Members of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) who converged in Lagos for their 6th Quadrennial State Delegates’ Conference have taken Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwolu to task over the dire water situation in Lagos.
The unionists who met to review the activities of the state council in last four years and elect new officials picked holes in plans by the Lagos state government to privatize water and the deliberate neglect of the waterworks in the state.
AUPTRE National President, Comrade Benjamin Anthony in his address, said that privatization of water must be jettisoned as it will force the more than 70 per cent of Lagosians who presently do not have access to water, to patronizing unwholesome sources to the detriment of their health.
Comrade Anthony also stressed the likelihood of job losses if the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model of privatization promoted by the World Bank is adopted by the state government. Picking up on this, AUCTRE National General Secretary, Comrade Aliu Waheed said that the Lagos government was worthy of commendation for surpassing the federal recommended minimum wage of N30,000 by paying N5,000 extra. He insisted however that the state government was performing badly in the water sector where there is no blueprint for revitalizing decaying infrastructure at the existing waterworks across the state.
Comrade Waheed added that the use of the word corporatization interchangeably with privatization or PPP by the Lagos and other state governments that have abdicated responsibility to for-profit only entities was to confuse the public to pave way to selling off assets belonging to Nigerians.
“The use those words to deflect the fact that they want to hand water resources to privatizers who put profit at the expense of the public and workers whom they will retrench massively.”
According to him, a second front of the battle to control water is at the national level where the Ministry of Water Resources and their allies at the National Assembly are trying to foist an obnoxious National Water Resources Bill on Nigerians.
He revealed that if the water bill is allowed to pass with its obnoxious provisions, Nigerians will not even have access to water for ablution and other normal rites that they currently enjoy.
Earlier, Philip Jakpor who is director of programmes at an NGO – the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) said that the neglect of the waterworks in Lagos was a deliberate and orchestrated attempt by the Lagos government to ground them to pave way for privatization.
Jakpor urged AUPCTRE members to brace up for the likelihood of being blamed for the state of the waterworks and poor access to water as this would be the easiest excuse for the government to lay them off and privatize the state’s water resources.
He explained that the relationship between CAPPA and AUPCTRE dated back to 2014 when the anti-water privatization campaign in Lagos began. He urged the union to conduct a credible election that will lead to new set of leaders who will pilot the affairs of the union better than even the outgoing leaders.
The high point of the opening event was the award of plaques to outstanding members of the union. Those who were recognized are Comrade Ngozi Edet, Comrade Subair, Comrade Oyesanmi Ilesami who was given Special Recognition Award, Comrade Jojolola Oyebanji who got Best motivator award, Comrade Idowu Adelakun – Inspirational legacy award, Comrade Innocent Ogwuje – Rising star award, and Comrade Benjamin Anthony -Outstanding leadership award.