By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives yesterday summoned the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, his counterpart in health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and the former Principal of Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, to appear before its Committee on Health to explain what they knew about the death of three students of the college over the outbreak of epidemic in the school.
The House also condemned the alleged impunity by government officials and lackadaisical attitude towards the welfare of Nigerians, especially students and directed the officers involved to submit their respective reports to it within two weeks.
Besides, the lawmakers directed the Federal Ministry of Health to work with the school management to resolve the epidemic issues in the school and also to ensure that adequate medical attention was made available to save the lives of the students now hospitalized in various hospitals in the country.
The House, in its resolution on a motion of urgent importance sponsored by the Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, further directed the Minister of Health to take all necessary steps toprevent future occurrences and also bring any personnel, if necessary, to book if any act of negligence was established.
Gbajabiamila had in the motion, informed the House that due to the outbreak of epidemic, it was reported in the media that about 1,222 students were affected, while three died.
He said: “The reports attributed the outbreak of the epidemic to contamination of the water sources in the school with various pathogens, and general unhygienic environment, and that the deaths of the students, namely: Vivian Osunniyi, Bithia Itulua and now Praise Sodipo are traceable to their exposure to the unhealthy and unhygienic environment of the school.
“The health crisis in the school has been in the news since the school resumed from the Christmas and New Year holiday in January 2017, and despite this obvious health crisis, the management of the school failed to take appropriate steps to safeguard the students. Instead, they concealed the facts, claiming there was no outbreak of epidemic or death recorded in the school.
“The case of Praise Sodipo, one of the students who had been in the intensive care unit until she died on March 31, 2017, is even more pathetic as an orphan and the only child of her late parents, meaning that her family lineage had suddenly seized to exist
“The current situation in Queens College calls for a state of public health emergency in the Institution as young lives and future leaders have been lost carelessly, with many more endangered, leaving parents in tears and sorrow.’’
He said the sacred duty of looking after children in a learning environment had been compromised, with regard to the admission of negligence by the Ministry of Education, stakeholders, particularly the Federal Government.
In his contribution, the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, said the country had never, in the last 16 years, faced this kind of embarrassment it was now confronted with.