Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has revealed that the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill was conceived in the interests of Nigerians.
He noted that the allegation claiming that the Bill is an attempt to use Nigerians for medical research and take away their fundamental human rights is a lie.
The claim was contained in a statement released by the speaker, on Tuesday, through his spokesperson, Lanre Lasisi
Gbajabiamila called on Nigerians not to be controlled by the belief that every policy proposal or response is “a result of personal inducement or a grand conspiracy to bring harm to the people on whose behalf we hold political office.”
He further stated that since the introduction of the Bill, there have been criticisms against it, with allegations of sinister motives.
“Suffice it to say that none of these allegations is true.”
“Unfortunately, we now live in a time when conspiracy theories have gained such currency that genuine endeavours in the public interest can quickly become mischaracterized and misconstrued to raise the spectre of sinister intent and ominous possibility,” he said.
“This House of Representatives will never take any action that purposes to bring harm to any Nigerian here at home or abroad. As we have thus far shown by our conduct, the resolutions and actions we take in this 9th House of Representatives will always be in the best interests of the Nigerian people who elected us, and no one else.”
“In the recent uproar, certain fundamental truths have been lost and are worth remembering. Our current framework for the prevention and management of infectious diseases is obsolete and no longer fit for purpose.”
“The current law severely constrains the ability of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to take proactive action to prevent the entry into Nigeria of infectious diseases and the management of public health emergencies when they occur.”
“Even now, the government remains vulnerable to claims that some directives already being implemented to manage the present crisis do not have the backing of the law and therefore cannot withstand judicial scrutiny.”
“I disagree wholeheartedly with the suggestion that this is not the ideal time to seek reforms of the infectious diseases and public health emergency framework in the country.”
He said the weaknesses of the present system have already manifested in the inability of the government to hold to proper account those whose refusal to adhere with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines led to the further spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria.
“We have had people break out from isolation centres, and others, fully aware of their status, chose to travel across state lines on public transport.”
He said as the number of those currently infected by the coronavirus continues to rise alongside the number of those who have died, there is no timeline for when the disease will pass, “and nobody can predict when the next public health crisis will occur, just as nobody predicted the present predicament.”
The Speaker added that citizens may sometimes disagree with the how and the whys of policy proposals, but that the parliament of the people is not an echo chamber.