Reps set modalities for NCDC bill public hearing

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured Nigerians that the parliament will ensure transparency and accountability in the conduct of a public hearing on the Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020.

Gbajabiamila said the public hearing, which is expected to take hold “in the next few week” and last two days, would be physical and open to submission of memoranda and position papers from members of the public.

Gbajabiamila, made this known on Monday while receiving some civil society organisations at his office.

The CSOs, who were led by the Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Clement Nwankwo, also had in attendance, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani; Chief Executive Officer, Women Trust Fund, Mufuliat Fijabi; and Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and  Advancement, Samson Itodo.

Gbajabiamila added that the House would continue to observe its weekly sitting and add more days where necessary, while stressing that the parliament would continue to pass critical legislations during the lockdown period.

He 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.

“In a hall that is supposed to take 300 people, we will have about 40. Those who could not make it (on) 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 television and radio. But 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.”

Gbajabiamila also noted that 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 Speaker added, “In a few weeks, we will set up a post-COVID-19 response team to look at how we react after the pandemic. The Police Act would be laid next Tuesday for consideration, because to reform the police is most necessary.

“We are also working on the codification of the Nigerian Social Investments Programmes so that it is not subject to the discretion of any officer because that is what obtains in other countries.

“On International Monetary Fund loan, we have our work cut out for us, oversight of the loan and other Covid-19 donations will be more vigorous.”

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