The House of Representatives will tomorrow Tuesday, April 28, reconvene to consider and approve some key proposals by the Executive arm to jumpstart the country’s economy in the face of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resumption, the House said, would be in strict observance of the guidelines provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as new measures taken by the House to avoid the spread of the disease.
Subsequently, the House will sit every Tuesday, once in a week to provide legislative support for the country’s fight against COVID-19.
It would be recalled that the House had on March 24 adjourned sitting for 14 days, but the lawmakers extended the break following the lockdown order on the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States declared by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The House said it noted the need to resume sitting and attend to proposals before it to assist the Federal Government to confront the COVID-19 pandemic effectively as well as approve government plans to jumpstart Nigeria’s economic and growth development considering the socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic on Nigerians, especially the lockdown and fall in crude oil prices.
The House also noted the guidance from the World Health Organization and NCDC on workplace practices for public and private institutions.
The Green Chamber said it recognises that the best way to prevent infection and reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus by adhering to basic hand and respiratory hygiene measures.
Thus, as part of internal measures, the House issues some guidelines for re-convening, saying part of the objectives is to protect the health and safety of the Members and staff; advise Members and staff on protocols for social/physical distancing, face masks and face-covering; undertake critical legislative work required to support the Federal Government to effectively tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and execute other crucial legislative work for economic growth and development.
Part of the guidelines for its once-in-a-week sitting, the House said, include avoiding handshakes; using face masks or face covering always as only those properly kitted against COVID-19 will be allowed into the premises of the National Assembly, and avoid touching one’s face.
The House also said that mandatory temperature check will be conducted at the main entrance into the National Assembly by qualified medical personnel.
“Any Member or Staff whose temperature is above the acceptable range will be advised to seek proper medical advice. Members and Staff are discouraged from opening any main door, except their office doors, as the Sergeant-At-Arms are to man such doors, open them and disinfect regularly.
“If any Member or Staff feels sick, he or she must stay at home, contact his or her doctor for medical advice and do not come to the National Assembly premises.”
The House said the management of the National Assembly is to ensure that all Members and staff are abreast with the guidelines and other preparedness action plan put in place to reduce the risk of exposure in the National Assembly.
The management is to also work towards equipping the National Assembly clinic to handle COVID-19 related cases in the event of an emergency and ensure the presence of qualified medical staff dedicated to handling COVID-19 related matters and other emergency health issues.
As well as providing special pass for vehicles of staff and any other persons that have been approved to be allowed into the premises of the National Assembly to reduce contact with the security men at the entrance, the management is to discourage the sharing of work equipment, tools, computers, phones, and desks and provide hand sanitizers on each Member’s seat in the Chamber and in their offices as well as strategic locations within the House, among others.
With regards to the activities at the chamber, members, including the leadership, are to maintain three empty seats between them, and only two clerks-at-table are to sit at a time, while Clerk and Deputy Clerk will also observe social distancing.
“Members and Staff will wear their face masks in the Chamber and everywhere in the House premises. Members are not to approach the Speaker and the Clerks in the Chamber, and when that becomes absolutely necessary, social distancing must be observed,” the guidelines added.
The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other principal officers shall have few of their aides that would join them during the period as well as other essential parliamentary staff.