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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Anti-tobacco group calls for resignation of senator

By Ben Ezeamalu

A nongovernmental organisation, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has called for the resignation of Kamorudeen Adedibu, a senator representing Oyo West Senatorial district.
The group alleged that the senator lied to his constituency and the Nigerian populace that the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) currently before the National Assembly is dead.
Mr. Adedibu, who was recently at Iseyin Oyo State, to present the keys of a tractor to a farmer as part of the Farmers’ Tractor Scheme of the British American Tobacco Iseyin Agronomy, had earlier alleged that the aim of the bill was to close down tobacco companies in the country, the group said.
‘Baseless and misleading statement’
The nongovernmental organisation, in a statement issued in Lagos, described the senator’s statement as ‘baseless and misleading’ and intended to deceive his constituency and rubbish the Senate.
“This is extremely disappointing of a senator. That Mr. Adedibu who was at the public hearing still continues to feed the public lies that the bill will close down the tobacco industry shows that he did not read the contents of the bill and therefore is not competent to comment on it,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA/FoEN’s Programme Manager.
Mr. Oluwafemi said that the senator has shown utter disregard for one of the most important life saving bills and questioned his competence.
“It is on record that even the United States government under President Obama has signed into law two bills protecting the young and vulnerable (from) the dangers of tobacco smoking in just one year of his administration. How come Mr. Adedibu is daily wishing Nigeria more deaths from tobacco smoking?” he asked.
Mr. Oluwafemi noted that the senator’s comment is an indication that Nigerians are in for another season of lies, adding that “at a time he said the jobs of 400,000 people was on line because of the bill. Now he is saying 600,000. Where is he getting these spurious figures from? Let him show Nigerians where he obtained the figures.”
Passage of bill imperative
Reiterating ERA/FoEN’s call for the National Assembly to expedite action on the NTCB, Mr. Oluwafemi maintained that the text of the bill does not in any way indicate a closure of tobacco companies, but rather, is in line with global trend which has linked declined tobacco-related deaths with strict tobacco control laws.