The National Assembly on Tuesday said it would pass the 2020 Appropriation Bill on November 28, 2019.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, made this known when he addressed journalists after the budget presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari. He stated that the lawmakers had the desire to reverse the budget calendar to January-December.
Kalu said, “We are committed to realising this switch from what it used to be to what it ought to be – January-December budget calendar. Luckily enough, the House has inaugurated all the standing committees. The House, in order, to achieve this objective of reversing the calendar will be suspending the plenary – not suspending the House – to enable us to go into our various committees to interact with the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies. To achieve that, we have set up a road map.”
The House’ spokesman said while the appropriation bill was presented on Tuesday, the House would debate the general principles of the budget on Wednesday and Thursday, after which it would be passed for second reading and referred to the standing committees, also known as Sub-Committees on Appropriations.
Kalu also said the House would adjourn plenary on Thursday till October 30, 2019, to allow the committees to hold budget defence sessions with Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies.
He added that the leadership of the House would meet with the leaders of the standing committees at 7pm on Thursday to discuss the road map for timely passage of the budget.
The lawmakers also said the National Assembly would hold a public hearing on the budget between October 21 and 22, 2019.
Kalu said, “From Wednesday, the 30th of October to Tuesday, the 5th of November, 2019, we are going to have submission and defence of budget reports to the Committee on Appropriations. It is important to note here that the termination date for submission of budget and defence of the same budget will be on the 5th of November. After the 5th of November, we will not accept any submission or defence by any MDA.
“From Wednesday, the 6th of November to the 27th of November, 2019, we are going to have the collation and harmonisation of reports by the Appropriations Committee. It is our expectation – and we are working towards that with this road map we have set – that on the 28th of November, 2019, we will have the presentation of the report by the Committees on Appropriations to the Senate and the House. What it means is that our expectation is that we want to be done with this exercise on the 28 th of November, 2019. We will be done with the budget.
“Our idea is that from the beginning of December 2019, the budget is ready. You are aware that if we are able to achieve this by the first week of December or the last week of November, we will be on time to make sure that from January 2020, we will kick-start with our new budget of 2020. It is a great achievement.”
Just In: Court Sentences Funke Akindele, Husband to 14-Days Community Service, N100,000 Fine Each
The Chief Magistrate Court 1 Ogba has sentenced actress Funke Akindele and her husband, Abdulrasheed Bello aka JJC Skillz, for defying the social distancing order of the Lagos state government.
The court in its ruling ordered the couple to pay a fine of N100,000 each and also sentenced them to 14 days community service, three hours per day, excluding Saturday and Sunday.
The couple must also visit 10 important public places within Lagos State to educate the public on the consequences of non compliance with the restriction order and must submit the names and phone numbers of every person who attended their house party.
Furthermore, the court ordered that they shall be placed on isolation by the State Government to determine their COVID-19 status. Failure to abide by the above directives shall attract more severe punishments.
The charge sheet filed against them read:
”On 04/04/2020, the two accused persons held a party at their residents with over twenty persons in attendance contrary to the social distancing directives made in pursuant to Regulation 8(1)(a) and (b) & 17(1)(i) of the Lagos State Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 and therefore committed an offence under Section 58 of the Public Health Law Cap P16 Vol. 9, Laws of Lagos State 2015.”
NCDC Denies Funke Akindele As Brand Ambassador
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has denied claims that Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele, is its brand ambassador.
This is coming on the heels of Akindele’s arrest for violating the government-ordered lockdown and ban on large gatherings after she hosted a celebrity-studded house party in honour of her husband, JJC Skills, on Saturday.
Though the actress on Sunday apologised for the action, she was arrested at her residence in Amen Estate off the Lekki-Epe Expressway and taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba.
The police have also summoned her husband and Naira Marley who were at the party.
Until her arrest, the actress had been the ‘face’ of the DettolNigeria/NCDC campaigns for personal hygiene and social distancing sensitisation against the pandemic.
In reaction, the NCDC said on its verified Twitter account on Sunday that the agency had no connection with the actress as a ‘brand ambassador’.
“As an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, NCDC has not engaged brand ambassadors as part of our response to COVID-19. We continue to emphasise that all Nigerians maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID,” it wrote
Meanwhile, DettolNigeria, which contracted Funkẹ as their brand ambassador, has condemned the actress’ misconduct.
“We have been made aware through social media that Funke Akindele recently, acting in her personal capacity, had a celebration which is against the caution to the public on social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.
“The NCDC partnered with Dettol on a public service message to educate our communities about preventive measures against COVID-19. Funke is not a brand ambassador of the NCDC.
The company frowned at the breach of order regarding COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a responsible organisation and brand, Dettol does not condone any breach of the guidelines on COVID-19.”
The company did not, however, state if it would take any action on its partnership with the actress.
The Lagos Infection Diseases Regulations 2020 (the Regulations) prescribes a jail term of one month or N100,000 fine or both for persons found guilty of hosting gatherings or flouting the lockdown order.
“Where there is a violation of a close down or stay at home order, security agencies shall have power to arrest without warrant and may detain any person who violates the close down or stay at home order for at least forty-eight (48) hours.
“Where the arrested person is found guilty, the person is liable to a fine of one Hundred Thousand Nara fine (N100,000.00) or one (1) month imprisonment or three (3) months Community service,” it reads in part.
Doctors Reject FG’s Plan to Invite Chinese Medical Team
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has rejected the Federal Government’s proposed invitation of an 18-man Chinese medical team to support the country’s fight against Coronavirus.
The President, Francis Faduyile, in a statement Sunday said the move is a misplaced priority. He described it as “a thing of embarrassment to the membership of the Association and other health workers who are giving their best in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic under deplorable working conditions.”
The plan of inviting an 18-member team of Chinese medical experts to Nigeria has been criticised since it was announced Friday by health minister, Osagie Ehanire.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) had advised the federal government against the plan, saying it was unnecessary to invite Chinese doctors as Nigeria was already handling the crisis effectively.
But the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Garba Abari, further clarified the reasons behind the proposed visit on Saturday.
He said the Chinese medical team were only coming to share experiences with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and not to directly take charge of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
According to him, they will be sharing experiences on how the pandemic was handled in China and giving expert suggestions to our medical teams.
“Whatever information the Chinese medical team makes available to NCDC will be filtered and applied to address the peculiar challenges of the country on handling the COVID-19 scourge.
“This is a global pandemic and from wherever assistance comes, you cannot reject it”, the official noted.
The clarification, however, did not stop Nigerian doctors from opposing the plan.
Rejecting the invitation, the NMA president said the government in arriving at the decision, did not take into consideration the extant laws regulating the practice of medicine in Nigeria as enshrined in the Medical and Dental Council Act.
“This is one such circumstance where the Medical and Dental Council of Nigerian should be consulted to grant necessary approvals to foreigners to interact with Nigerian patients”, Mr Faduyile explained.
He also said the association of Nigerian doctors was subjected to the “ignominy of not being carried along in arriving at such a decision”.
Read the Full Statement Below
(1) The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) received the news of the intention of the Federal Government of Nigeria to invite Chinese doctors into the country at this time of a global pandemic with great dismay and utter disappointment.
(2) It is a thing of embarrassment to the membership of the Association and other health workers who are giving their best in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic under deplorable working conditions, and a fragile health system to be subjected to the ignominy of not being carried along in arriving at such a decision.
(3) The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), grossly inadequate test kits and test centres across the country, and the absolute lack of any form of insurance for the workforce are primordial issues begging for attention at this time.
(4) We are therefore profoundly dismayed to learn that the Federal Government is instead inviting the Chinese who from available accounts are not out of the woods themselves. The spike in cases and the death toll from COVID -19 in Italy coincided with the arrival of the Chinese in the guise of offering assistance. Even the United Nations has only just recently commended the efforts of Nigeria so far.
(5) The Association notes with grave concern that the Government did not take into consideration the extant laws regulating the practice of medicine in Nigeria as enshrined in the Medical and Dental Council Act. This is one such circumstance where the Medical and Dental Council of Nigerian should be consulted to grant necessary approvals to foreigners to interact with Nigerian patients.
(6) The Association appreciates the commendable work done by doctors and health workers at the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the various isolation centres across the country. It expects the Government to show appreciation by channelling the available resources and donations to improving testing facilities to detect more cases and ramp up capacity to train more workers.
(7) The Association is aware of a large pool of General Medical and Specialist Practitioners who are either unemployed or underemployed that can be engaged instead of bringing foreigners who aside from national security concerns may not be conversant with our culture, terrain and peculiar challenges.
(8) The Association believes that this invitation is ill-timed and of no overbearing significance considering that whatever experiences the Chinese have can be shared by digital technology through conferencing bearing in mind that Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu has only just returned from China. We are not averse to the donation of equipment and supplies because we can always do with such support as even the developed countries receive support.
(10) The Government should declare a state of emergency in the Health sector and use the opportunity to fix our health institutions as a matter of urgency in a bid to stem the rot.
(11) The NMA urges the Government to expand the Presidential Task Force to include other critical stakeholders including journalists and the civil society to ensure more robust engagement especially as the decisions of the task force has implications for the health, wealth and security of our country.
(12) It is a great disservice to the morale of the long-suffering frontline health workforce if the Government goes ahead to invite these Chinese doctors. The invitation demeans their sacrifices so far in this pandemic. We fail to see how the 18 man team would impact the current efforts in any significant way.
(13) The Association, however, expects that the Government would rescind the decision in the overall interest of the country.
(14) The NMA would loathe reviewing her participation in the fight against COVID-19 considering the grave implications and the risk to the lives of her members should the Government go ahead with this ill-thought-out invitation at this time.
(15) The Association remains committed to the Nigerian people and the Government. We support the efforts of our frontline health workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and we expect reciprocal trust from the Government.
Signed: Dr. Francis A. Faduyile