House of Reps moves to restrict public officials from using public funds for medical trips

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By Femi Ogunshola

A Bill for an Act seeking to sanction public officer from seeking medical help abroad with public fund has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.

The House also placed N500 million fine and seven years imprisonment for any public official who violated the Act.Rep Sergius Ogun (PDP-Edo) who sponsored the Bill, while leading the debate on the floor of the House on Wednesday in Abuja said the Bill would positively impact on the lives and wellbeing of the people.He said that the objective of the bill was to amend the principal Act so as to make provision for sanctions against any public officer who violates the provisions of the Act, especially section 46 of the Act.He said that the Act forbid that any public officer should seek medical check up abroad except on recommendation which must be approved by the Minister or commissioner of HealthHe added that the Bill has three clauses, which are: the enactment clause,

the amendment clause of the principal Act, while clause three is the citation.He said the Amendment was born out of a desire to discourage medical treatment abroad at the detriment of indigenous health institutions.He added that the need to revamp the poor state of the health care sector in Nigeria among other things, is the reason for introducing the bill.“It is no news that Nigeria’s health care system is in a deplorable state and needs urgent attention.”

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There is paucity of infrastructure, dearth of medical personnel, poor standards and many other challenges that need to be addressed.” The intent of this bill is to spur public officers to pay more attention to our health care sector and take drastic steps to develop and improve on the sector,” he stated.Rep Ibrahim Isiaka(APC-Ogun) who had earlier seconded the bill, however sought to withdraw his support, saying, ” I regret to withdraw my secondment of this Bill.

”But Rep Ahmed Wase, the Deputy Speaker of the House who presided over plenary said that once a motion was seconded, there is no opportunity to withdraw.Rep Toby  Okechukwu (PDP-Enugu) in his contribution said that the Bill was only seeking to cure some mischief, adding that it is an offence to use public money for personal gain.He added that no public officer should  incur bill for the Nigeria on health bases, stressing that the Bill was in all force patriotic and should be supportedRep. Tajudeen Yusuf  (PDP-Kogi) in his contribution said that the bill was only seeking an amendment to an existing Act.“

I want to appeal to us to look at the amendment, scaled down a y one that  is outrageous. Since an Act is existing, we must not allow a lacuna, let us look at the Bill on its merit,” he said.(NAN)

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