Teddy Oscar, Abuja
Following the human and vehicular traffic, which has increased tremendously on the Niger Bridge as a result of the yet-to-be completed Second Niger Bridge, the House of Representatives on Wednesday charged the corps marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr. Osita Chidoka, to properly manage the only existing bridge that connects the eastern part of the country to the larger part of the country.
The lawmakers particularly urged FRSC to always mobilise and station personnel on the bridge at Onitsha, pending the completion of the second bridge, which construction was recently flagged off by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Sequel to a motion sponsored by Hon. Cyril Egwatu on the floor of the Green Chambers of the National Assembly, the FRSC corps marshal is to further station the corps’ towing vans on the approaches to the bridge to facilitate prompt removal of broken down vehicles.
Egwatu observed that there has been a continued increase human and vehicular traffic since 1970 when the bridge was rehabilitated, after it was blown up during the Nigerian civil war.
Egwatu, who noted that overloaded vehicles oftentimes breakdown on the bridge, obstructing the free flow of traffic, pointed out that even when the bridge was not originally designed for double lane traffic, reckless users have continued to form up to four traffic lanes on the bridge.
The motion was unanimously adopted without debate, considering that it was an infrastructure motion.
Meanwhile, a motion that sought the approval of the House to cause Jonathan to rescind his earlier directive to cancel the recent tragic recruitment by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and constitute a special committee to do a fresh one suffered setback on the floor.
Sponsor of the motion, Hon. Ahmed Idris, noted that it was tantamount to total disregard of law for the executive arm of the government to unilaterally constitute a separate committee to conduct fresh recruitment into the service when there is an existing law, which gives such powers to CDFIPB.
You would recall that the President had, in the wake of the tragedy, ordered the cancellation last week, and raised a committee under the leadership of chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC).
Idris argued that the development contravened the provisions of the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Services Board (CDFIPB).
Citing Order 67, Rules 4 and 6 of the House, Hon. Nicholas Osai, however, countered the submission of Idris.
Osai reminded the House that there was a substantive motion already adopted to that effect with a mandate to the House Committee on Interior to investigate the tragic incident, and would be out of order to take a fresh motion on the same subject matter.
But the minority leader of the House argued that the said order referred to by Osai did not contemplate general issues, but specific matters, which the illegal constitution of a committee was one.
He urged the House to take the matter on its specificity.
Not satisfied with the arguments, deputy speaker, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who presided the affairs at the plenary, asked the chairman of the Committee on Interior, Hon. Umar Bature, whether the mandate for the investigation covered the current matter being raised.
While calling on the House to allow his committee finish the investigation first, the lawmaker explained that the CDFIPB Act recognised the interior minister as chairman of the board, implying that the subsisting motion would not yield anything different.
Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa, who was expected to save the situation, could, however, not recall the exact latitude of the mandate given the committee.
This prompted Ihedioha to rule that the committee should read the votes and proceedings of that day, and advise the House accordingly at Thursday’s plenary, and stood the motion down.