The Nigeria Governors Forum
yesterday observed that the proposed amendment to the Control
of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020, by
the House of Representatives posed
a threat to the powers of the feder- ating units, insisting that every region has their own peculiarities.
Chairman of the Forum and
governor of Ekiti State, Kayode
Fayemi, said the governors were
not in support of a bill that threatens the powers of the federating units.
The NGF, Nigeria Labour
Congress (NLC), Nigeria Me- dical Association (NMA) and
other stakeholders at the public
hearing organised by the House
of Representatives suggested
amendments to the bill seeking
to repeal the Quarantine Act and
enact the Control of Infectious
Disease, 2020, which has alrea- dy passed second reading.
This is just as speaker of the
House, Femi Gbajabiamila, as- sured that the lawmakers would
consider informed views by Ni- gerians in enacting the bill.
Fayemi, while making his presentation at the public hearing,
noted that that the bill gave governors very scant operational
space to manoeuvre.
Fayemi said the bill seeks to
take away the only authority the
governors have to take specific
steps and measures in their do- mains during a disease outbreak.
According to him, as far as
the NGF is concerned, the bill is un- democratic and its content is in conflict with some aspects of the 1999
Constitution and provisions of Hu- man Rights protocols.
While reviewing some provisi- ons of the Bill, Fayemi said: “The bill
vests all the powers in the president.
The absence of decentralisation of
powers to the states is anachronistic
and a recipe for confusion.
“Given the diversity of Nigeria
and the country’s varying geo-political and social dimensions, and
learning from the current
experiences with COVID-19,
it is imperative that state governments are actively involved in helping to curb the spread of infectious
diseases in each of their states,” he
The Ekiti State governor further
noted that “the dissimilarity in the
country’s composition means that
were the Bill currently before the
House to pass in its present form,
the NCDC was ill-equipped to ade- quately address the peculiarities of
“Again, the Bill appears to vest
overbearing discretionary powers
on the director general of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control
(NCDC) and the central authorities, while making no provision for
reviewing and controlling the exercise of such powers.”
According to him, It is always
dangerous to vest uncontrollable
powers on any one person.
Although the Forum agreed that
the House might have presented the
bill in the interest of the people due
to the exigency of the time, Fayemi,
however doubted that the legislation could be held up to the light of
standard legislative analysis.
He further said: “Any intervention seeking to provide a comprehensive legal and policy framework to
ensure the effective management of
cases involving infectious diseases;
streamlining of public health response and preparedness; involvement and coordination of all tiers of government; and transparency Vin the management of infectious diseases is a positive development but must be conducted within the ucontext of the federation carrying every stakeholder along and holding extensive consultations.
The Nigeria Labour Congress re- presented by its president, Ayuwa
Wabba, highlighted 17 grey areas
in the bill.
Wabba who represented NLC,
Trade Union Congress and ASCAB
said, “Having read through the Bill,
the only reinforcing and overwhelming voice is that of dictatorship.
“In presenting this memorandum, we choose to uphold our con- cern that the claim of commitment to protection of public health and safety does not turn out to be an ex- cuse for the provision of a tool in the hand of an autocrat, empowered to ride roughshod over the fundamen- tal rights of the Nigerian people”
Meanwhile the speaker, Femi
Gbajabiamila, has said that the
House would consider informed
views of Nigerians in enacting the
infectious disease bill.
Gbajabiamila who was represented by the House leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, assured that the
House would consider the views of
Nigerians in passing the Bill.
The chairman, the House Committee on Healthcare Services, Tan- ko Yusuf Sununu, had at the hearing
hinted that about 130 memoranda
were received from different groups
Meanwhile, lawyers have been
reacting to the controversial public
hearing on the control of infectious
disease Bill presently before the National Assembly.
While some lauded the National
Assembly for coming up with such
initiatives, others see it as a recipe
for chaos in the country.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria
(SAN) Dr. Agboola Dare, said the
views of everyone needed to be
sought before the Bill can be deli- berated upon and passed into law.
According to him, ”The National
Assembly should not be in a haste
to pass any Bill they consider good
for the interest of Nigerians. If the
views of Nigerians are not sought,
it may spell doom for the country. If
there is an outbreak of disease, for
example, the federal government
alone cannot handle it; they also
need the state to okay their parts
to make the policies of government
Another lawyer, Abdul Balogun, also threw his weight behind
He said the government needed
to be prepared for eventualities and
should not always wait for a time
of emergency before taking action.
”I agree that the federal government should involve the states in
the passage of the bill because it
will make it easier for the state to
do same in their respective states.
The government should not wait for
outbreak before involving the states. If the states are involved, it will
be difficult to implement.”
But Umar Sadiq, a Kadunabased lawyer said the action of the
National Assembly was in order. According to him, states should domesticate whatever the National As