The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila says the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill was conceived in the best interests of the Nigerian people.
Addressing members at the resumption of plenary session, Mr. Gbajabiamila said since the introduction of the Bill a week ago, there has been a barrage of criticisms against it, with allegations of sinister motives.
The Speaker said the allegation that the Bill was a sinister attempt to turn Nigerians into guinea pigs for medical research while taking away their fundamental human rights was far from the truth.
He said the House would subject the Bill to a public hearing where Nigerians from all walks of life would be given the opportunity to contribute to the draft law.
“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.” The Speaker explained.
The Speaker said that the social distancing guidelines that the House and the whole country operate for the time being would not allow for a usual format of public hearing, but that If a socially distant public hearing becomes workable, they will certainly explore that option.
However, the Speaker said, as representatives of the Nigerian people, members of the House would never contemplate doing anything that would jeopardise the well-being of the citizens.
Mr. Gbajabiamila explained that “Suffice it to say that none of these allegations are true. Unfortunately, we now live in a time when conspiracy theories have gained such currency that genuine endeavors in the public interest can quickly become mischaracterised and misconstrued to raise the spectra of sinister intent and ominous possibility.
“This House of Representatives will never take any action that purposes to bring harm to any Nigerian here at home or abroad. As we have thus far shown by our conduct, the resolutions and actions we take in this 9th House of Representatives will always be in the best interests of the Nigerian people who elected us, and no one else.
“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.”
Last week, the bill scaled first and second readings but some lawmakers opposed attempt to pass the third reading of the bill to allow them go through the sixty-page document.