Nigerian Legislature to prioritize fight against HIV/AIDS

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, says the National Assembly will continue to give required attention to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.

Senator Saraki stated this when he received a delegation from the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation in Africa, led by former President of Botswana, Dr. Festus Mogae and ex-Vice President of Uganda, Dr. Speciosa Wandira, in his office, Abuja.

The group was expected to be led to the National Assembly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who however missed the trip because he was in Lusaka, Zambia, and did not get into Abuja on time to be part of the delegation.

The Senate President stated that the leadership of the National Assembly is not only concerned about the spread of HIV in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general but will continue to assist in efforts including appropriating adequate funds to agencies in the country that are devoted to tackling the pandemic.

According to Senator Saraki, “We all know the importance of the fight against HIV/AIDS. You made a point that it seems we are beginning to relax concerning the danger posed by the disease. The initiative you have taken to raise more awareness is commendable. We in the National Assembly will continue to champion advocacy and creation of awareness concerning the scourge including making necessary budgetary allocation to aid the fight.

“We did it in the case of Polio. When I was the Governor of Kwara State, we, the Governors across the country saw that there was no coordination between the Federal Government and the State governments on the efforts being made to eradicate Polio. We organized a seminar where we sat with the Bill Gates Foundation, to chart a new way forward. This resulted in the resounding success we witness presently,” he said.

The Senate President called for proper coordination and awareness in combating the menace of the deadly disease, adding that relevant government agencies and other stakeholders must come together with the commitment to drastically reduce the spread of HIV in our communities.

“I agree with you that there must be coordination and awareness. The 8th National Assembly will play its own role by placing it on the front burner. The message is that we are not out of the woods yet concerning the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Therefore, we will continue to play our role and partner with relevant stakeholders to further curb the scourge.”

Earlier, the leader of the delegation and former President of Botswana, Dr. Festus Mogae, said HIV/AIDS will continue to spread unless it is checked. He called on the three tiers of government to champion and channel more resources for advocacy towards sensitizing the people.

“AIDS is like cancer, it grows. It is only when we pay attention that we will be able to prevent it. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS requires intensive technical competence. Government should not look back in subsidizing the anti-retroviral drugs and ensuring its availability and accessibility.” Mogae said.

He also said government must continue to make adequate funds available both at the State, Federal and Local government levels to curtail the menace. Mogae emphasised the need for proper coordination between various agencies of governments if the fight against HIV/AIDS is to be sustained and meaningful results achieved.

Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act

In another development, the Senate on Thursday passed the Bill establishing the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act 2016. The development which was a repeal and re-enactment of the 2011 Act, followed the consideration of report by the Senate committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions.

The Act which is now waiting for Presidential assent is aimed at providing a window for owners of micro, small, and medium scale businesses to be revived, in case their businesses run into trouble.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Adebayo who presented the report before it was considered on the floor of the Chamber, later told Voice of Nigeria that the re-enactment of the Bill became necessary because of the need to protect small businesses and help the economy to grow.

Senator Adebayo also hinted that the Act hinges on “honesty” of the business owners, otherwise, it would not be activated to benefit such businesses.