Governors of the 36 states have asked the National Assembly to suspend further consideration of the Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 introduced by the House of Representatives until the appropriate consultative process was held, including a public hearing to gather public opinion and concerns.
The governors raised concern over lack of consultation with state governments which are at the forefront of the epidemics.
This was part of the resolutions reached at the end of the 8th COVID-19 teleconference meeting of the governors chaired by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
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The resolution follows an update from the Governor of Sokoto State and Vice Chairman of the NGF, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on the proposed bill.
The forum, therefore, established a committee comprising the governors of Katsina, Sokoto and Plateau to lead a consultative meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020.
The NGF secretariat was also mandated to comprehensively review the bill and its implication on the states.
How bill’s ‘fate’ will be decided – Senate
Meanwhile, the Senate has said that the fate of the bill would be decided during the second reading.
Spokesperson of the Senate, Ajibola Basiru told our correspondent that the Red Chamber was yet to receive official communication from the governors concerning their request.
He said, “The Senate does not act on newspaper reports.
“When and if communication is received by the Senate from the appropriate channel, it will be considered democratically in accordance with the procedure of the Senate and a decision taken by a majority as is expected in a democracy.”
‘Tambuwal’s update informed by personal, partisan opposition’
The House of Representatives in a statement by its spokesperson, Benjamin Okezie Kalu disclosed that it does not legislate for states as such, the governors’ position was misguided.
The Reps said the NGF’s position is coming belatedly as the House had since last week resolved to subject the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill to a public hearing so that Nigerians will have the opportunity to make their inputs towards the draft legislation.
“It is rather surprising that the NGF, in arriving at its decision, relied on “an update from the Governor of Sokoto State,” who, apart from being a lawyer, is a former Speaker and an ex-ranking member of the House, who should know better and guide the Forum accordingly.
“We assume that his position was informed by his well-known personal and partisan opposition to the emergence of the current leadership of the house considering his obvious stance in 2015 and 2019,” the statement added.
It added that the House of Representatives is independent of the control of any state governor or former Speaker.
“Notwithstanding, the House expresses its readiness to work with the Committee raised by the NGF to meet members of the Green Chamber on the Bill.
“The Governors are our critical stakeholders in nation-building, and we understand the importance of working with our Governors at critical moments such as this pandemic period,” the statement read in part.