House assures on passage of MTEF on Tuesday
James Emejo in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the struggle for total and unconditional emancipation of the unfortunate victims of slavery in Libya and other places where slave trade is happening by deploying Nigeriaâ€™s diplomatic and military clout to put an end to it.
He further challenged the stand of the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the issue, stressing that their voices on the ongoing inhuman trade had been feeble.
Dogara made the clarion call in a speech delivered in plenary titled, â€œConfronting the Scourge of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.â€
He said history would remember President Buhari as one of Africaâ€™s great statesman if he successfully leads the campaign to eradicate modern slavery.
Meanwhile, the spokesman of the House, Hon. Abdulrasak Namdas yesterday said the lower chamber will ensure that the the 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is passed next Tuesday.
The National Assembly is expected to adjourn plenary for two weeks effective Tuesday to enable members embark on oversight functions to ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) to ascertain the level of capital implementation of the 2017 budget.
The adjournment of plenary actitives is also to enable it attend to MDAs which are expected to commence their 2018 budget defence.
Speaking during the routine media briefing, Namdas allayed concerns that the ongoing debate of the 2018 budget could have grave implications in view of the fact that the MTEF is yet to be passed.
He said the House has not committed any offence by simply opening debate on the budget adding that the MTEF will be passed before the budget is considered and passed in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
But, some members had declined comments on the budget on grounds that it was out of order to debate it when the MTEF which ought to serve as a guide has not been passed.
He said though thereâ€™s been pressure from Nigerians to pass the budget, the National Assembly will nevertheless, take its time to do a thorough job before passage.
He said itâ€™s expected that the executive will also play its part by ensuring that the budget is well implemented when passed by the parliament.
However, on the fight against slavery, the speaker said:â€Permit me to use this opportunity to call on Mr President and Commander in Chief to lead this struggle for total and unconditional emancipation of the unfortunate victims of this scourge.
â€œHistory beckons on our President with a gold pen and a page reserved for only Africaâ€™s great Statesmen if he successfully leads the campaign to eradicate modern slavery. Mr President should, if necessary, deploy Nigeriaâ€™s diplomatic and military clout on this matter. We would like to see an immediate convening of emergency session of the ECOWAS and AU to launch a rescue operation as soon as possible. As it is, the voices of ECOWAS and AU are unacceptably too feeble on this devastating issue.â€
He commended the French President, Mr Emmanuel Macron, for taking a principled position on the matter and applying pressure on the United Nations (UN) to take urgent steps in dealing with this scourge and appealed to other nations who value freedom and the dignity of the human person to join France in working out a permanent solution to the resurgent evil.
He stressed that the time for the world to take responsibility and act is now, and echoed the words of His Holiness, Pope Francis who said: â€œHuman trafficking is a scourge, a crime against the whole of humanity. It is time to join forces and work together to free its victims and to eradicate this crime that affects all of us, from individual families to the worldwide community.â€
He said:â€If you thought the horrific events that led to the deaths of our girls were appalling just as we prepared to leave Italy last Friday, we received the terrifying news that another set of 30 migrants had died in the Mediterranean Sea while 200 were rescued. To our collective shame, these kinds of deaths have become a recurring decimal on account of which the Mediterranean Sea has become the cemetery where Africaâ€™s future, which our young represent, is buried. Our findings reveal that the deaths are under-reported as the figures more often than not do not take into account those deaths for which the corpses are not recovered. It must be noted that in most cases some of the immigrants are deliberately dumped into the sea like bags of weed.
â€œTo add salt to injury, humanityâ€™s conscience was recently jolted by the CNN report of auctioning of black African migrants as salves in Libya where these migrants are normally held in servitude in human cargo holding facilities. I believe most of us have seen the atrocious pictures of black Africans in such overcrowded holding facilities were they are packed like sardines and often mercilessly beaten and terrorized by their captors in order to keep them subjugated. These pictures which the social media is replete with have moved even the brute and the cruel to tears.