COVID 19: Senators, Reps, NASS staffers jittery over returnee colleagues from UK 

Palpable tension is building up among staffers of the National Assembly over possibility of outbreak of Coronavirus from 25 federal lawmakers across both  Chambers who returned from London trip last week.

This is as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya – Oloriegbe, declared that Nigeria does not have the resources for a worst scenario of the pandemic.

Members of both the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Petroleum (Upstream) totaling 25, had penultimate week, embarked on a three – day international training programme in London and returned last week Monday.

Twenty four hours after their arrival, the federal lawmakers comprising of 10 Senators and 15 members of the House of Representatives attended sessions at both chambers on Tuesday last week and repeated same on Wednesday and Thursday before Senators among them were later told by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to go for testing.

Lawan as authoritatively disclosed to journalists last week Thursday by the Senate’s spokesman, Senator Godiya Akwashiki (APC Nasarawa North), gave the directive to the affected Senators during closed door session held before plenary that day.

Akwashiki who made the disclosure in response to a question asked to that effect said, “President of the Senate at the closed door session, urged all  senators who have  just returned from foreign trips , particularly members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum ( Upstream), who have just returned from international oil conference held in London,  to go for testing on the virus before  the next  plenary.

“The Senate President stressed that the test was necessary for the affected Senators  because as leaders we should show example to others.”

While it is not clear whether the affected lawmakers had gone for the required testing , their refusal to isolate themselves for the required 14 days and outbreak of the virus in Abuja since Saturday , is making staffers of the National Assembly to panic .

The fear is further fueled by a purported letter forwarded from  the presidency  to leadership of both Chambers of the National Assembly two days ago .

The purported letter dated March 21, 2020 hinged on alleged refusal of some federal lawmakers to comply with the screening procedures at the airports’ terminals .

Efforts made to confirm the authenticity of the letter signed by the Chief of Staff to  President Muhamnadu Buhari, Abba Kyari however proved abortive as neither the President of the Senate nor Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, could be reached for comments over it as at the time of going to press .

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, has declared that Nigeria has no resources to fight the virus in a worst scenario as being witnessed in Italy and earlier experienced in China .

Oloriegbe in an exclusive chat with the Blueprint, Monday, also declared that it has not been scientifically proven that the virus is seasonal or temperate conditioned .

“Although all the cases recorded so far in Nigeria and by extension in some African countries , are imported ones , meaning that the infected people came either from Europe or Asia , but the fact that the people at home who had contact with them also get infected , means that it has no climatic resistance  .

“The same thing goes with seasons , as it is active in the body system of some Nigerians who contracted it from carriers from abroad now that we are in the heat period , it will also be active during raining season if it is not curtailed now.

“As earlier submitted on the floor of the Senate last week Nigerians need to increase the observance of the prevention control practices including avoidance of shaking of hands.

“If it is possible, people should not travel to countries with high risk of the cases especially in Europe where many countries are affected, unless such trips are very important.

“Nigeria should also consider disallowing non-Nigerians from countries of high risk from entering the country because in terms of funding, Nigeria does not have the resources to curtail the virus in the event of worst scenario “, he said .

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