The House of Representatives on Tuesday, 26 September, 2017 resumed plenary after its annual recess. In his welcome address to the chamber, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara stated recent developments in the country is a pointer to the fact that Constitutional amendment remains an unfinished business. He added that in the interest of the Nigerian people the chamber would revisit any aspect of the process that requires review such as the section on devolution of power.
Dogara, while commending the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the exit of the economy from recession, also commiserated with families of those who lost their lives in recent flood and other incidents across the country. He said the chamber is aware of the agitations in the Southeast, the deployment of troops and the call for restructuring in various quarters. The Speaker seized the moment to commend the elders and senior citizens, particularly in the Northern States who demonstrated statesmanship by ensuring that there is peace, order and unity.
Furthermore, he pledged the commitment of the House towards timely legislative response to issues that have been in the front burners. “We need to sieve all the noise and try to find out the real issues that majority of the citizens want”, he stressed. Dogara did not end without addressing the disturbing spate of industrial actions by various arms of Labour Unions. He said the Chamber is concerned, but commends the Executive for their response to the demands of these unions, though some resolutions are inconclusive.
The Speaker informed that the House of Representatives has come under severe criticisms over the Non-Governmental Organizations Bill, said while the chambers welcomes public opinions on the Bill, regrets that the motive behind some of the criticisms are to disparage the integrity of the legislative institution. He stated that “it is good to desire freedom, but let those seeking for freedom know that it comes with responsibility; for there is no such thing as freedom to be irresponsible”.
He did not end his speech without emphasizing the need for the nation to remain one. Dogara stated that “despite the overwhelming challenges confronting the nation, the things that bind us are more than those that divide us”. He cautioned against hate speeches and warned those fanning the ember of hate and diversity to desist from doing so. “We must learn to tolerate each other, for hate speech has no place in a democracy”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, following a Point of Order raised by the Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, urging the House to begin the process of healing and re-uniting the country, the chamber resolved to set up a Committee to liaise with all stakeholders to dialogue on national unity. The lawmakers also resolved to revisit the issue of devolution of power in the interest of the public.
Hon. Gbajabiamila stated that his motion is predicated on the various agitations that grossly affect the peace and unity of the country that have resulted to destruction of properties and loss of lives. “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done”, he charged.