to the security agencies for the continuation of his prosecution.”
He asked the US, the UK, and the EU, as champions of democracy, rule of law, and freedoms of speech and expression, to “kindly and humbly respect Nigeria’s sovereignty and facilitate the repatriation of Nnamdi Kanu to Nigeria so that he can face his treason, and possibly a fresh terrorism and genocide charges against innocent citizens of Nigeria.”
Obasanjo Contributed To Nigeria’s Crisis, He Should Mind His Utterances –Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says former President Olusegun Obasanjo contributed to the current chaos in the country, adding that the ex-military general should mind his utterances.
He stated this on Friday in a piece titled, ‘Nigeria’s Unity And All The Iberiberism’.
Adesina wrote, “The sabre-rattling about Nigeria’s unity and the possibility of disintegration has got to the point of Iberiberism (a bastardised Igbo word which could mean stupidity). Some people have no other business than doomsday predictions of a crumbled, collapsed Nigeria, as if they actually fast and pray for that eventuality.
“When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was President between 1999 and 2007, they predicted that he was going to be the last President of a united Nigeria. It didn’t happen. When Umaru Yar’Adua came, they said he was too sick to hold Nigeria together. The country stood.
“Under Goodluck Jonathan, they said the man was too weak, and different components of the country would soon say, ‘to your tents oh Israel.’ Nigeria survived. And for six years under Muhammadu Buhari, they have not changed their songs. The Somaliasation of Nigeria was on the way.
The Fulanisation of the country would be the final death knell. But Nigeria lives. It trudges on from day to day, month to month, and will surely survive.”
Adesina said though some people dwell on negativity, “some fathers of the land will not fold their hands and see Nigeria go down”.
“Fortunately, we have one of them as President now. The young Muhammadu Buhari spent 30 months in the frontlines as a young army officer, fighting the war of unity. And he has said it: we will not be around and watch Nigeria go down. Never. We will rather speak to insurrectionists in the language they understand.
“And what of Olusegun Obasanjo, a civil war hero. Despite all that he has contributed to the current upheavals by his actions and inactions, words and bile, he says it is idiotic to wish Nigeria disintegration now. Good. But let us put our money where our mouth is. Let Baba mind his thoughts, and his language,” the presidential spokesman added.
“Nigeria will survive. The polity will endure. And the component parts will live together in amity and brotherhood. Any other option is Iberiberism,” he concluded.
Obasanjo, a military head of state from February 1976 to September 1979, was Nigeria’s democratically elected president between May 1999 and May 2007.
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