According to reports, the Senate yesterday cancelled its planned trip to South Africa to protest the recurrent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by citizens of the former apartheid nation.
The decision to cancel the trip was taken at a closed-door session held before the commencement of yesterday’s plenary.
Reporting the Senate’s decision at the take-off of the plenary, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, said the Senate was compelled to cancel the trip in view of House of Representatives’ insistence that it would lead a separate delegation to South Africa.
According to him, efforts made to persuade the House of Representatives to allow its delegation join that of the Senate so that a single delegation of the National Assembly could be led to South Africa did not yield any fruitful result because the House insisted that it would lead a separate team to South Africa.
He added that Senate insistence that the National Assembly should lead a single delegation to the country was meant to save it from embarrassment that will arise from two delegations visiting South Africa from the same body and the same country over the same purpose, explaining that Senate therefore opted to pull out of the planned trip and allow only the House to embark on the trip.
“On our trip to South Africa, we noted that the House of Representatives insists on going to South Africa independently. We thought we could lead a single and harmonised delegation of the National Assembly to avoid the embarrassment of multiple delegations. The Senate, therefore, decided to pull out to allow the House delegation to proceed,” Ekweremadu said.
The Senate had on March 1, raised a delegation meant to be led by Ekweremadu to South Africa to engage their counterparts in South Africa Parliament with a view to ending recurrent attacks on Nigerians and their businesses in South Africa.
The constitution of the delegation was the fallout of February 28, 2017 resolution of the Senate to dispatch a delegation of the upper chamber on a parliamentary diplomatic mission to the country to register the nation’s displeasure on the resurgence of the attacks on its citizens and to dialogue with their South African counterparts on how to end the perennial attacks.
The resolution was spurred by a motion moved by Senator Rose Oko (Cross River North), with the title: “Resurgence of Xenophobic Attacks and Extra-judicial Killings of Nigerians in South Africa.”
Besides Ekweremadu, other members of the dissolved delegation were Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North); the Chief Whip, Sola Adeyeye (Osun Central); Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central); Stella Oduah (Anambra North); Magnus Abe (Rivers North-east) and Senator Shaba Lafiaji (Kwara North).
Also yesterday, the Senate tasked governments at all levels to concede to women an appreciable number of elective offices in the country.
The resolution was the fallout of a motion moved by Senator Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa North) along with seven others, titled: “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030,” in commemoration of International Women’s Day.
The Senate also mandated its Committee on Women Affairs to examine Violence against Persons Prohibition Act with a view to domesticating it in all states of the federation and report its findings back to the Senate.
In the motion, Garba recalled how in 2015, world leaders adopted the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by placing gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls at the heart of the 2030 agenda to foster sustainable development.