The Coalition of United Political Parties has alleged that lawmakers in the House of Representatives were offered $10 million for the speedy passage of the Vaccination Bill by the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.
CUPP in a statement issued late on Monday said it was in possession of intelligence report that the leadership of House is determined to pass the compulsory vaccine bill without subjecting it to the traditions of legislative proceedings.
In a statement signed by the spokesman of the group, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, CUPP implored the lawmakers in the lower chamber to rise against impunity, adding that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, should be impeached if he forces the bill on members.
CUPP said: “Opposition Coalition (CUPP) has intercepted very credible intelligence and hereby alerts Nigerians of plans by the leadership of the House of Representatives led by Femi Gbajabiamila to forcefully and without adherence to the rules of lawmaking to pass the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 otherwise known as the Compulsory Vaccination Bill which is proposing a compulsory vaccination of all Nigerians even when the vaccines have not been discovered.
“This intelligence is coupled with the information of the alleged receipt, from sources outside the country but very interested in the Bill, of the sum of $10 million by the sponsors and promoters of the Bill to distribute among lawmakers to ensure a smooth passage of the Bill.
“This will manifest in a wishy-washy public hearing which the promoters still insist on cancelling under the pretext of containment of the spread of the coronavirus. The intelligence is that the House will under whatever guise pass the Bill tomorrow 5th May, 2020 upon resumption.
“The Nigeria opposition rejects the Bill and urges opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives to confront the Speaker of the House with these facts tomorrow at plenary and resist every plan to illegally pass the Bill.
“We have been informed that the alleged deal on the passage of the Bill was struck during a trip to Austria a few months back while the financial support for the promotion of the Bill was allegedly received last week to mobilize for a push leading to the hurried attempt to pass the Bill by any means necessary.
“Nigerians are reminded that at present, there is no discovered/approved vaccine anywhere in the world and one now begins to wonder why the hurry to pass a Bill for a compulsory vaccine when there is none.
“What if the world eventually does not find a vaccine or cure for coronavirus just like it has not found a cure for HIV AIDS? What is the hurry in passing a Bill based on speculation or is there anything else the leadership of the House would want to tell Nigerians? Is this bill what will stop the mass deaths and infections rising in Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Gombe, Borno, Kaduna, Ogun, Bauchi and indeed all over the country?
“Is this Bill going to revive and grow the economy and reduce hunger and give us more testing kits or bed spaces? Is this Bill going to stop the stealing of palliatives meant for poor and vulnerable Nigerians? Is it true that all these noises for the Bill is all for the alleged $10 million?
“The leadership of the House needs to start speaking now on why the hurry when there are a lot of urgent Bills to be passed which are not being attended to.
“Where is the Bill to make the wearing of face masks compulsory now that the Federal Government has against all wisdom insisted on easing the lockdown and the people have trooped out already without obeying the health regulations that will make them safe?
“Where are the economic revival Bills to protect jobs and vulnerable Nigerian workers whose livelihoods are threatened daily by this pandemic? Where are the Bills to compel the Federal Government to look inwards and encourage emergency research for the manufacture of essentials like test kits, ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment, vaccines, drugs, masks, sanitizers etc
“All opposition lawmakers should prove they are not part of the evil or partakers of the financial inducement and confront Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to come clean.
“Let all parliamentary rules be dropped and opposition members should turn the House upside down using their parliamentary privileges if that is what it takes to stop this foreign-sponsored Bill.
“Why make a law for a vaccine that has not been discovered? Does it mean that Femi Gbajabiamila and the promoters have an idea of the vaccine and when it will be ready? When nations like Madagascar are making local remedies which is working, APC is making a law to compulsorily inject Nigerians with vaccines our former slave masters have not yet discovered.
“The plan to push the passing of the bill is evil
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC did not make any contributions to the drafting of the Bill and has even told Femi Gbajabiamila to suspend the Bill as the timing is very wrong but Mr. Gbajabiamila believes he can secure the silence and acquiescence of the NCDC with all the illegal powers been provided for the NCDC in the Bill hence he still wants to push ahead with it the passage.
“Like we told the Federal Government before, do not bring Chinese doctors, shut our external borders, do not ease the lockdown, do not relax Kano lockdown and they refused to heed to wise counsel preferring to play myopic politics with the lives of Nigerians, today the community transmission is getting worse and it has almost been confirmed that the so called strange deaths in Kano of hundreds of citizens is a result of the COVID-19.
“We are saying loudly again and calling on House of Representatives to suspend this Control of Infectious Diseases Bill and await for proper input and scrutiny after the pandemic and charge all efforts towards giving the needed support to reduce the spread and find a homegrown solution.”
But speaking on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila said the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill was conceived in the best interest of the Nigerian people and no one else.
The Speaker said the allegation that the Bill is a sinister attempt to turn Nigerians into guinea pigs for medical research while taking away their fundamental human rights was far from the truth.
He said the House will subject the Bill to a public hearing where Nigerians from all walks of life would be given the opportunity to contribute to the draft law.
Addressing his colleagues at the resumption of plenary session on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila said since the introduction of the Bill a week ago, there has been a barrage of criticisms against it, with allegations of sinister motives.
However, the Speaker said as representatives of the Nigerian people, members of the House would never contemplate doing anything that would jeopardize the wellbeing of the citizens.
He said: “Suffice it to say that none of these allegations are true.
“Unfortunately, we now live in a time when conspiracy theories have gained such currency that genuine endeavours in the public interest can quickly become mischaracterised and misconstrued to raise the spectre of sinister intent and ominous possibility.
“This House of Representatives will never take any action that purposes to bring harm to any Nigerian here at home or abroad.
“As we have thus far shown by our conduct, the resolutions and actions we take in this 9th House of Representatives will always be in the best interests of the Nigerian people who elected us, and no one else.
“In the recent uproar, certain fundamental truths have been lost and are worth remembering.
“Our current framework for the prevention and management of infectious diseases is obsolete and no longer fit for purpose.
“The current law severely constrains the ability of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to take proactive action to prevent the entry into Nigeria of infectious diseases and the management of public health emergencies when they occur.
“Even now, the government remains vulnerable to claims that some directives already being implemented to manage the present crisis do not have the backing of the law and therefore cannot withstand judicial scrutiny.
“I disagree wholeheartedly with the suggestion that this is not the ideal time to seek reforms of the infectious diseases and public health emergency framework in the country.
“The weaknesses of the present system have already manifested in the inability of the government to hold to proper account those whose refusal to adhere with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control guidelines led to the further spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria.
“We have had people break out from isolation centres, and others, who, fully aware of their status, chose to travel across state lines on public transport.”
Gbajabiamila said as the number of those currently infected by the coronavirus continues to rise alongside the number of those who have died, there is no timeline for when the disease will pass “and nobody can predict when the next public health crisis will occur, just as nobody predicted the present predicament”.
He added: “It bears restating that we do not have in our country a healthcare system or for that matter a national economy that is sufficiently robust to withstand the dire consequences of a sustained infectious disease pandemic.
“We cannot tie our own hands in the fight against this disease.
“Whether we choose to accept it or not, the world we live in has changed irretrievably.
“There is no ‘normal’ to return to as this present crisis has laid bare the fundamental weaknesses in our systems of law and policy and left our nation at risk of devastating outcomes on all sides.
“Our current task is first to survive and then to set about building a new world.
“Inevitably, this demands that we should be willing to consider new ideas, explore novel possibilities, rejecting those ancient shibboleths we have long adhered to without benefit.”
The Speaker added that citizens may sometimes disagree with the how and the why of policy proposals, but the parliament of the people is not an echo chamber.
Gbajabiamila said: “It is a marketplace of ideas where only those proposals that gain currency with the majority should carry the day.
“However, our disagreements must be grounded in a shared recognition that our present travails demand urgent interventions.
“And we must not allow ourselves to become victims of the cynical assumption that every policy proposal or response is a result of personal inducement or a grand conspiracy to bring harm to the people on whose behalf we hold political office.
“The Control of Infectious Diseases Bill will be put forward to a public hearing where stakeholder contributions will be sought to make improvements to the Bill before it is reviewed and debated by the Committee of the whole.
“It is from the accumulation of these myriad views, suggestions and good faith critiques from within and outside the House that we will arrive at final legislation that meets the present and future needs of our country, and which we all can support in good conscience.”
The Speaker added that the social distancing guidelines that the House and the whole country operate for the time being would not allow for a usual format of public hearing, but “if a socially distant public hearing becomes workable, we will certainly explore that option.
“Nonetheless, the House will provide alternative platforms for all Nigerians who desire to send in written documents that articulate their concerns, make recommendations on amendments and perhaps present other formulations for a new framework for managing infectious diseases in Nigeria.
“All the contributions we receive will be considered and aggregated to improve the proposed legislation.”