MD NIWA, Boss Gida Mustapha

The Federal Government has directed dredgers, boat and ferry operators as well as other relevant stakeholders to completely ignore a seven day ultimatum issued by the Lagos State Government on complying with the provisions of extant laws, guidelines, rules and policies guiding the use of the nation’s inland waterways.

Lagos State Government had at a joint press briefing addressed by the Commissioners for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde; Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Engineer Ade Akinsanya and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem and Managing Directors of Lagos State Waterways Authority LASWA, Ms Abisola Kamson; and Lagos State Ferry Services, Mr, Paul Kalejaye given boat operators, dredgers and all stakeholders in the inland waterways sector up to seven days to fully comply with all the applicable laws, rules and guidelines in their operations or face the full wrath of the law.

This directive was on the heels of the recent judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, which upheld the powers of the Lagos State Government to control inland waterways within the state.

But in a swift reaction, General Manager in charge of Public Affairs of the National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA, Federal Government’s agency charged with the regulation of activities in the nation’s waterways, Mr. Tayo Fadile has urged the stakeholders to ignore such ultimatum.

The NIWA image-maker in a statement made available to newsmen said that the Lagos State House of Assembly does not have the constitutional powers to make laws regarding activities on the nation’s inland waterways as claimed by the State Government.

According to him, the provision of the nation’s extant laws on the subject matter of the regulation of activities on the inland waterways in the country are very clear and unambiguous and should therefore be respected by the Lagos State Government.

The Commissioners had at the media briefing said the state government was very satisfied with the judgment which he described as clear, unambiguous and a victory for resource control and fiscal federalism in Nigeria.

“There have been various attempts by those who lost out especially the NIWA to whittle down the effect of the judgment of the appellate court”.

“In as much as the state government was not out to antagonise or fight anybody, it would not be cowed or forced to bow to pressure but rather fiercely protect the God-given resources within the state and never relent in championing the cause of true federalism in Nigeria”, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice had said.

He said that contrary to claims by NIWA, the judgment was in favour of the state government, warning that the government would not allow the quest by a Federal Government agency to continue to control the resources belonging to the state from Abuja despite the judgment.