Senator Anyimn Pius Anyim
Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The House of Representatives on Thursday ordered the minister of health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, and the minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to appear before its Committee on Health, or risk arrest.
The order, which was given by the speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, also extended to the secretary to the government of the federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; director general of Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogwu; and the Head of Service of the Federation.
The directive followed a feedback to the House by the committee chairman, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, on the meeting between NMA, government officials and the committee.
Elumelu had informed the House that, despite rescheduling a meeting, which was supposed to hold on Monday, but for the failure of the ministers and other stakeholders to attend, they still shunned Thursday?s meeting without any due notification.
?I have now come to the conclusion that the minister of health, whose ministry directly supervises the doctors, does not want this issue to be resolved because they have not been forthcoming on this issue.
?This shows that they are not really ready to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians to ensure that this strike is over,? he stated.
You would recall that apart from Chukwu, the other government officials had failed to honour the invitation of the committee on two occasions, which was to meet with executives of NMA to mediate on the strike action by the doctors, which has paralysed activities in government hospitals.
?The health ministry authorities should respond, not only because of the institution of the House of Representatives, but to show more concern on the issue at hand that has to do with the life of Nigerians.
?I ask that they expeditiously attend to the invitation of the committee, otherwise we may resort to other ways of compelling them to attend as enshrined in the constitution,? Tambuwal said.
Earlier, the committee on Health adjourned it?s interactive meeting sine die, after the government officials failed to show up.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has proceeded on a two-month annual recess to resume on September 16, 2014.
In a different development, the House of Representatives has urged the executive to remain resolute in the ban against same sex in the country, despite pressure from the European Union (EU).
The lawmakers were speaking against the resolution of the European Parliament of 12th March, 2014, which is aimed at starting consultations to suspend Nigeria and Uganda from the Cotonou Partnership Agreement over the passage of legislations by both countries which further criminalise homosexual activities.
Bringing the issue to the attention of the House, Hon Mukhtar Ahmed noted the support of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) parliamentary assembly for Nigeria over the position of the European parliament on the same sex marriage prohibition Act and commended their for the gesture.
The lawmakers also appreciated ?the declaration issued by the ACP Parliamentary Assembly in reaction to the said resolution of the European Parliament in which it, along others, expressed solidarity with the parliaments of Nigeria and Uganda as well as calling on the EU to appreciate the democratic choices made by these countries and to de-link cultural preferences from the need to address developmental and poverty issues?.
It will be recalled that the National Assembly enacted the Same Sex marriage Prohibition Act, 2014, which was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan. The Act provides for a penalty for 14 years imprisonment for anybody who engages same sex marriage and a penalty of 10 years imprisonment for any person witnessing same sex unions or participating in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender or inter-sex (LGBT) activities or operating bars, organisations or societies promoting same sex unions.