No directive to procure visa for Reps' Saudi trip

THE SUN Newspaper- James Ojo

Three weeks after the House of Representatives decided to raise a team to visit President Umaru Yar’Adua in hospital in Saudi Arabia, the move has remained a dream. Sunday Sun learnt that as at Friday morning, it was clear that the management of the National Assembly was yet to receive the nod to commence administrative procedures to secure traveling documents for the team.

The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja on Tuesday denied that it was delaying the issuance of visas for the delegation as no application to that effect has been filed. On Thursday, a member of the delegation and the Minority Leader, Ali Ndume, cried out that he had been carrying about his diplomatic passport with the hope that somebody will collect it to procure a visa to enable him travel to see the president.

Ndume laid his complaints before the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, who threw it back at the Deputy House Leader, Baba Shehu Agaie, the leader of the delegation and it ended like that.
After the drama on the floor, efforts to speak to Agaie was frustrated as he left an instruction with his aides not to entertain any journalist asking questions on the trip. Investigation however revealed that he, as a member of the House leadership was asked to play along in the drama over Yar’Adua’s health.

It was gathered that the clearance to proceed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to obtain a Note Verbal to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia was still being awaited in the office of the Clerk of the House as at the close of work on Thursday. “We cannot do anything here on any issue without due clearance from above. It affects every decision taken on the floor. It is not a written rule, but you must get approval, every thing we do here must be vetted. What I know is that we are yet to be communicated to proceed and without that, nothing can be done” our source said.
On the first parliamentary working day of the year, the House had after a two- hour debate on the state of the nation behind closed doors came up with a resolution to dispatch a team to visit President Yar’Adua on his sick bed and brief him on the developments at home.

It took the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole another one week to constitute the team to be led by the Deputy House Leader, Hon Baba Shehu Agaie( PDP Niger state, representing the North Central, the Minority Leader), Ali Ndume , Nnenna Ukeje and Patrick Ikhariale.

Others are Fatai Moroof and Hon Jubril Adamu.
Sunday Sun reports that if the decision to send a delegation to Saudi Arabia was contested by the Caucus of Action Congress (AC) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the composition of the team reinforced the belief that it was designed to achieve nothing at the end.

“Yes, I look at the composition of those going to see the president as they say, but none of them is a medical doctor. I am sure there is no pharmacist among them. Then what are they going to do, to just wave to the man and whisper that all is well at home, that is, if they can access him? ”, a member said


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