By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — THE House of Representatives said, yesterday, that Senate ought not to talk about going to South Africa, in view of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in that country, saying such a move amounted to a duplication of efforts.
It also told the South African government that the recent attacks should be the last, warning that Nigeria had the capacity to retaliate any form of ill-treatment meted out on its citizens.
The House equally reminded the South African government and its people to be mindful of the consequences should Nigeria decide to retaliate the incessant attacks on its citizens in South Africa.
House of Representatives
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Majority Leader of the House and leader of the delegation, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “This is bicameral legislature, both houses are independent but for the ease of governance and diplomacy, it would have been proper or better to have one house and not two houses. This duplication of labour is absolutely unnecessary for both houses to travel.
“I believe it was an oversight on the part of the Senate. If you know our history, normally when the Senate has done something, most times even if it comes up on the floor of the House, if you follow our debate, we will say this matter has already been decided by the Senate.
“I believe in this particular case, the Senate was not aware the House has taken a resolution on this matter.”
The Majority Leader, who was flanked by the chairperson, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnenna Ukeje and Henry Nwawuba, debunked insinuations in some quarters that the visit was a mere jamboree and waste of the nation’s resources.
Reasons behind visit
Giving reasons the House considered it expedient to send the delegation to South Africa, the Majority Leader said: “We are hopeful that our engagement with the South African Parliament and authorities will provide lasting solutions.
“We will attempt to meet with the South African Parliament to discuss the possibility of both countries enacting hate crime laws. This would cover crimes committed based on nationality.
“We intend to engage the South African Parliament and other authorities in areas of mutual benefit and how much both countries could lose from xenophobia and possible retaliatory actions or severing of diplomatic ties.
“This delegation will seek to strengthen the Nigerian/South African Bilateral Commission which only exists on paper for now. We hope to meet with Nigerians who reside in South Africa and assure them of government’s intervention.
“We will advance and hopefully get a commitment on the need for payment of compensation for the victims of this last attack.
“The House believed that it would be almost an irresponsible act or omission for any parliament or legislative body confronted with an issue such as this not to take proactive steps in addressing the issue.”
Southern Kaduna, IPOB
On why the delegation should go to South Africa when in Nigeria, innocent citizens were killed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during the inauguration of President Donald Trump of United States of America without government showing concern, he said the House had always stood for the masses.
He said: “On the issue of IPOB, and issue of southern Kaduna, charity begins at home. Keen observers of what happens in the National Assembly will noticed that the House has not sat down idly without doing anything about these killings that happen here in Nigeria.