As the debate on the bill to strengthen the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) scales through the second reading, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has aired its voice.
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the House of Representatives’ moves to repeal the Quarantine Act and enact the Control of Infectious Diseases bill had generated widespread criticisms amongst Nigerians.
The bill, which has eighty-two sections was sponsored by the House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.
According to Mr Gbajabiamila, the bill seeks to empower the president, the minister of health, the director-general of NCDC, and the institutions they head, to make regulations on quarantining, vaccination and prevention of infectious diseases in Nigeria.
However, while some lawmakers threw their weight behind Gbajabiamila on the bill, some of his colleagues called for caution against a hasty passage.
Meanwhile, the opposition party said it reject moves by Mr Gbajabiamila to pass the Infectious Disease Control Bill without recourse to the laid down procedure of public hearing to allow Nigerians to participate in the process of making the law.
In the statement sent to POLITICS NIGERIA by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, PDP described such moves to shut out Nigerians from public debate on such crucial legislation as ominous and raises suspicions of sinister objectives as the nation combats the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is especially as the bill seeks to prescribe clauses on critical issues, particularly that of vaccination, which has become globally controversial in the face of raging conspiracy theories on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The PDP is alarmed that such approach is already worsening public mistrust in the polity as well as heightening apprehension over the intentions of the presiding officers of the House of Representatives and the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration at this critical time.
“The political group then insisted that Nigerians must be carried along in the decision-making process of such critical legislation as it seeks to make provisions that will directly affect their health as well as overall individual and collective safety and wellbeing.
“The party stresses that anything short of that would be counterproductive and capable of breeding an avoidable public resistance, especially given the deepening fear and anxiety in the polity over the COVID-19 pandemic.”Addressing Mr Gbajabiamila, the PDP said it counsels him to immediately call himself to order and allow for public hearing on the bill.
“Our party also urges our lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate to stand firm against the passage of bill until there is a public hearing to get the inputs of Nigerians into the proposed law,” the PDP concluded.