From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has assented to two bills passed into law by the House of Assembly to enhance access to quality healthcare and enable government fulfil contractual obligations.
The bills signed into law by the governor included: Public Procurement (amendment) Law No.1 of 2021 and Contributory Health Protection Programme Law No.3 of 2020.
Governor Wike, who signed the bills into law at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, said with the signing of the Contributory Health Protection Programme Bill into law, residents and people of the state who want health insurance can now participate in the scheme.
He said: “Let me, on behalf of the executive council, sincerely thank the speaker and members of the Assembly for passing into law Public Procurement (amendment) Law and Contributory Health Protection Programme Law, particularly the second one that has to do with health.
“This is something that has become a reality today. We have had a lot of pressure from people and also Nigeria Medical Association to give health insurance to those who would want to participate. It is not compulsory for those who want to leverage on it in order to promote their health system.”
The governor urged civil servants to leverage on contributory health protection programme to boost their health status.
Governor Wike said the Public Procurement (amendment) Law, will enable the government fulfil its contractual obligations.
He attributed the reason contractors often ask for contract variation to low percentage of the project sum they receive from government.
According to the governor, this also results to delays in fulfilment of contractual obligations.
“Government ought to allot pay penalty, because under the law, if a contractor is not paid as at when due, there ought to be sanction against the government.”
The governor said the need for the state government to expedite and fulfil its contractual obligations, necessitated the amendment of the Public Procurement Law.
Speaker Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani said the two bills were critical elements in developing society.
He said with the signing of the health protection law, it is now incumbent on the Ministry of Health and health providers to engage in intense campaign so that residents could avail themselves of the benefits of the scheme.
The speaker said the huge investment made by Governor Wike in both primary and tertiary healthcare was geared at providing universal health coverage for the entire population.
Speaking on the Public Procurement Law, the speaker said the Assembly saw the lapses in the last law, and decided to amend it, given that the exigencies of today are different from the exigencies of yesteryears.