Covid-19: Gbajabiamila Seeks Rethink on Approach to Nation-building
- Lawam promises review of relevant legislations for future emergencies
By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday said sequel to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had become imperative to rethink approach to nation-building, politics, commerce and economics in terms of engagement with the rest of the world.
Gbajabiamila stated this while delivering his remarks in Abuja, at the official unveiling and public presentation of the NILDS book titled, “a political economy of pandemics & consequences of COVID-19 for Nigeria”.
He noted that in the past year Nigerians and the rest of the world witnessed a global pandemic that had altered all lives in fundamental ways.
Gbajabiamila while commending NILDS for the vision and effort that went into producing the book, said the compendium will guide policy-making to ensure that the country is better prepared next time.
According to him, ”There will be a next time. The interconnectedness of global trade and our increased ability to traverse the world for leisure and enterprise guarantees that diseases that start in one part of the world cannot for too long be isolated there. This is our new reality, and we need to plan government in recognition of this.
”One of the benefits of having survived a global pandemic is that we are freed to decide to redesign things to better reflect our best expectations and to meet the highest ambitions we have of ourselves. We have a lot of work to do for our country. And in the months ahead, we will have to ask and answer a lot of hard questions about where we go from here. Thanks to Prof. Abubakar Suleiman and his team from the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), we have one more useful tool to guide our work and support our best efforts.”
In his goodwill message, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan assured that the National Assembly will continue to undertake a thorough review of all emergency measures (including all relevant legislations) to determine their effectiveness and prepare the government for future emergencies.
He recalled that in the health sector, the pandemic revealed some inadequacies and underscored the need for a complete overhaul to reposition the sector to better respond to this and future emergencies.
Lawan said restriction in travels and movement further hurt the already fragile economy, particularly the millions of Nigerians in the informal sector who were never prepared for the pandemic.
He said, ”In the thick of the pandemic, the National Assembly reconvened to consider and pass the revised 2020 budget and approve other financial measures of Mr. President. The National Assembly remained involved in governance processes not only in considering and approving executive proposals but more importantly in providing oversight. These and other efforts of the government are objectively assessed in this book and the analysis shows that despite numerous challenges and obstacles, the government and people of Nigeria responded to the pandemic with our characteristic resilience and resolve.
”In particular, the response of the National Assembly to the pandemic was early and swift as shown in the numerous Motions and Resolutions of the Senate and House calling government’s attention to COVID-19 and the need to take pre-emptive measures to limit the impact on the Nigerian economy and livelihoods.”
Earlier, in his remarks, the Director General, National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof. Suleiman Abubakar said that the book unlike several other piecemeal academic efforts that cover specialised aspects of the pandemic, offers a universal and panoramic as well as an exhaustive account of the multiple ways in which the pandemic has disrupted life.
His words, ”It goes further to offer wide-ranging and far-reaching recommendations on emergency preparedness, areas of reform and strategies that could be adopted by the government to mitigate the effects of this and future emergencies. More than forty (40) experts contributed chapters in the compendium. These include academics and practitioners drawn from the National Assembly, NILDS, universities, research institutes and other institutions of higher learning, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance, National Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC), human rights activists, media and representatives of civil society organisations, among others.”