Last week, millions of Nigerians found out about the Control of Infectious Diseases bill passing the second hearing in the House of Representatives, and there has been an immediate uproar on Twitter and other social media with the hashtag #StoptheNCDCBill. Find out what the bill is about and why Nigerian citizens are unhappy with it right now!
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1. What is the NCDC Bill?
The Control of Infectious Diseases bill was sponsored by the house speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. The bill is intended to strengthen the positions of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and to give it more power to monitor and limit the spread of infectious diseases. This bill has 82 sections that concern every aspect of disease control and prevention, and is designed to replace the Quarantine Act that has been in place for many years.
Perhaps, the most important section of the bill, the one that drew the most criticism from the public, was the section referring to NCDC’s ability to administer the vaccines required to curb the spread of infections. The bill gives the Centre more power to get people vaccinated even if they don’t want to.
Another vital section of the bill concerns the penalty for Nigerians who defy the NCDC orders. According to the Quarantine Act, the maximum penalty for the defaulters is ₦500, but if the bill passes, Nigerians defying the vaccination orders will be forced to pay a penalty ranging from ₦200,000 to ₦5 million, as well as face the prospect of serving a jail sentence.
2. Why are Nigerians unhappy?
From the second Nigerian citizens found out about the bill, the rushed to social media, especially Twitter, to voice their concerns. The posters added the hashtag #StoptheNCDCBill to their tweets, and soon enough it was trending all over the country.
There are two primary reasons why Nigerians are protesting the bill and calling for it to be abolished. First, they feel like forceful vaccination and monetary penalties for defying the orders, as well as the prohibition of public meetings, are a violation of their freedom. The bill even gives the NCDC the right to search any property where a suspected disease outbreak has taken place, but without clear guidelines at hand, it’s easy to imagine the potential abuse of power that can take place.
Second, the bill was passed under suspicious circumstances. It took the NCDC bill only two hours to pass through the first and second hearing, even though it received a substantial number of opposed votes in the first hearing. Moreover, up to 50% of the Representatives, especially the ones who voted against the bill, have not even seen it, and the ones who did take a look at the bill, say that they did not have enough time to investigate the bill in full.
After the uproar on Twitter and among lawmakers, the speaker Femi Gbajabiamila apologized for the rushed process of passing the bill, but still urged the house to pass the bill in its third hearing, citing the severity of the current coronavirus outbreak as the number one reason why the bill needs to be passed urgently. After the controversial response to the bill, it was withdrawn and will now be reintroduced on another legislative day, although it’s not clear whether there will be any significant changes in the Control of Infectious Diseases bill before it is attempted to be passed once again.
Most members voted against the bill but Deputy Speaker, Rep. Ahmed Wase ruled that the bill be passed for 2nd reading. In a democracy, a bill got to 2nd reading and almost 50% of the House haven’t seen or read the bill. There is more to this unfortunate bill. #StoptheNCDCBill
So after 4 weeks that the National Assembly was unable to help the suffering masses of Nigeria with even a loaf of bread, its response is to rush a controversial bill that seeks to further take away their rights while also forcing them to take Bill Gates vaccine? #StoptheNCDCBill
My Observations on NCDC Bill: – Bill sponsored by Speaker. – Puts it to a debate. – Reps are expected to debate on a bill they never read or saw but only know the title. – Some house members push back and request for a public hearing/committee deliberations. #StoptheNCDCBill
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