Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has disclosed that a two-day public hearing would be held within the next few weeks on the on the controversial Infectious Disease Bill.
The Speaker said the public hearing would be open to submission of memorandum and position papers from members of the public.
Gbajabiamila, made this known on yesterday when he received some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), who paid him a courtesy call in his office.
The CSOs were led by the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr. Clement Nwankwo; the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Chief Executive Officer, Women Trust Fund, Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi and the Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Mr.Samson Itodo,
Gbajabiamila said: “On the Control of Infectious Disease Bill, we are aware that many of the comments it generated are genuine, some were political and some were clearly based on the misunderstanding of the bill. But we cannot ignore any and that is why we are taking it to public hearing. It is going to be conducted over two days and because we don’t want to endanger anyone’s life, all the COVID-19 protocols would be observed. So, in a hall that is supposed to take 300 people, we will have about 40.
“Those who could not make it the first day would have the opportunity to be there the second day. The public hearing would be physical because this is all about transparency and accountability. We don’t want to endanger the lives of Nigerians. It will be beamed live on TV and Radio. Those that cannot make it to the public hearing will have the opportunity of sending their memorandum to the House.
“The bill that will be passed by the House will be the aggregate of the submissions of Nigerians.”
The Speaker further said the House would step up its oversight responsibility on issues around the COVID-19 palliative programmes.
He also said the Police Act would be laid next Tuesday for consideration.
“This is because the reform of the police is most necessary. We are also working on the codification of the Nigerian Social Investments Programs so that it is not subject to the discretion of any officer because that is what obtains in other countries. In a few weeks a post COVID-19 response team will be set up to look at how we react after the pandemic. On the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, we have our work cut out for us as oversight of the loan and other COVID-19 donations will be more vigorous.
“The House would continue to observe its weekly sitting and add more days where necessary. The House would also continue to pass critical legislation during the CO VID-19 period. The timely passage of the first Economic Stimulus Bill was borne out of the urgency to address the economic implication of the pandemic on the country. The bill is meant to among other things avoid job loss of Nigerians and to ensure tax relief for Nigerians and their employees during these times. It also seeks to ensure the availability of funds for protective materials and sensitive materials needed by frontline health workers in their line of duty,” the speaker said
Earlier on, Rafsanjani urged the House to ensure effective oversight and checkmate the sharing formula used to distribute the palliatives that were provided by the federal government.
Itodo commended the Speaker over the timely passage of the Economic Stimulus Bill and expressed worry that the bill has not made any progress since then.
He advised the Senate to expedite action on the bill that would address the survival of the organised and informal sectors of the Nigerian economy.