Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has charged the government to speed up the local production of vaccines to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases in the country.
The House also mandated its Committees on Healthcare Services and Health Institutions to meet with the Minister of Health, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the chief executive of May and Baker Nigeria Plc to brief the parliament on the needed legislative support to fast-track the production of vaccines in the country.
The committees are expected to report back to report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative actions.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Chike Okafor on the “urgent need to speed Up local production of vaccines in Nigeria” yesterday’s plenary.
Okafor, in his motion recalled that “in 2017, the Federal Government signed a partnership agreement with May and Baker Nigeria PLC to float a company named Biovaccine Limited for the commencement of local vaccine production in Nigeria, however, the company is yet to commence the production of those live saving vaccines.”
The lawmaker contended that while African countries like South Africa, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Senegal have functional laboratories for production and export of vaccines for use and export, Nigeria spends over N4 billion annually on importation of vaccines, an amount which, if vaccines are locally produced will reduce the volume of monies spent on importation, local delivery, insurance and handling charges.
The House charged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the agricultural sector to ensure food security in the post-COVID-19 era.
The House also urged the executive arm of government to subsidise fertilizers and agricultural implements, grant loans and other incentives to encourage massive investment in farming.
It equally implored the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministry of Agriculture and agricultural banks to provide more incentives to farmers across the country as well as sensitise the public on the viability of all-season-farming in the country.
These followed the adoption of a motion by Dozie Nwankwo on the “need to diversify Nigeria’s economy to ensure food security in the post COVID-19 pandemic era.”
The House, while urging the executive to increase its support to the agricultural sector through the supply of improved seedlings and hybrid species to stimulate bumper harvests, tasked other sectors of the economy “to synergise efforts towards a harmonious food-for-all campaign that will engender food sufficiency and safeguard against upsurge in crime and hunger.” It encouraged Nigerians in all walks of life to get actively involved in the “food-for-all campaign” by engaging in any farming activity of their choice.