President Muhammadu Buhari with Speaker, House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila. Image credit: State House

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to discuss the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

The Speaker made this known while speaking to State House correspondents at the end of his meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

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Gbajabiamila said he was in the villa to discuss national issues requiring the attention of both the legislature and the executive with the President.

The Speaker said the National Assembly was on the same page with the president and the government regarding the Xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens in South Africa.

“I came to fully discuss that with Mr President and other national issues that require the attention of both the legislature and the executive, and we had very fruitful discussions on those issues.

“As of now, Mr President has taken proactive steps in evacuating our citizens. We have issued a statement today and is in tandem with what the executive is doing and we stand by our citizens.

“Our priority is to protect the welfare of our citizens and that is exactly what we are doing and that is what the president is doing,’’ he said.

Gbajabiamila also revealed that they deliberated on the issue of the budget circle as well as the $9.6 billion dollars London Judgment debt.

He expressed the hope that the executive arm would submit the 2020 appropriation bill to the National Assembly before the end of September 2019.

“We discussed the issue of the budget, as you are aware we want to bring the budget circle back to what it used to be – January to December, and the only way to do that is for an early presentation of the budget and we have discussed that.

“I know the budget is going to come as early as possible. It may be the end of this month or shortly thereafter, but I cannot give you any definite date.

“But it’s going to be an early presentation so that we can pass the budget before the end of the year and return to the January to December circle.

“We discussed security issues and the issue of the recent $9 billion awards against Nigeria. I say that with a smile but not really smiling.

”Clearly we are in opposition to that and steps will be taken,’’ he said.

Concise News had reported that Gbajabiamila had said that federal lawmakers would authorise legal funding for Nigerian victims of the latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The lawmaker also condemned the recent attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in the country located on the feet of the African continent.

Gbajabiamila, who made this known at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, also warned South Africa against alleging that Nigerians in the country were criminals.

“The House will also authorise legal funding for victims of the attack who wish to take legal action against the perpetrators,” he said.

The Speaker also called on Nigerians to avoid attacking South African business interests in the West African country.

He further revealed that the House aligned with President Muhammadu Buhari on his decisions concerning this matter.

According to him, the House will invite the Minister of Foreign affairs, the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa and the Chairman of the Diaspora Commission.

He further demanded that the South African government conduct a thorough investigation and make public their findings.

According to Gbajabiamila, time for dialogue is over and it is time to take action on the xenophobic attacks.

He said the attacks on Nigerians and their businesses was an “abomination against our people,” stating that, “We did not provoke nor did we deserve the treatment meted out to our people in South Africa.”