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Lawan berates ministers for refusing to attend public hearing by Senate

THE Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has said lack of due diligence by ministers and ministry officials is the reason they (ministers and civil servants) wrongly advise President Buhari not to assenting to some National Assembly bills.

Lawan said this today following the absence of some ministers and their representatives at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Health to deliberate on three bills.

The proposed pieces of legislation are the National University of Health and Medical Sciences, Suleja, Niger State (Establishment) Bill 2021, sponsored by Senator Sani Musa, and the Federal University of Medical Sciences Abeokuta, Ogun State (Establishment) Bill 2021, sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

The third is a bill for an Act to amend the Orthopedic Hospital Management Board Act No. 21 of 1979 to provide for the establishment of the Federal Orthopedic Hospital, Kuta (Niger State), Bill 2021, also sponsored by Senator Musa.

Lawan had before declaring the session open sought to know if the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunmibe Mamora, or their representatives, were present at the event.

He described the absence of the two ministers with no officials of the ministry standing in for them as “an anomaly”.

Lawan explained that the development was responsible for situations where bills passed by the National Assembly were denied assent by Buhari, adding that the President sometimes acted on wrong advice from ministry officials.

The Senate President said, “I have a written speech for this event, but before then, where is the Minister of Health or Minister of State Health? Or is there anyone representing the Ministry of Health?

“This is an anomaly and we don’t take it kindly because sometimes, the National Assembly will process a bill and the bill will be taken to Mr. President for assent and somebody will just go round and mis-advise that that the bill should not be assented to.

“This is done mostly by ministry officials. So, it is always in the interest of government and good governance that when there is a public hearing – the ministry, government officials, the technical people – should be around to hear the views of the people.

“If they have any objection, they should say so in the presence of everyone, so that they listen to arguments.

“Therefore, it is sad that neither the minister, nor the minister of state, or anyone from the Federal Ministry of Health is here to attend this particular public hearing and I think it is sad. And nothing should happen to our bills.”

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