The Deputy Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, has stressed the need for presidential and governorship candidates to make their medical records public before their election into office.
Murray-Bruce, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, argued that such arrangement was being practised in the United States, from where Nigeria borrowed its democracy.
The senator said although there was no existing law that made the publication compulsory, such candidates had the moral duty to make their health condition known to the electorate.
He said, “It is not just about medical fitness, we are looking at a bill to make sure that all candidates publish their medical records and let the nation know (the level of) their medical fitness. In America, you will publish your medical records. Your doctor will tell the people if you have any illnesses that could impair your ability to work at any level.”
But members of the House of Representatives expressed opposing views on whether it is appropriate to compel persons seeking political offices to disclose their health status by law.
The Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Mr. Kayode Oladele, said making the health status of presidential and governorship candidates public would amount to an invasion of their privacy.
Besides, Oladele, a lawyer, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the nation’s constitution already made adequate provisions for how the failing health of an office holder could be addressed.
He said, “People have their right to privacy. The fact that they want to contest election does not mean that they should make their health status a public issue. It will be an infringement on their right to privacy.
“The constitution has already addressed it by making provisions for anyone in office who has become incapacitated on the grounds of ill-health or infirmity, to give way.
“There is nowhere in the world that you are required to disclose your health status as a pre-condition for contesting an election.
“The international best practice is that there is right to privacy.”
However, the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Mr. Razak Atunwa, told SUNDAY PUNCH that disclosure was necessary as a “matter of morality.”
Atunwa, who is also a lawyer, noted that legislating on the issue might appear draconian, but added that it was still necessary to disclose the health information of public office holders.
He said a time would come when the electorate would, on their own, begin to demand that the health status of office seekers be made public.