We’ll work with President to protect Nigerians in South Africa —Gbajabiamila
THE Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Friday pledged the support of the Green Chambers for President Muhammadu Buhari towards protecting Nigerians against further xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
According to him, the President has been taking proactive steps on the issue.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Buhari at the State House, he said that he was on the same page with the President on the issue.
Asked the purpose for his visit to the Presidential Villa, he said: “Engagement with Mr. President is not out of place even on a normal day, but these are not normal days.
“The country in the last few days has witnessed unfortunate incidents in South Africa.
“As you are aware, I cut my trip to Tanzania to return with the hope of reconvening the house so that we can discuss this very important issue.
“We have called that off because events have overtaken it. The government has taken proactive steps; the same we would have taken.
“We are all on the same page with the President and the government.
“So I came to fully discuss that with Mr. President and other national issues that require the attention of both the legislature and the executive, and we had very fruitful discussions on those issues.”
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Asked if there are moves to cut bilateral ties with South Africa, he said: “We are not there yet, but nothing is off the table. We will take each day as it comes.
“As of now, Mr. President has taken proactive steps in evacuating our citizens, recalling the high commissioner. We will stand with and by Nigerians.
“We have issued a statement today and it is in tandem with what the executive is doing, and we stand by our citizens.
“Our priority is to protect the welfare of our citizens, and that is exactly what we are doing, and that is what the President is doing.”
He said that other issues discussed with the President included returning national budget cycle to January to December, the $9.6 billion judgment against Nigeria and security issues.
He said: “We discussed the issue of the budget. As you are aware, we want to bring the budget cycle back to what it used to be, January to December, and the only way to do that is for an early presentation of the budget, and we have discussed that.
“We discussed security issues and the issue of the recent $9 billion damages awarded against Nigeria. I say that with a smile but not really smiling. Clearly we are in opposition to that and steps will be taken.”
Asked if the budget would get to the National Assembly this month, he said: “I cannot give you a definite answer. But I know the budget is going to come as early as possible. It may be the end of this month or shortly after. I cannot give you a definite date.
“But it’s going to be an early presentation so that we can pass the budget before the end of the year and return to the January to December cycle.”
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