The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday succumbed to critics opposed to hasty passage of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 without due legislative process, including oppositions to certain sections of the bill. Gbajabiamila at the plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday disclosed that the controversial bill will now go through public hearing in the legislative process.
The Speaker who has been under sociological microscope of integrity and probity in civil society sated at the plenary: “The Control of Infectious Diseases Bill will be put forward to a public hearing where stakeholder contributions will be sought to make improvements to the bill before it is reviewed and debated by the Committee of the whole.
“It is from the accumulation of these myriad views, suggestions and good faith critiques from within and outside the House that we will arrive at final legislation that meets the present and future needs of our country, and which we all can support in good conscience.”
Gbajabiamila debunked the allegations that the House leadership accepted $10 million bribe to speedily pass the bill into law. He noted that the allegation is weighty, threatening that the House would take legal action.
The Speaker also expressed his disagreement with critics who questioned the timing of the bill, saying that the appropriate time to enact the bill is now.
Speaker Gbajabiamila had said: “Suffice it to say that none of these allegations is true. Unfortunately, we now live in a time when conspiracy theories have gained such currency that genuine endeavours in the public interest can quickly become mischaracterised and misconstrued to raise the spectre of sinister intent and ominous possibility.
“In the recent uproar, certain fundamental truths have been lost and are worth remembering.
“Our current framework for the prevention and management of infectious diseases is obsolete and no longer fit for purpose.
“The current law severely constrains the ability of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to take proactive action to prevent the entry into Nigeria of infectious diseases and the management of public health emergencies when they occur.”
The Speaker, however, indicated that the interests of Nigerian citizens are crucial to the lawmakers. He, however, said the social distancing order in containing the spread of coronavirus in the country will not permit public hearing on the bill at the moment. He said at the appropriate time the social distancing order is relaxed, the public hearing will hold.