Former President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed that among the numerous bills he assented to while in office as president, three of them have remained very dear to his heart.
Jonathan gave the insight during his remarks as a Special Guest of Honour at the opening of a three-day Health Summit organised by the Bayelsa State Government in Yenagoa, the state capital, on Monday.
He listed the three special bills as the National Health Bill, the Freedom of Information Bill and the Nigerian Local Content Bill establishing the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.
Among dignitaries present at the event were Governor Douye Diri, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu; WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo; and Dr Osahon Enabulele, who was the keynote speaker.
The former president, however, said that among the three pieces of legislation the Local Content Law was making the most impact because it provided for a board to oversee the activities of the NCDMB.
Jonathan, a former governor of Bayelsa State, became Acting President in May 2010 following the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and was later elected president in 2011 on the platform of their party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
He was defeated in 2015 by the incumbent President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), of the then opposition All Progressives Congress.
Jonathan said, “I thank the Honourable Minister (of Health) and the (state) Commissioner for Health made reference to the National Health Bill that I signed into law in 2014. As a president, I signed so many bills into law, government bills and private bills.
“But there are three bills that till today I am quite pleased that we signed into law. The National Health Bill is one of them. The second one is the Freedom of Information Bill that affects my good media people and the third is the Nigerian Local Content Bill.
“But the Local Content Law provides a board that manages the process; they are working very well and the results are obvious. But these other two are not because there is no ombudsman kind of to oversee what is being done.
“Most cases I believe that 30 to 40 per cent of doctors practising in Nigeria will not even know the details about that (National Health) Bill. So I will request the Honourable Minister, as you go back to Abuja; luckily from what you said, you are expanding on that Act, may be developing a manual to guide practitioners.
“I think there is a need for a summit or conference that will dwell only on that Act for state actors, private actors and even those who teach in the university. Before you graduate as a doctor you should really have an idea about the law.
“And when the states are domesticating that law based on local circumstances with a clear knowledge of the law, it will help us greatly to improve on our health services.”