The Senate has reacted to the call by Governors on the National Assembly to suspend its consideration of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, in a message on his verified twitter handle @DrSRJ_ said the Governors have not formally communicated their request to the upper chamber.
He said he “personally thinks” the Governors may engage their respective Senators on their concerns about the Bill who will then take it up on the floor of the Senate during the second reading of the Bill.
Recall that there has been a widespread uproar about the consideration of the bill by both chambers of the National Assembly.
The “Control of Infection Diseases Bill 2020”, sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, has since passed both first and second reading in the House of Representatives.
A similar Bill titled: “National Health Emergency Bill”, sponsored by the Chairman Senate Committee on Communicable Diseases and Primary Healthcare, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North) has also scaled first reading in the Senate.
The states’ chief executives called for the immediate suspension of the Bills after the 8th COVID-19 teleconference of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF)
Read Also: Governors ask National Assembly to halt Infectious Disease Bill
The governors, in a communiqué expressed discomfort that they were not consulted by the National Assembly on the infectious diseases bill as the leaders of the anti-COVID efforts in their respective states.
According to the communiqué which was signed by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi: “The governors raised concern with the lack of consultation with state governments, who are at the forefront of the epidemic.
“The forum resolved that the bill should be stepped down until an appropriate consultative process is held, including a public hearing to gather public opinion and concerns.”
According to the communiqué, members of the NGF took the decision after they were briefed by Sokoto State Governor and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal on the content of the bill and the implication of its passage into law.
The NGF established a committee comprising the Governors of Katsina (Aminu Masari), Sokoto (Tambuwal) and Plateau (Simon Lalong) to lead a consultative meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the controversial bill.
The NGF also mandated its secretariat to comprehensively review the bill and its implication on states.
However, the spokesman of the Senate, Senator Basiru in a statement on his Twitter handle said: “As to inquiry on what is the position of the Senate to the newspaper report on the call for suspension by Governors of the infectious disease bill.
“The Senate does not act on newspaper reports.
“When and if a communication is received by the Senate from appropriate channel, it will be considered democratically in accordance with the procedure of the Senate and a decision taken by majority as is expected in a democracy.
“So I cannot predict what will be the disposition of majority of the Senate to the “advice” of the Governors to.
“The Bill is yet to be read the Second time at which stage, by Senate Orders, the principles of the Bill will be discussed and a decision taken on whether the Bill should proceed for further legislative processes.
“Personally, I think the governors may engage the Senators in their respective states on whatever objections they have on the Bill so that it may be taken up on their behalf by the Senators from their states during the second reading.”