Member representing Esan North-East/Esan South-East Federal Constituency of Edo State in the House of Representatives, Hon.Sergius Oseasochie Ogun has revealed how fellow lawmakers frustrated the National Health Act amendment bill to regulate international trips for medical treatment by public officials. Ironically, the bill which earned the lawmaker encomiums and commendations from all the did not see the light of the day as it was killed by some influential members of the 8th session of the lower chamber of the national assembly who cited bogus and nebulous reasons to justify their anti-people action.
To underscore his rock steady determination and iron cast resolve to push the bill through, Rt Hon. Ogun resubmitted the bill to the 9th session of the House of Representatives for reconsideration. Again, those who seem not to be comfortable with the contents of the National Health Act amendment bill have taken up arms to kill the bill for the second time by deploying delay tactics which include but not limited to the deliberate and devious omission of the bill from the weekly order paper inspite of the several attempts made by the sponsor to have it retaken.
Hon. Ogun who made these revelations on a live program on TVC appealed to the media, civil society organisations, human rights activists, legal gurus and others to prevail on the leadership of the House of Representatives to reconsider and pass the bill in the greater interest of all Nigerians. In a country where the ordinary man lives on less than one US dollar per day, Nigeria can no longer afford the luxury of footing the bills of her public officials who embark on expensive medical vacation abroad at the slightest opportunity at the detriment of the nation’s ailing and decaying health system which is begging for urgent attention.
Rt Hon. Ogun further revealed that there was already an act which restrains public officials from spending public funds on medical voyage abroad. Thus the proposed amendment bill merely seeks to strengthen and give veneer to the existing act. To lend credence to his claim, he quoted section 46 of the National Health Act which provides that:
“Without prejudice to the right of any Nigerian to seek medical check-up, investigation or treatment anywhere within and outside Nigeria, no public officer of the government of the Federation or any part thereof shall be sponsored for medical check-up, investigation or treatment abroad at public expense except in exceptional cases on the recommendation and referral by the medical board and which recommendation and referral shall be duly approved by the Minister or the Commissioner of health of the state as the case may be.”
In view of the above, it is evidently clear that public officials who have had cause to travel abroad for medical reasons at public expense might have made mincemeat of the above constitutional provision. Consequently, Rt Hon. Ogun called on civil society organisations, organized labour, media, students, social media influencers etc to make a strong demand for the quick reconsideration and passage of the National Health Act amendment bill.
On his part, Rt Hon. Ogun vowed to press on and never to back down until the bill is reconsidered and passed by the house.