Fred Itua, Abuja
A week after the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, sponsored a legislation entitled ‘National Health Emergency Bill’, the Senate has commenced work on the controverisal bill.
The Senate Bill is sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu-North). He is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Disease.
The Bill which passed first reading on the floor of the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday was immediately opposed by a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu-West).
Ekweremadu, referencing Order 41 of the Senate Standing Rule, said the Bill is already generating controversies in the House of Representatives. He insisted that as a senator, he has the privilege of going through the Bill before it passes second reading.
“I rely on Order 41 of the Senate Standing Rule. As a senator, I am entitled to know the details of this Bill. We want to have copies of the gazetted copies. There is controversy over the same Bill in the House of Representatives.
“We don’t want to have the same issue here. We need to be guided to avoid any backlash. I need to read it and prepare ahead of time,” the former deputy senate president said.
Responding, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan, presiding, said copies will be given to members. He added that the second reading will be taken next week, while senators go through it.
“The copies are ready and everybody will get a copy. We are not taking the second reading immediately. That will be done next week. So members will have the time to read the contents of the Bill.”