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Reps to resume plenary Tuesday inspite of covid-19

*Staff, aides to remain at home

*Members, aides express apprehension

*Say there is hidden agenda

By Malachy Uzendu

Irrespective of the growing corona virus infections nationwide, the leadership of the House of Representatives has scheduled resumption of plenary Tuesday.
In a notice of resumption issued by Patrick A Giwa dated 26th April 2020, members 2020 told they would resume plenary at 10am.

They were however told that the resumed plenary will be in line with “covid-19 Guidelines approved by the Federal Government and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and additional guidelines developed by the House” which will be sent to each member’s pigeonhole after resumption.

They were reminded however that “staff and members’ aides are to work from home and would be notified when needed in the office”.

The Senate which had earlier scheduled to resume last week, suddenly backed off without disclosing reasons for the action, but it is hoped that with the House taking the step, they would be forced to adopt same measure so as not to grind governance.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari has adjusted the 2020 budget downwards and also needs the approval of the National Assembly to carry out certain actions in respect to the management of the country’s affairs.

Insiders informed that due to the large number of the representatives, and the fact their their academic pedigree to cope with online plenary can not be ascertained and for the fact that such was not spelt out in the constitution, embarking on online plenary is not feasible even in the light of covid-19.

But there are worries about the covid-19 status of some of the members, particularly some of the Reps who are from the endemic areas of the country or who are known to visit places now regarded as high risk places.

Also, certain members have expressed concerns about none-insurance of members in case of covid-19 death, which is which there is discordant tones from members on the resumption and mode of plenary.

An aide to some of the members who spoke on condition of anonymity said “the House leadership took a high risk decision to call for plenary. I believe that no matter what it is, since it has been proven that we lack capacity to tackle covid-19 cases, there was no need exposing members to such high stake risk.

“Remember that we have different tendencies among the members and some of them are even so ignorant or religiously and culturally marooned that they don’t even believe covid-19 is real,” an aide to a principal officer said.

Another aide who expressed concerns said: “Look at what is happening in Kano right now, the number of strange deaths. What can you say bout it? As at now, nobody has ascertained the real cause of such deaths. There is even no capacity by the Federal Ministry of Health to do so as had been indicated by NCDC. Who knows if it is corona virus causing the deaths? Mind you that sicio-cultural cum religious variables do not permit certain people in Nigeria to conduct autopsy. So, we are even in greater mess if such people will not allow for inquiry”.

Yet, a member who prefers anonymity for fear of a backlash stated: “It is wrong and should I say, exhibiting high level indiscretion on the part of the House of Representatives leadership to issue notice of resumption of plenary. They are putting all the members, the security, their aides and their families at risk.

“I do not think many of us will attend until they spell out the procedure and measure to be taken. We can rush in to pick our mails, but you can imagine how it will look like if we avoid each other like a plague. That’s not our practice. We fraternise, we meet at committee, we relate with each other and exchange ideas and correspondences. How do we do all those?

“I am afraid there is a hidden agenda between our leadership and the executive arm of government. They will claim there was quorum and then take uninformed and not-properly-debated decisions,” the members said.

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