The Constitutional Right to Water and Water Governance in Nigeria: An Overview


Under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), the right to clean and accessible water is categorised as an economic and environmental objective of the state. The Constitution further considers the right to clean and accessible water as a socio-economic right, which makes it unenforceable or non-justiciable. Irrespective of this constitutional provision, the Courts in Nigeria are beginning to delve into the justiciability of socio-economic rights and have restated that there can be instances where it can be inferred that the government has expressed its intention to make a socio-economic right justiciable. The findings from case law are that Chapter II of the Nigerian Constitution is justiciable if the National Assembly exercises its constitutional powers to establish bodies to handle matters that are enumerated under the fundamental object and directive principles of state policy and enact laws to regulate these bodies. This position by the Supreme Court trumps other judicial considerations and will be upheld as the true position on the enforcement of socio-economic rights in Nigeria, including the right to water. Considering that the right to water has gained legal, policy and institutional consideration in Nigeria, this paper recommends that this intervention is made perfect.