Xenophobia: Gbajabiamila commends Julius Malema, Air Peace

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Femi]
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Femi]

The speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has commended the leader of the South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, for condemning xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa.

Mr Gbajabiamila who spoke on Tuesday in his welcome address to lawmakers on their return from a two-month recess also commended the chairman of Air Peace airlines for voluntarily evacuating stranded Nigerians from South Africa.

The South African opposition leader had condemned the attacks on foreigners and asked his organisation to protect Nigerian citizens vulnerable to attacks.

Many Nigerians in South Africa have suffered from the latest xenophobic attacks with many businesses destroyed and looted.

Although at least five people have been killed in the attacks targeting foreigners of African descent, the Nigerian government has said no Nigerians were killed.

Domestic carrier, Air Peace, has indicated its willingness to evacuate Nigerians to complement efforts of the Federal Government to check the death of Nigerians residing in South Africa.

The airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Oluwatoyin Olajide, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to facilitate the rescue of stranded Nigerians in South Africa.

Hundreds of Nigerians have since seized the opportunity and returned to the country.

“I invite the House to at this time join me in commending the actions of Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and a respected voice in the politics of that nation who openly and without equivocation, condemned the attacks and directed his organisation to provide aid and protection to our citizens facing harm,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.

He added that the South African opposition leader has since then, never relented in calling out the failures of the government that allowed the attacks to occur and to continue.

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“In a similar fashion, Sir Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace Airlines provided his organisation’s services without charge, to repatriate those Nigerians who were willing to return home to escape the carnage that had been visited upon them.

“He acted without consideration of cost, of tribe or personal interest. He acted in the best traditions of patriotism and love of country. Our country owes these men a debt of gratitude,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.

Ad-hoc committees to hand over to standing committees

The speaker in his remark has also directed all ad-hoc committees to hand over to standing committees by the end of September.

READ ALSO: Xenophobia: Ezekwesili, Nigerians in South Africa suggest steps to end attacks

Prior to the composition of standing committees, the speaker had announced various ad-hoc committees to steer the affairs of the house.

Standing committees were later named before the house went on its two months recess.

“Before we adjourned the House on 25th July 2019, a significant amount of work had already started. We had begun legislative action through the consideration of 13 number of bills including Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill 2019 and Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill 2019.”

“We had also in that time received and debated 57 number of motions on a range of issues including the non Remittance of Contribution into the NSIFT by the Federal, States, Local Government and Some Public and Private Organizations Work on those Bills and those motions will continue, even as we continue to receive, debate and act on other new legislation.”

“All ADHOC Committees to wind up and handover to standing committees by September 30th.”

The speaker added that the House will consider important legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

“I believe that we in this 9th Assembly are ideally suited to surmount the obstacles that have mitigated against passage of this essential reform legislation which is important if we are to properly address the structural, operational and policy challenges and inefficiencies in the Nigerian petroleum industry, and position the industry to best serve the interests of all the Nigerian people,” he said.

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