….Members protest channel of communication
..displeased by their exposure to Coronavirus by noncompliant colleagues
OrderPaperToday– A memo from the Presidency to the National Assembly expressing concern over refusal of lawmakers to submit themselves to compulsory testing for Coronavirus infection at airports is currently causing ripples among members of the National Assembly.
For starters, OrderPaperNG gathered that the leaked memo, which was addressed to the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, and copied to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, ruffled feathers of the lawmakers because of the channel of communication through which the message was conveyed.
The memo was sent from the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President and signed by the chief of staff, Mr Abba Kyari.
It raised concerns over the issue which was said to have been reported by the minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire and the chief of staff noted that the alleged breach by the lawmakers poses a national threat as the procedure is the first line of defense against the virus.
As at morning of Monday, 23rd March, 35 cases and one death had been recorded from Coronavirus infections, which were transmitted from returnees from foreign trips.
A member said while speaking on condition of anonymity that while it is wrong for legislators to refuse to subject themselves to compulsory Coronavirus checks, it is improper for a “personal staff” of the president to “direct an arm of government.”
He stated, “It is wrong for members to so act but the letter is an abuse of democratic Institutions for personal staff (aide) of Mr. President to direct the head of an arm of government. It is a denigration of our institutions.”
A matter of breach of privileges of lawmakers by the chief of staff to the president could very likely be raised tomorrow when the lawmakers convene for plenary.
But more seriously, the legislators, according to inside sources, are said to be highly unsettled by the fact that they are now unduly exposed to contracting the dreaded virus from their colleagues who have been called out in the memo. The identity of the members was not included in the document.
Recall that the House of Representatives had earlier resolved to adjourn plenary due to Coronavirus but did not follow up with a specific time for the break.
Similarly, the Senate president last week urged his colleagues who have recently returned from foreign trips to have themselves tested for the virus.
With recent developments, it is expected that the National Assembly will proceed on a break to prevent a spread of the virus from members who may have skipped the scanning process at the airports.
Earlier, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Mr. Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia), condemned the alleged act by his colleagues, saying the “virus is no respecter of persons, social status or political positions of individuals or economic status. It affects the rich, the poor, the beautiful and the ugly. It does not discriminate against any societal symbol or status. So people should make efforts at all times to obey the minute rule that will make Nigeria safe.”
Find attached a copy of the letter: