The days when members sign attendance register in the Chamber and walk away is gone for good, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila told his colleagues on Thursday.
Gbajabiamila spoke while ruling on a Point of Order by a member, Haruna Dederi, who observed that the quorum was not formed on the floor as members debated a motion on drug abuse.
Dederi, while speaking on the Point of Order, noted that members were very few in the Chamber and a quorum of 120 members was not formed.
But, Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu said a quorum cannot be determined by the number of members in the Chamber.
According to him, “some members have come, signed in the chamber and left for committee assignments and oversight.”
House Leader Ado Doguwa said it is an established tradition, admitting that the number of members in the Chamber did not reflect quorum.
Gbajabiamila, who said the House would have to suspend its rules, if the debate would continue, noted that the usual excuse to continue plenary when the quorum is not formed is wrong.
He referred members to Order 4 Rule 2, saying the House should keep to the spirit of the rule.
The order says: The quorum of the House shalt be: one-third of all the members of the House.
If any member draws the attention of the Speaker to the fact that a quorum of the House is not present, or if, from the number of members taking part in a division, including those members who declined to vote, it appears that a quorum is not constituted, the Speaker shall cause members to be summoned as if for a division.
At the expiration of 15 minutes from such order, the Speaker shalt count the House and, if a quorum is not then constituted, shall adjourn the House forthwith.”
Gbajabiamila said that things should be done in conformity with the rules of the House.
“If the intention was that people should come at 10am, sign and go; then, we’re kidding ourselves. We cannot be conducting sitting with 10 members. Hon. Elemelu, I hereby rule you out of order.
“On the issue of committee work, I’m inclined to agree with that. That’s important and part of sitting of the House. But just to play safe and for future, move for suspension of the rule so we can continue.”
Also Thursday, the House resolved to probe all the roads constructed by the Federal Government across the country since 2007 to date
The decision followed the passage of a motion by Dachung Musa Bagus, titled: “Motion on the daily death of Nigerians as result of bad roads in Nigeria” under Matters of Urgent Public Importance at the plenary.
The House mandated the Richard Olufemi Bamisile-led Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), to investigate all roads constructed by the Federal Government since 2007 till date and report by to House within few weeks for further legislative action.
The House urged the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Works and Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), to include the construction and rehabilitation of the bad roads in the country in the priority list for the 2020 budget.
Bagus, while moving the motion , said: “Notes the challenges caused by poor nature of our roads in the country, which are in deplorable condition which make it difficult for road users and commuters to without recording avoidable loss of life and enormous damage to vehicles.
“Also notes that, most Federal Highways were constructed in the 1970’s and since then, no major quality construction or rehabilitation has been carried out on these important links.
“Further note that these federal highways have been death traps, most of the routes that link the states to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are on the verge of being cut off from being part of the federating units of Nigeria.
“We are concerned that, if urgent measures are not taken to rehabilitate roads to improve the economic and commercial activities of the people in terms of infrastructural development, they will continue to wallow in abject poverty which can lead to the total collapse of the social infrastructure.
“This can threaten the existence of some States as federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria if severed from the road network to the FCT.”
Bagus raised concerns over the avoidable deaths being recorded on the highways due to the deplorable conditions of the roads.
According to him, despite the billions of naira invested on repair, road accidents have claimed more lives than the dreaded Book Haram insurgency.