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NASS REPUBLIC: The bungling Health Minister. Two other stories and a quote to remember

2020 budget to be passed on November 28

A Minister and his ways

 

Members of Nigeria’s lower house looked to be in a no-nonsense mood last week. And, many wished that they could regularly sustain the seeming revolutionary attitude.

On Tuesday, they were angry enough to question Nigeria’s Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, due to conflicting statements from officials in government on the activities and whereabouts of the Chinese medical experts who arrived the country last month. They resolved that Osagie should give the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, a “full status report” on the expatriates.

It was Dachung Bagos who, during plenary, demanded a probe into the activities of the Chinese medical personnel. He recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had claimed on May 4 that the Chinese medical experts were on a mission to help the country in the area of capacity building and containment of the festering global disease.

Like other lawmakers, he expressed concerns over what the visitors had been up to in the over one month they had been in the country. He spared no jabs, insisting that the Chinese show proof of their stay in the country.

On Thursday, a be-spectacled Prof. Osagie was dragged and placed in the eye of the storm. He bungled the opportunity to impress when he said, at the daily Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 briefing, that his ministry should not be bothered over the whereabouts of the 15-member team of Chinese doctors he personally welcomed with other government officials at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on April 8.

“I want to explain that first of all, I think not all of them are doctors and I heard that some of them are technicians but they are staff of CCECC.

”The ministry of health is not their host, so we cannot always explain what happened to them or where they are,” he reportedly said.

Ehanire deserves to be thrashed. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has not only exposed our failed healthcare system but also revealed that some government officials will need a good dose of capacity building to manage the tasks that have been assigned to them. If not done, the failings would only cast most of them as having no business in matters of managing the rest of us.

What happened to the much-touted synergy among government officials? Are we to believe it’s all fluke? How come the task force team appeared to be working in silos? Or, did Ehanire fail to do his home work? Did he not have the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola for company? Indeed, for failing to prepare himself adequately for the briefing, should he not excuse himself from further appearances for letting the team and the nation down?

Questions, and many more for Ehanire , who by his action or inaction armed the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with enough darts to throw at the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).


NASS MEMORY LANE:

Who said,

“I will not sit here and listen to you threaten me with suspension. I am a senator like you. You cannot threaten me with suspension?”

See end of post for answer.


Two other stories

This bill can’t wait!

The Senate has asked its ad-hoc committee chaired by the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, to look into Senator Dino Melaye’s report against the Inspector General of the Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris.

Senator Dino Melaye likes to hug the news, and the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill has offered him a big vehicle to ride.

Last Thursday the Federal court sitting in Abuja, for the second time, rejected the request by the former Kogi senator to restrain the passage of the contentious bill being considered by lawmakers in the lower chambers.

It had been argued that since the House of Reps had not been served a court order, it was at liberty to continue with the passage of the bill. This was a welcome breather.

Read also: NASS REPUBLIC: ‘Government magic’, two other stories, and a quote to remember

The frenetic pace continued on May 17 as the house issued a statement against rumours making rounds that the legislative activities on the bill had been halted.

Last Monday, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila added more verve when he informed via his Twitter that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) was now ready to collaborate with them on the bill after kicking against it some days earlier.

Interestingly, the Senate version of the bill took a knock as it appeared to have been put on hold having not passed for second reading last Tuesday before Senators proceeded on a two-week holiday to celebrate, I’d-El-Fitri.

Now, the poser on many lips is why these revered lawmakers would quickly bolt away for holidays after initiating a double-barreled bill that has attracted more criticisms than support.

Couldn’t they have sacrificed the holidays to defend the baby they have conceived? Or, indeed, is the COVID-19 pandemic no longer serious enough to warrant every and any measure to contain it?

Certainly, there should be an end to the political pranks and growing culture of lawmakers disappearing and appearing for reasons that bother mostly on selfish motives.

What is good for the goose…

Eyebrows were raised, few weeks ago after President Muhammadu Buhari requested and got approval for a N850bn loan at both legislative chambers.

Now, the lawmakers at the lower chamber will soon revisit another $22.78bn loan request by Buhari to finance critical projects in the 2020 Appropriation bill as the country plunges into further debts.

The presiding officer, Femi Gbajabiamila revealed last Monday that the loan request was suspended partly because of agitations by members from the South-East geopolitical zone who are alleging non-inclusion in the benefits derivable from the loan.

Gbajabiamila had promised to address the concerns with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and Director of Budget, Ben Akabueze.

Given loud cries of marginalization from the eastern regional bloc, Gbaja’s reassuring posture is commendable as it shows a man willing to build consensus and a stakeholder mentality.

However, it is hoped that the gesture is one founded on a sustainable arrangement.


Answer: Adamawa-born senator Elisha Abbo 

He made the statement in an altercation with a senior colleague, Senator Remi Tinubu after she advised him to comply with the rules of the ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the matter between him and a nursing mother he allegedly assaulted.

Mrs Tinubu advised him following his refusal to swear to an oath.

Mr Abbo is one of the youngest senators in the 8th Assembly.

By Kemi Adelagun…

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