Governors, under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, have said they will not replace the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, from the forum’s committee set up to discuss with the members of the House of Representatives on the contentious Infectious Diseases Bill.
The House had asked the governors to remove the former speaker from the committee on the allegation that the governor of Sokoto State had a bias against the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.
The House had in a statement alleged that the governors’ demand that the bill should be suspended was informed by Tambuwal’s “personal and partisan opposition” to the emergence of the current House leadership under Gbajabiamila.
Among other contentious provisions, the bill prescribes compulsory vaccination of every child in Nigeria against some infectious diseases.
It also seeks to empower the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to take over any premises as isolation centre.
The governors, at the end of their meeting, said their Deputy Chairman, Tambuwal, briefed them about the bill after which they asked that it be suspended to enable more consultation.
In a statement issued by the spokesman for the House, Benjamin Kalu, the lawmakers vowed not to have anything to do with Tambuwal.
Kalu’s statement read, “It is rather surprising that the NGF, in arriving at its decision, relied on ‘an update from the Governor of Sokoto State,’ who, apart from being a lawyer, is a former Speaker and an ex-ranking member of the House, who should know better and guide the Forum accordingly.
“We assume that his position was informed by his well-known personal and partisan opposition to the emergence of the current leadership of the House, considering his obvious stance in 2015 and 2019.
“Unlike in a constitution amendment matter, where state Houses of Assembly have a defined constitutional role to play in effecting any review to it, bills such as the Control of Infectious Diseases are not by our Constitution subject of concurrence of state Houses of Assembly or state governors.”
However, the Chairman of the NGF, who is also the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said the issue had been resolved.
He told our correspondent on Friday that he had spoken with the Speaker on the matter and that Tambuwal would be on the committee.
“We have spoken and I can assure you that there is no need to remove the governor from the committee. He remains on the committee,” he told our correspondent on Friday.
Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila had confirmed the truce with the governors, saying he had spoken with Fayemi on the issue.
Writing on his twitter handle @femigbaja, he said the House was ready to work with the governors to “produce a bill (that will be) satisfactory to all.”