Nigerians consider it appalling, and have condemned in strong terms, lhow some members and the leaders of the House of Representatives would try to hurriedly pass the CONTROL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES BILL 2020 which scaled first and second reading within few hours on April 29, 2020. Though, the said Bill, which was sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, seeks to empower the Nigerian Center for Diseases Control (NCDC) and make it more proactive, but the contents of the said bill and the way it is being passed in a haste, makes one to wonder if there is an agenda being implemented by the Leadership of the House or the NCDC? In fact, the sweeping powers of the Director General of the NCDC as contained in the said bill will shock you.
What is even more troubling is the fact that these Lawmakers are doing this when virtually most parts of the country are on lockdown. We all know how long it takes for certain bills to be passed and signed in this country. Now that a very sensitive bill which bothers on the health and wellbeing of Nigerians is in the floor of the House, it has passed its first and second hearing within few hours. A Bill that empowers NCDC to forcefully do things at will. This is against the tradition of Bill reading and passage in the House, as the 55 pages document of the bill was not given to the members of the House for them to go through and understand what were the contents of the Bill they were being rushed to pass.
Some members of the house raised alarm on this anomaly, poked further and learnt that there were many suspicious and controversial contents of this Bill, among them being that NCDC will now have unlimited powers to force every citizen of Nigeria to be vaccinated and be issued vaccine certificate, failure to accept to be vaccinated and be certified (by any means they deem fit) you will not be allowed to purchase air tickets, board flights or move about in public places. Aside the fact that this is nothing but a “time chemical bomb,” the issue of Covid-19 vaccine has raised doubts about its genuineness, as it has not been formulated yet.
According to reports, Gbajabiamila said that the Control of Infectious Diseases bill, sought to empower the NCDC to make it more proactive and not just reactive and function when there is an outbreak. He said when the bill is signed and becomes law, the NCDC will be empowered and may administer necessary vaccines to curb the spread of pandemics. The lawmaker said that the bill also seeks to make provisions relating to quarantine and make regulations for preventing the introduction and spreading of infectious diseases in Nigeria. Gbajabiamila said that Quarantine Act which had existed for many years, was now ‘primitive and weak’ to meet the current demands. He said that it took the COVID-19 pandemic to realise the weakness of the Quarantine Act, saying that the Control of Infectious Diseases bill would replace the old provisions with modern ones. According to Gbajabiamila, the Infectious Diseases bill also seeks to empower the President and the Minister of Health to exercise certain necessary powers at first instance, during any outbreak. The lawmaker, however, said that at second and third instances, the President would have to seek the approval of the National Assembly.
All well and good one might say. However, it is worthy to note that some lawmakers were not comfortable with the speed at which the Speaker of the House wanted the bill to be passed. Chris Azugbogu (PDP- Anambra), said that the Quarantine Act does not only involved human but animals. He noted as well, that there was need to carry all relevant institutions along to ensure maximum productivity. Representative Sergius Ogun (PDP-Edo) said that there was need to be very careful with the powers that would be conferred on NCDC to administer vaccines. According to him, rather than pass the bill and send it to the Senate for concurrence, it should be sent to the relevant committee for more work to be done on it. Also, Representative Bamidele Salam (PDP-Osun) said that pandemic times such as this, offered an opportunity for all to critically look into procedures and processes of doing things. Salam said that the bill which was supposed to have been circulated among members ahead of debate in line with the procedures of the house, had not been given to him. In his words: “I have not seen the bill and I have asked some colleagues around here and they do not have either. I do not know if the bill compels states to establish centers for emergencies, I do not know if the bill makes it compulsory for palliatives measures under such circumstance. I suggest this bill is stepped down and distributed to all members to give us the opportunity to look at it very well,’’ he said.
What was more troubling is the fact that when the Deputy Speaker, Representative Ahmed Wase put the matter to vote, most members voted against it but he ruled that the bill be passed for second reading. However, when it was time for consideration of the bill at the Committee of the Whole House before it was passed for third reading, Gbajabiamila said that it should be stepped down to Tuesday, June 4, 2020 to enable members go through the bill. It is on that note that a lot of Nigerians have taken to social media platforms to also condemn the said bill with the hashtag: #StoptheNCDCbill. How can we be in a supposed democracy, a bill got to second reading and almost 50% of the House have not seen or read the bill? Obviously, there is more to this unfortunate bill.
Two lawmakers from the House who were on Channels TV Sunrise program recently, who were asked what their opinion on the Bill was, clearly stated that the Bill is suspicious and lend an amazing credence to the conspiracy theory that has been in circulation over sometime now on forced vaccination and identification by some certain global powers. They insisted that every content of the Bill must be made public and proper clarification given on the Bill contents and implementations. In fact, I was shocked watching a member of House, Ben Kalu on @sunrisedailynow trying to defend the daylight robbery of the voice vote against the bill passing second reading, where the presiding officer gave it to YES, when it was audible to the deaf that NAYS had it.
Truth is, a country that just keeps receiving money from anybody will ultimately fulfil the agenda of their benefactors. This is exactly what we are seeing happen now. A government of visionless leaders who do not understand the psychology of reciprocation will even collect water from the devil and give her citizens the cup to return. That is the unfortunate situation Nigeria has been put in. And it is the same in most African countries. In fact, the entire Africa is gradually taking steps into ‘modern day slavery’… The super powers keep doing anything to ensure we remain incapacitated and always rely on them and sadly, our political leaders are towing the line.
Some experts have also noted that the said NCDC Bill is identical to the contents of a similar bill in Singapore. And they wondered how could the Speaker and some members of the House, almost copy and paste Singapore’s Infectious Diseases Act (IDA), which was enacted by its Parliament in 1976 and came into force on 1 Aug 1977, for Nigeria’s NCDC in 2020? We can see that a lot of things are wrong with the said NCDC Bill, which I ask that every Nigerian should be interested in, and condemn wholeheartedly.
By: Zik Gbemre.