Senate President Ahmad Lawan has accused some government officials of misleading President Muhammadu Buhari to decline assent to some bills passed by the National Assembly.
He said this at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Health.
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The hearing was for the bills for an Act to amend the Orthopedic Hospital Management Board Act No. 21 of 1979 and for other related matters to provide for the establishment of the Federal Orthopedic Hospital, Kuta (Niger State), Bill 2021 and the National University of Heath and Medical Sciences Suleja, Niger State, (Establishment), Bill 2021.
Before declaring the session open, Lawan sought to know if the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and the Minister of State, Health, Dr. Olorunmibe Mamora, or their representatives were present at the hearing.
Having observed the absence of the two Ministers and any representative from the Ministry, Lawan said the development is responsible for President Muhammadu Buhari’s non-assent to some bills passed by the National Assembly.
He accused some ministry officials of giving wrong advice to the president.
Lawan said: “I have a written speech for this event but before then where is the Minister of Health or Minister of State Health? Or is there anyone representing the Ministry of Health?
“This is an anomaly and we don’t take it lightly because sometimes, the National Assembly would process a Bill and the Bill will be taken to Mr. President for his assent and somebody will just go round and misadvise him that that Bill should not be assented to.
“And this is done mostly by Ministry officials. So, it is always in the interest of government and good governance that when there is a public hearing – the ministry, government officials, the technical people – should be around to hear the views of the people.
“And if they have any objection, they should say so in the presence of everyone, they should listen to arguments.
“Therefore it is sad that neither the Minister, nor the Minister of State, nor anyone from the Federal Ministry of Health is here to attend this particular public hearing. And nothing should happen to our Bills.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said “The purpose of the engagement is to articulate the views of stakeholders and the general public on the three bills with a view to coming up with a balanced legislation that would be acceptable to all.”