House of Representatives

*Rejects proposals by defaulting agencies

*…as Medical Research Institute raises hope for Lassa fever vaccine

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

ABUJA- House of Representatives on Monday frowned at the failure of some Ministries, Department and Agencies, MDAs to remit proper amount of their internally generated revenues based on the 25 percent stipulated by law into the federation account.

To underscore the importance of the remittances, the Committee upon resumption of its budget defence session refused to accommodate some MDAs under its supervision and oversight function who appeared before it without comprehensive evidence of payment into the government coffers.

To this end, the Medical Science Laboratory Council of Nigeria, Radiographers Registration Council of Nigeria, the Nigeria Pharmaceutical Research Institute (NIPRI) and the Community Health Practitioners Registration Board were turned back just as the Dental and Medical Council of Nigeria was asked to return on Friday 5 November.

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However, approval was given to the budget proposals of Nursing and Midwifery Registration Council, as well as the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research Yaba, Lagos.

Speaking at the session, the chairman, House committee on Healthcare Services,  Rep. Yusuf Tanko Sununu, (APC, Kebbi) showed his dissatisfaction with the situation.

He said it was compulsory for MDAs to make proper remittances to the government purse to aid economic growth and development.

He said: “Let’s also try to emphasize that revenues generated by MDAs are supposed to be remitted to the Federal government  in their right percentage.

“With that the amount of revenue needed to finance the budget every year will be dramatically reduced. That is if all revenue generating MDAs remit what’s due to government in all honesty and truth and as and when due.

“So this committee will do its due diligence in looking at the revenues of agencies under our purview and ensure that the right amount is remitted before consideration for their 2021 budget proposals.”

In his defence, the Registrar and chief executive officer of Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria disclosed that the council’s IGR was used to offset the running cost.

He however said that the council recorded two major feats this year.

According to him, the two feats are the validation of covid-19 kits in Nigeria and the calibration of equipment pit.

He said: “The sum of N136m was generated so far this year but we are unable to remit the 25 percent as laid down by the rules due to covid-19 which led to putting on hold our inspection and accreditation of training courses from where more money comes in.

“Our major achievements for 2020 include calibration of equipment pit and the validation of Covid-19 kits in Nigeria without which we would he been having substandard kits.”

But despite the Covid-19 pandemic challenge, the committee chairman noted that the agency should still have generated more revenue beyond.

He directed the council registrar to furnish the Committee’s deputy Chairman with more details by Friday this week.

“Apart from inspection and accreditation, weren’t there any other services to private organisations that generated funds?”

“Because you are an agency that’s really short of N20m remittance to the Federal government,” he said,  just as he ruled that “the registrar liaise with the deputy  chairman on Friday by providing evidence of remittances to the Federal Government”, Sununu said.

In his own presentation, the Director-General, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research Babatunde Lawal Seheed gave hints that the country will soon develop a vaccine for Lassa fever.

He said that they were jolted by the Covid-19 pandemic into making further research on the disease even as he reported that the Madagascar vaccine for coronavirus was efficacious.

“We tried the Madagascar vaccine. We found the product safe. But we haven’t taken it forward. The report has been sent to the Hon. Minister.

“On lassa fever vaccine, I would say that the nature of Covid-19 kind of geared everybody to try to do something.

We started testing for Covid-19 in Nigeria before the first case came. We are using the sense to tackle laser fever.

“We used to think that vaccine production was a tall order. We are 40 percent gone to vaccine. In the next months, we will have something to show for testing. So also Covid-19 vaccine”, he said.


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