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Lawan calls for synergy between arms of government to fight pandemic

The National Assembly has reiterated commitment to providing long-term legislative support that would prepare Nigeria to deal with any future health emergencies in the country.

The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan made the disclosure at a public presentation of a report tagged Legislative Responses to COVID-19 in Nigeria, sponsored by Young Parliamentarian Forum and the westminister foundation for democracy.

Dr. Lawan who expressed concern over the condition of health care system in the country emphasized the need for more collaboration between the two arms of government to reduce the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic in the country.

The legislature was also forthcoming in supporting the executive arm, in formulating policies to cushion the effect of the contagion, particularly because of lockdowns, and the attendant adverse effect on personal and public incomes.

“Talking of public incomes, we know what the National Assembly did, particularly to support the Executive arm of government in passing the economic stimulus package, which we graciously did and, I’m sure the legislatures at the state level did the same in their states.

“The relief package was essential to support the vulnerable in our country – those at the lower ladder of our economic pyramid.

“The Research work that is being presented today is obviously a study of the multiple dimensions of legislative interventions, consistent with the role of the institution as a coordinate arm of government.

“The work deserves commendation for not just documenting the legislative actions and responses to the pandemic, but for preparing us for projections on what to do, faced with a similar crisis next time.

I’ll consider that to be the short-term support because this pandemic has revealed so many things, and some of these challenges cannot be addressed immediately. Take, for example, the revelation that our health facilities are so inadequate, and even those that are available are in a deplorable state.

“It will require some time for the National Assembly and, indeed, the government to provide for what will be ‘adequate’ health facilities across the country. And, in fact, that means it will be a long-term goal of legislative intervention, but we are determined to go ahead and do that.”

On how to successfully vaccinate Nigeria’s over two hundred million population in record time, the President of the Senate called on the Federal Government to explore the option of collaborating with international bodies and Nigerian scientists abroad for the development of its own vaccine.

Lawan who bemoaned the difficulty posed by the refusal of the European Union and countries such as the United States of America and India to sell vaccines to developing countries said that Nigeria has the Human Resources to mass-produce the number of vaccines needed to achieve ‘herd immunity’ for the country’s population and that of other developing countries in need of the vaccine.

He said: “Let’s also for example consider the vaccine production that today is becoming a necessity for almost every country.

“Today, the United States of America (USA) is trying to ensure that no vaccine leaves its shores until it is able to vaccinate its citizens to provide herd immunity.

“The European Union is doing the same thing, India which produces quite a lot of vaccines with over one billion population is also controlling and stopping the virus.

“Nigeria has the capacity in terms of the Human Resources to some extent, even though we have lost many of our good ones to the developed world. But some of them are still patriotic, they still want us to have our own vaccine developed.

“This means we have to provide resources for setting up the environment for our scientists to collaborate with international agencies as well as citizens who are now either holding dual citizenships in other countries or are simply our citizens who have gone to other countries for greener pastures for us to have our own vaccines.

The Chairman Young Parliamentarians Forum, Alh. Kabir Tukura, who represented the speaker of the house of Representatives, explained that the Covid-19 Pandemic has forced the lawmakers to adopt innovative technologies to discharge their constitutional duties.

The Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Olatunde Amos remarked that the report has unearthed the best strategies to combating emergences in the country.

The Country Representative, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, sponsors of the research work, Mr. Adebowale Olorunmola said the work, is to contribute to existing Legislative response in dealing with emergencies

He also urged the National Assembly to create a crisis management Team composed of high-level members of the parliamentary administration, for close monitoring of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health and safety of employees and mitigate its impact.

IBRAHIM SHEHU

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