Infectious Disease Bill: Don’t Allow Tambuwal Mislead You, Reps Reply Governors

The house of representatives has asked the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) not to be misled by the “biased position” of Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto, over the bill to control infectious diseases.

The green chamber said the governors’ demand that the bill should be suspended was informed by Tambuwal’s “personal and partisan opposition” to the emergence of the current house leadership under Femi Gbajabiamila.

The bill, which among other things prescribes compulsory vaccination of every child in Nigeria against some infectious diseases, has sparked public outcry over possible human rights violation.

On Wednesday, the governors’ forum had said Tambuwal, its vice chairman and former speaker of the house, briefed them about the bill during their virtual meeting after which they asked that it be suspended to enable more consultation.

But in a statement issued by Benjamin Kalu, the house spokesman, the lawmakers said while they will welcome any contribution the governors have regarding the bill, the constitution does not demand that they  must concur with such legislation.

“It is rather surprising that the NGF, in arriving at its decision, relied on “an update from the Governor of Sokoto State,” who, apart from being a lawyer, is a former Speaker and an ex-ranking member of the House, who should know better and guide the Forum accordingly,” Kalu said in the statement issued on Thursday.

“We assume that his position was informed by his well-known personal and partisan opposition to the emergence of the current leadership of the house considering his obvious stance in 2015 and 2019 .

“Unlike in a constitution amendment matter, where state houses of assembly have a defined constitutional role to play in effecting any review to it, Bills such as the Control of Infectious Diseases are not by our constitution subject of concurrence of state houses of assembly or state governors. We do believe that our respected Governors are aware of this lawful processes of legislation and should not be misguided by a biased position of a former speaker .

“Notwithstanding, the House expresses its readiness to work with the Committee raised by the NGF to meet members of the Green Chamber on the Bill. The Governors are our critical stakeholders in nation building, and we understand the importance of working with our Governors at critical moments such as this pandemic period.”

The green chamber invited the governors’ forum to make its position on the bill known through a memorandum during the planned public hearing as “no single Governor has called the Speaker or anyone in leadership to express his views till date.”

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