Reps Ask FG To Declare Public Health Emergency Over Coronavirus

A cross-section of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja on January 29, 2020.

The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to declare a public health emergency in the country, following the outbreak of the coronavirus in China.

The lawmakers made the call on Wednesday during plenary at the House chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

They noted that although the virus has not been reported in Nigeria, the government must take preventive measures to ensure that the virus does not make its way into the country.

The issue was raised as a matter of urgent public importance by the Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, and was supported by her colleagues.

A member of the House, Chile Okafor, drew the attention of the lawmakers to about 300,000 Chinese nationals who left Nigeria to their country to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

According to the lawmaker, the foreigners are expected back in the country after the event.

The House, therefore, called for thorough monitoring of all the entry points into the country.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, gave a speech to welcome lawmakers in the chamber from their six-week recess.

He said the House would dedicate a whole plenary to address the education challenges facing the country.

Gbajabiamila revealed that some top officials of various Ministries, Department, and Agencies (MDAs), as well as some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have major roles to play in the discussion.

He added that they have been invited to the session which has a special focus on the Almajiri children, to ensure rapid response and improvement of the education sector.

“Everywhere you go in the big cities of Nigeria, we now have on our streets, legions of children begging for alms from sunup till the last dusk … they are at risk of exploitation, vulnerable to recruitment by human traffickers, criminals, and insurgents,” Gbajabiamila said.

He stressed, “I, therefore, propose that this House of Representative resolves to dedicate a special plenary session with nothing else on paper, save to consider the issue of Nigeria’s millions of our of school children, with a special focus on the fate of Almajiri children in Nigeria.”

The speaker stated further that the House would ensure the prompt passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, as well as the Petroleum Industry Bill, and pay close attention to persons living with disabilities.

On the security situation in the country, he said necessary security interventions would be put in place in line with the laws of the land.


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