The Delta State House of Assembly has adopted to be holding sitting in batches with not more than fifteen members in a rearranged legislative chamber.
These were some steps taken by the House when it resumed plenary on Thursday to reduce human and vehicular movements at the Assembly Complex, as part of measures to control the spread of Corona virus in state.
The Majority Leader and Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon Tim Owhefere, said the new order affects both Honourable members, political aides, civil servants and visitors to the Assembly Complex.
Speaking on the decision to resume plenary despite challenges posed by Covid 19 pandemic, Hon Owhefere said all healthy precautions to ensure that the sitting of the House was in line with government position on the prevention of the spread of the virus have been adopted.
The lawmaker explained that the main chamber has been rearranged and not more than fifteen members will sit at a time, hence the adoption of sitting in batches and on rotational basis.
He said for the time being, the nine principal officers and six other members, two in each of the three senatorial districts would be sitting and that non essential staff have been asked to stay off to ensure social distancing during plenary.
“We have to rearrange the chambers to give enough spacing and we ensure that every sitting member wears a face mask. If you notice yesterday (Thursday), not every member of the house sat. What we did is the principal Officers and two members from each senatorial district. Next week hopefully we are going to pick two other members from each senatorial district to pair up with the principal officers to have a quorum to sit because the business of governance has to continue. For as long as this threat continues we will continue to sit with caution,” Owhefere stated
The Majority Leader and Chairman House Committee on Information said that the House cannot afford to have full gallery for now, hence most of the political aides have been directed to stay off and only few accredited journalists were allowed at the press stand of the gallery.
“We have to ensure we don’t constitute the gallery into a virus spreading unit as we all understand that it is safer to keep safe distance from the next person. For as long as we are under this threat, we are still going to observe that. If you noticed most members drove themselves to the office, just to reduce number of people at the Complex.”
Hon Owhefere said wearing of face masks have been made compulsory at the Complex as well as regular hand washing, stressing that by all intents and purposes, the leadership of the house had ensured strict adherence of all safety measures against Covid 19 pandemic.
The lawmaker stated that because business of governance must continue, the leadership of the House needed to act wisely to reconvene by navigating through the circumstances at hand, noting that most measures put in place are temporary and would be phased out when things return to normal.
“We will have another batch of members who did not sit previously in the next plenary. It is just a temporary arrangement because of the circumstances we find ourselves. It is not going to be a permanent arrangement. We just cannot say everybody should sit and endanger our lives and even that of others. We cannot afford to break the same very rules that we have put in place to ensure the safety of the people.”
Hon Owhefere emphasized that as long as humanity is under threat by Corona virus, the Delta State House of Assembly would continue to work in synergy with all critical stakeholders to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
He said the sudden lockdown of the state affected attention on pending bills before the house, disclosing that members were taken steps for immediate legislative actions on most of the bills, particularly those that are very necessary for the smooth running of the economy of the state.
Hon Owhefere said the Delta State Fiscal Responsibility Amendment Bill and the Delta State Public Procurement Bill passed by the House at its plenary on Thursday were part of efforts to keep the economy of the state running even as government try to manage the Corona virus pandemic.
The lawmaker said the House will continue to partner with the Executive for peace and good governance of the state.
The Majority Leader explained that sometimes when there is the need to suspend some rules of the house for legislation on certain matters; members do not hesitate to do so for the interest of the people.
Hon Owhefere expressed optimism that the Corona virus pandemic war will soon pass over the people for normalcy to return to the society.