Abuja – The House of Representatives which was presided over by the Speaker, Rt., Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila had rejected in totality the call seeking for the Nigerian government to evacuate stranded Nigerians in China, following the Coronavirus outbreak and the need to quarantine them here in Nigeria.
The motion which was moved by Hon. Benjamin Kalu witnessed a drama on the floor of the House as the subject matter of the motion immediately drew the ire of legislators, the moment it was introduced with many members heard murmuring to themselves in palpable disapproval.
The motion was in collaboration with the Deputy Majority Leader, Rep. Peter Akpatason , the Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu and several others.
Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who observed his Colleagues’ contempt on the motion intervened saying: “I can understand why you are murmuring but the body of the motion already takes care of your worries. I had a little glance of the motion”.
The speaker later put a question for members’ votes on whether the matter was urgent and important enough for the House to take immediately, majority thundered “nay”.
After few minutes consultation with Kalu and some other sponsors of the motion, the Speaker then asked him to again clearly cite the title of the motion for members’ understanding, a request to which Kalu responded saying it was on the “urgent need to quarantine and evacuate stranded Nigerians in China”. This again elicited another round of murmuring and laughter.
Gbajabiamila again, waded in by explaining that “perhaps what Honourable Ben (Kalu) wanted to say is ‘evacuate and quarantine’, adding; “you have managed to confuse the mover of the motion”.
When he asked Akpatason to second the motion as one of the promoters, the lawmaker rather stated that “based on leadership consultation and what appeared to be a serious misunderstanding of the motion, we ask for the leave of the house to step it down”.
Still undaunted, the speaker said “nobody wants to bring them (the stranded Nigerians) back to infect people here, so let’s hear the motion first, and the prayers. If we don’t like it, we can kill it at that point”, and subsequently asked Elumelu; another promoter to second it, but the later declined, claiming that his microphone had malfunctioned.
When the motion was finally seconded by Hon. Tajudeen Yususf, Majority of members still voted in the negative.
However, shortly after the motion was rejected, Hon. Uchechukwu Nnam-Obi moved a point of Order of privilege, demanding that that the House revisits the motion instead of dissipating energy on the Visa restrictions placed on Nigerians by the American government.
Nnam-Obi moved pursuant to Oder 6 sub rule 3 of the House standing Orders, saying that “Mr. Speaker I rise to move that instead of this House of the Nigerian people to dissipate energy debating the right and wrong of Visa restrictions, we should reconsider Hon. Kalu’s motion which in my opinion is more important because it’s about life and deaths of our brothers and sisters in China”.
Upon his protest, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila said he had noted his point of order, just as he directed that debate on the Visa restrictions motion should proceed.