*Proposed legislations on data protection, police training pass second reading
*Lawmakers direct NDDC to halt release of N15bn to FG
Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives at the plenary yesterday, passed through second reading a bill to mandate medical doctors to practise in Nigeria for at least five years before moving abroad if they want.
The proposed legislation tilted, “bill for an Act to Amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, to mandate any Nigeria trained Medical or Dental Practitioner to Practice in Nigeria for a minimum of five before granted a full licence by the council in order to make quality health services available to Nigeria,” was sponsored by Hon. Ganiyu Johnson.
In his lead debate, Johnson said the proposed legislation seeks to cure the exodus of brain drain and build the manpower in medical sector.
He opined that Nigeria-trained medical or dental practitioners must work in the country for a minimum of five years before they are granted full licenses.
Opposing the bill however, Hon. Nkem Abonta, described it as offensive, saying: “I have the eyes of seeing bills that will not move on well. What this bill is asking is offensive. The bill is asking that any Nigerian trained medical doctor must mandatory train five years before he can be given licence after qualification, you must work here compulsorily that’s not obtainable in any clime.”
Reacting, Johnson argued that it was fair for medical practitioners who had benefited from taxpayers’ subsidies to undergo mandatory service for a minimum number of years in Nigeria before taking their skills abroad.
“Government has invested so much money in training these medical doctors, on the average. Recently, the United Kingdom opened healthcare visa to people, they were all going to UK, USA, Canada so should we fold our hands.
“So to give back to our society after training you, the least we can get from you after your Housemanship before you’re given full license you practice for 5 years before you can go.”
The bill was thereafter put to a voice vote and majority of the lawmakers supported it.
Also, the lawmakers passed through second reading the Nigerian Data Protection Bill and police force college training schools and institutions establishment bill.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, written to the House, urging the lawmakers to consider the bills.
Buhari in the letters had explained that the data protection bill seeks to provide a legal framework for the protection of personal information and establish a data protection commission for the regulation of processing of personal information.
For the police force college training schools and institutions establishment bill, the president had said the proposed legislation seeks to provide a comprehensive institutional framework for the establishment of the Nigerian Police Force College for the provision of specialised training to officers in law enforcement to enhance their performance.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has mandated the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to put on hold the release of N15 billion counterpart funding requested by the federal government, pending the approval of the Commission’s budget by the House.
The directive followed the adoption of urgent public importance moved by Hon. Unyime Idem (PDP, Akwa Ibom) at plenary yesterday.
Moving the motion, Idem noted that the Ministry of Niger Delta was inaugurated and commissioned by the Presidency to attend to intervention and humanitarian needs of the Niger Delta region of the country and promote the physical development of the Niger Delta region.
He acknowledged that since its inauguration, the Ministry of Niger Delta has executed fundamental and important humanitarian intervention projects across the region.
Idem, disclosed that the NDDC Budget estimates for 2021, 2022 and 2023, were before the House for legislative approval, adding that such request for intervention and humanitarian proposals by the federal government without requisite financial appropriation and approval by the House was illegal and a breach of the Appropriation Act.
He said the House was aware that part of the fund available for use by the Commission was money recovered on its behalf by EFCC and given to the Commission to ease the implementation and its financial obligations.
The lawmaker added, “part of the fund available for use by NDDC is money recovered on its behalf by the EFCC and given to the Commission, to ease the implementation and its financial obligations.
“The federal government sent a special request mandating the Ministry of Niger Delta to jointly finance an intervention and humanitarian programme of sums running into several billions of naira using the money recovered by the EFCC without budgetary provision.”
Adopting the motion, the House mandated the committee on NDDC to scrutinise such request made by the federal government and report back within two weeks for further legislative action.