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Infectious Disease Bill: Governors fault Reps, says they were not consulted in putting bill together | Thekokospot

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Infectious Disease Bill: Governors fault Reps, says they were not consulted in putting bill together

PublishedBy: in NewsJune 11, 2020

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum NGF, on Wednesday, faulted the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill as the House of Representatives commence the long-awaited public hearing on the controversial legislation.

NGF Chairman, Kayode Fayemi who is also the governor of Ekiti State , who represented his colleagues, stated that: “The Act gives governors very scant operational space to manoeuvre. And regrettably, the proposed bill took away even that. This bill takes away the only authority the governors have to take specific steps and measures in their domains during an outbreak of an infectious disease.”

Fayemi noted that as far as the NGF was concerned, the bill is undemocratic, as it conflicts with some aspects of the Constitution and negates the provision of human rights.

Although the NGF chairman  admitted that the House might have presented the bill in the interest of the people, due to the exigency of the times.

He doubted the proposal could be held up against the light of standard legislative analysis.

Saying that, “It is evident that too much power has been given to the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and taken away from states and local governments, he said.

“The Nigerian Governors’ Forum is concerned that governors were not consulted in putting the bill together, neither was any role created for them, in utter disregard for their constitutional functions. Section 6 of the Quarantine Act states that the president and within each state, the governor thereof, may provide such sanitary stations, buildings and equipment, and appoint such sanitary anchorages as he may think necessary for the purposes of this Act.

“Similarly, Section 8 of the Act gives state governors the power to exercise the responsibilities vested in the president under the Quarantine Act, where these responsibilities were not exercised by the president. Taking away this power of the state government in the proposed new bill would cause untold hardship and suffering in states and negate the principles of federalism.”

Speaking further he said, “The NGF posits that for any disease with significant threat to public health that would require authorising measures that may potentially infringe on otherwise reserved human liberties, the proposed measures must take into account some key ethical considerations, which include: public health necessity – the measures must be exercised on the basis of a confirmed or suspected threat to public health of the country; reasonable and effective means – the means by which these measures would be implemented must be effective to prevent or reduce spread.

“Least restrictive intervention – the measures proposed must be the least restrictive interventions required among the number of measures considered to reduce or prevent spread; distributive justice – the risks, benefits and burdens of any restrictive measures must be shared fairly between all classes of peoples.

“Trust and transparency – the public should have an opportunity to participate in the formulation of policies and laws and implementation should be open and clear to promote public trust which is crucial for preventing infection spread; procedural rights – rights of individuals to contest an order or proceeding should be protected as much as possible.

“Fair compensation – in cases of considerable economic losses as a result of the imposition of such measures, international recommendations proffer that fair compensation is provided to those individuals.”

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