Lawan alleges frustration of NASS bills by ministry officials
• Laments ministers’ absence at public hearing
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has berated ministry officials who are quick to “misadvise” President Muhammadu Buhari on bills passed by National Assembly and forwarded to him for presidential assent.
Speaking at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Health on three bills presently before the upper chamber, Lawan warned the officials to steer clear.
The public hearing was on proposals for amendment of the Orthopedic Management Board Act No 91, 1979 and establishment of National University of Health and Medical Sciences in Suleja and Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to Lawan, some ministry officials have made it their business to frustrate bills passed by the National Assembly by ensuring they are denied presidential assent.
He flayed absence of Minister of Health, Emmanuel Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Mamora, and other ministry officials during the public hearing on the bills.
The Senate president underscored the need for representatives of the executive arm of government to be at such hearings, noting that doing so would avail them opportunity of making their input in the light of whatever reservations they may have on a bill under consideration.
“Sometimes, the National Assembly will process a bill and the bill would be taken to Mr. President for his assent, and somebody will just go round and mis-advise that the bill shouldn’t be assented to, mostly ministry people.
“It is always in the interest of government and good governance that when there is a public hearing, the ministry and government officials, the technical people should be around to hear the views of the people. If they have any objection, they should say so in the presence of everyone, so that they listen to arguments.
“It is sad that neither the minister nor the minister of state, or anyone from the Federal Ministry of Health is here to attend this particular public hearing. I feel it is sad, and nothing should happen to our bills.”
Lawan emphasised that the public hearing on the bills became imperative given the need to grow the health sector, by not only increasing facilities but also enhancing the quality of personnel manning the important sector.
“The quantity and quality of personnel in the health sector is as important as the physical features of the sector. While we are worried about growing the structures, we cannot also be less concerned about growing the relevant human resources.
“Manpower in the health sector is a regular focus because of its ability to make the difference between life and death. The formal educational qualification is fundamental, just as training and re-training.
“Added to this is the management element, because of the need to formulate policies, and the attendant proper direction for actualisation.
“It is for this reason that we cannot renege on the obligation to focus on training institutions for a sustainable growth. This is the central focus of the bills we are discussing today,” Lawan explained.
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