COVID-19 crisis: Senate President lauds Nigerians in Diaspora on local production of vaccines

•Legislatures incapacitated to check Executive action, redundant ― CNA

The Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, applauded Nigerians in the Diaspora who have expressed willingness in providing support for the production of vaccines in Nigeria.

Senator Lawan gave the commendation in Abuja during the launch of the book on ‘Legislative responses to COVID-19 in Nigeria’, sponsored by Young Parliamentarians Forum in collaboration with Westminister Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

In its findings, the organisers observed that: “Nigerian Legislatures, unlike those compared within other jurisdictions did not have a Business Continuity Plan in place that could be immediately activated in the face of the emerging challenge.”

The Team which conducted the study also frowned at the “Executive dominance in response to the pandemic as the Legislatures could not play a more active role in mitigating the effect of the virus and in checking excesses and inefficiency in Executive actions.”

In his goodwill address, Senator Lawan said: “Nigeria has the capacity in terms of the human resources to some extent, even though we have most of our good ones to the developed world. But some of them are very patriotic.

“They still want us to have our own vaccine developed. And this means we have to find resources for setting up the environment for our scientists to collaborate with international agencies as well as citizens, who are now either holding dual citizenship in other countries or are simply our citizens who have gone for greener pastures, for us to have our own vaccines. It is a must. It is a necessity.

“It is inevitable. Otherwise, Nigeria may not achieve herd immunity in the next four or five years with our over 200 million population. And this is not a fact based on any scientific research. I don’t want to be misquoted.

“I am assuming that if it would take the US up to probably the end of this year to achieve 70 to 75 per cent of vaccination for those that are within the age bracket, some developed countries may be looking at next year.

“With over 200 million, so far we have only about four million. I don’t know how we can get 70 per cent of our people vaccinated and that will translate into about 150 million or even more to vaccinate them in the next two or three years.

“So we need to work hard and provide the legislative intervention in terms of resources and environment for our scientists to work. I listened to a Nigerian scientist who is based in the US yesterday (Tuesday) and he said it would require only one year for a Nigerian project to get its own vaccine. And the vaccine is not supposed to be for Nigerians only and that is why we need international collaboration.”

In his remarks, Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Arc. Olatunde Ojo observed that the “effect of the virus is the near-total destruction of the ability of Legislatures across the world to effectively function as they were caught unawares; thereby denying the people an effective say in governance.”

He maintained that “Legislatures were caught napping and. to a large extent, unable to effectively carry out their statutory roles including acting as a check on Executive action and effectively representing their constituents and guaranteeing good government. Motions and bills were left pending, oversight was abruptly suspended, hearings were called off and members of staff were compulsorily sent home as the legislative systems almost grounded to a halt.”

On his part, the Chairman of Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly, Hon. Abubakar Suleiman urged National Assembly to give prominence to State Assemblies in the ongoing review process of the 1999 constitution.

Hon. Suleiman who doubles as Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly urged National Assembly “to set up a conference to partner State legislatures on constitution amendments,” just as he stressed the need to jettison the tradition of allocating a second-fiddle role, to the State Assemblies, in the amendment process.

Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila underscored the need to deploy innovative techniques to connect the public with legislative actions and urgent palliatives provided for communities in need.

The Speaker who was represented by the YPF Chairman, Hon Kabir Tukura affirmed that the “Parliament plays a key role in over-sighting the implementation of existing policies and legal instruments which will be used to reposition the entire health systems in the country.”

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COVID-19 crisis: Senate President lauds Nigerians in Diaspora on local production of vaccines

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