The leadership of the House of Representatives on Wednesday unveiled plans to engage President Goodluck Jonathan on the need to assent to pending bills passed by the National Assembly.
The unsigned bills have over the past four months caused sour relations between the executive and the legislature. The lawmakers have threatened to invoke relevant sections of the constitution to veto the president on resumption.
Some of the bills not assented to are National Assembly Service Bill 2011; Harmonised Retirement Age of Professors of Tertiary Institutions Bill, 2011; Chartered Institute of Capital Registrars Bill 2011; Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Nigeria Bill 2001; Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology Bill, 2011; Personal Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2011; Discrimination against Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (Prohibition) Act 2011; National Bio-safety Management Agency Bill 2011; National Agriculture Seed Council Bill 2011; Federal Capital Territory Appropriation Bill 2011; State of the Nation Address Bill 2011.
Others include River Basins Development Authorities (Amendment) Bill 2011; Nigerian Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (Establishment) Bill 2011; Federal Capital Territory Water Board Bill, 2011; Air Force Institute of Technology of Nigeria Bill 2011 and National Tobacco (Control) Bill 2011.
Emeka Ihedioha, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, gave the assurance while addressing the executives of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology led by John Onuorah. They solicited the intervention of the House on the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology Bill 2011 passed on June 1, 2011.
Ihedioha, who allayed fears over the annulment of the bills passed by the National Assembly, said “the National Assembly has done its responsibility. We are on recess, so when we reconvene we will find out the status of this bill and take it from there.
“Obviously, the import of the Nigerian Council of Food and Technology bill cannot be over emphasised and as our elders have enumerated, the necessity for this bill to become law is obviously to address some of our challenges today in the country, particularly wealth creation and job creation which is very key and fundamental to our national stability.”
“We will look at it and I’m sure when we look at it, we will get back to you and if there is any other lobby that we need, we would do it, we want to engage the executive appropriately to ensure that if there are any misunderstanding with regards to the status of this bill, we will try and provide the necessary explanation by facilitating it.”
Speaking earlier, Onuorah explained that the executive bill when signed into law would regulate the training and practice of the profession of food science and technology.
He noted that the bill enjoyed overwhelming support during the debate on the floor of the House and Senate as well as various stakeholders from NAFDAC, SON, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Association of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria (IPAN), the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), many universities and polytechnics, the National Planning Commission, among others, during the public hearing.
He said, “It is important for the president to give assent to this executive bill for the following reasons: the issues of food safety and food security have become too complex and complicated for the untrained and therefore require professional skills for proper management.”
Apart from classical issues of food hygiene and sanitation, there is the increasing global concern on the impact of additives, veterinary drug residues, pesticides and other agrochemicals, microbial mutations and radiation contamination on food safety. There are frequent national and global alerts on threats to the food supply chain to the extent that several deaths are recorded periodically on account of accidental and/or deliberate contamination of food. Therefore, we require well trained food professionals to mitigate these problems.
“There is need to properly regulate the practice of the profession that deals with the post-harvest issues of food in the same manner as the practice of pharmacy is regulated for drugs. In this way, an agency like NAFDAC that uses professional pharmacists to regulate drug products will also use professional food scientists and technologists to regulate food products.”