By Ismaila Chafe, Oluwatope Lawanson
Abuja, Sept. 6, 2019
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met behind closed doors with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking to State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, Gbajabiamila said he was in the Villa to discuss national issues requiring the attention of both the legislature and the executive with the President.
The Speaker said the National Assembly was on the same page with the President and the government regarding the Xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens in South Africa.
“I came to fully discuss that with Mr. President and other national issues that require the attention of both the legislature and the executive, and we had very fruitful discussions on those issues.
“As of now, Mr. President has taken proactive steps in evacuating our citizens. We have issued a statement today that is in tandem with what the executive is doing and we stand by our citizens.
“Our priority is to protect the welfare of our citizens and that is exactly what we are doing and that is what the President is doing,’’ he said.
Gbajabiamila also revealed that they deliberated on the issue of budget circle as well as the $9.6 billion dollars London judgment debt.
He expressed the hope that the executive arm would submit the 2020 appropriation bill to the National Assembly before the end of September, 2019.
“We discussed the issue of the budget, as you are aware we want to bring the budget circle back to what it used to be – January to December, and the only way to do that is for an early presentation of the budget and we have discussed that.
“I know the budget is going to come as early as possible. It maybe the end of this month or shortly thereafter, but I cannot give you a definite date.
“But it’s going to be an early presentation so that we can pass the budget before the end of the year and return to the January to December circle.
“We discussed security issues and the issue of the recent $9 billion award against Nigeria. I say that with a smile but not really smiling.
”Clearly we are in opposition to that and steps will be taken,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, a Lagos State lawmaker, Mr Tunde Braimoh, on Friday said all agents of civilisation should condemn xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African countries in South Africa.
Braimoh, representing Kosofe Constituency II in the state House of Assembly, also called on the Federal Government to ensure that Nigerian victims dead or alive would be adequately compensated.
The legislator made the call while speaking to newsmen in Lagos.
Braimoh also said that regional and world bodies especially African Union and United Nations should rise against any form of racism.
He described the xenophobic attacks in South Africa as senseless, reckless, barbaric and unacceptable.
“It is repugnant to any known human order or system.
“It is, therefore, unacceptable and should be loudly condemned by all agents of civilisation worldwide,” he said.
Braimoh said that it was paradoxical that South Africa which many Nigerians contributed to its liberation from apartheid rule has become hostile to it.
According to the legislator, any society where the rule of law fails and self help prevails is akin to the Stone Age where life was brutish and nasty.
He told journalists that the Nigerian Government had been able to respond well in the circumstances but needed to follow the matter up to a logical conclusion.
According to him, the government must ensure that all victims dead and alive are adequately compensated and their murderers brought to book.
Braimoh appealed to Nigerians to be calculated in their reactions to the attacks ‘in spite of the infuriating and exasperating temptations and frustrations’.
“By the indigenisation laws of Nigeria, substantial interests in almost all commercial and industrial concerns are owned by our investors even if they buy into world renowned brands as franchises.
“Therefore, destroying businesses perceived to be South African is simply destroying our own property.
“Our law enforcement agents should also tread softly and disperse unlawful assemblies with non-lethal weapons,” he said.