By Ayo Kehinde
Faced with a public backlash over his comments that Nigerians in the Diaspora has no business commenting on insecurity in the country, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase has issued a statement on Monday in an attempt to soften his comments.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Umar Mohammed Puma, the Deputy Speaker said the exchange between him and Mark Gbillah, representing Gwer East-Gwer West constituency of Benue State, was a technical one dealing with the legal status of the organization that made the presentation in plenary on Thursday.
He said; “ In the current incident, the sponsor of the petition read the petitioners as Association of Tivs Resident In the United State, For the experienced politician this very coinage raises a lot of technical questions. Are the petitioners represented here in Nigeria via a Nigerian office or a legal practitioner or are they total absent from the scene? Are they registered as an association with the Corporate Affairs Commission.? If they were absent and a hearing was to be organized, who would the members of the Committee of Public Petition be addressing, questioning, interrogating? Would the petitioners be able to give first hand witness testimony as to the issues raised in the petition.?”
Representative of a Diaspora group, US Nigerian Law Group in Washington, Emmanuel Ogebe was not moved. In a statement, he has tongue-lashed the Deputy Speaker in a statement, calling him the worst face of representation in Nigeria lawmaking.
According to Ogebe who said he was appalled to hear of the disgraceful statements attributed to Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker that Nigerians abroad have no right to speak about insecurity at home., stated that
“Such an asinine remark is shocking but not unexpected. Indeed it is part of the logical consequences of brain drain that dim wits will fill the power vacuum. At a time that Nigeria is exporting global leaders like Ngozi Iweala, Akin Adesina and Amina Mohamed to the headship of multilateral institutions, it is the likes of Idris Wase left in power.
“So Nigerians abroad who remit $22B yearly to Nigeria are NOT Nigerian enough to comment on Fulani violence but Fulanis from abroad can come into Nigeria, kill Nigerians and harm our agro-economy with impunity?
“Sensible countries understand the value of their Diaspora as a strategic foreign human capital reserve and woo them accordingly. President Obasanjo’s administration certainly did so and introduced the annual Diaspora day. Indeed when on a VOA interview with one of Obasanjo’s ministers he said Diaspora was “inconsequential” we immediately took him up as out of tune with his president’s policy priority.
“Unfortunately the intellectual quality of leadership has gravely declined under Buhari that you can now find members of parliament representing cows over humans.
“At a time when US President Biden’s administration has appointed more high profile Nigerians than ever in history, it is pathetic that Idris Wase is denigrating us at home. Thus it is said that a prophet is without honor in his own home.
He submitted that the reason why the US and UN do not as a principle negotiate with terrorists is not for lack of funds or concern but strategic – do not create a precedent that will make your citizens or diplomats become easy profit targets for kidnappers!
“Gov el -Rufai sought out Fulanis abroad and paid them money not to kill Kaduna state people because he their Fulani brother was now the governor.”
What does this mean, he asked? He answers, “It meant that these foreign Fulanis could now monetize the killing of Kaduna people.
It meant that they could do so with impunity because their brother the Fulani was governor.”
Fulani kidnap syndicate now have established entire kidnap villages in Kaduna state where hostages are housed, fed, killed or freed from with impunity.
The two-hour Abuja-Kaduna road is now more dangerous from Fulani kidnap syndicate than from Boko Haram on Benesheikh road in the northeast.
Bad governance has consequences as does lack of principles.
Nigerians in Diaspora on the other hand save the country. While politicians are looting money abroad, our remittances have stabilized the economy from hemorrhaging.
Indeed recently the CBN switched to dollar remittances for money transfers to make up for the shortfall in petro dollar incomes.
Nigerians abroad are part of the few nationalities in Diaspora who get nothing in return for the economic value they bring.
The time has come for us to consider having a member of the National Assembly representing the Diaspora.
Idris Wase does not represent well the good and hospitable people of Plateau who host more expatriates than any state in the north.
He represents a typical Nigerian politician who doesn’t know his job and is illiterate on democracy and governance.
How It All Began
Wase who, while presiding over the affairs of the lower chamber in the absence of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday, March11, 2021 had said no right sending petitions to the House on issues happening in Nigeria.
He spoke in response to the request of lawmaker, Mark Gbillah’s attempt to submit a petition filed by Mzough U Tiv Amerika on insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba.
Gbillah had explained he was submitting the petition on behalf of MUTA because indigenes of the affected states had been sacked from their ancestral lands.
Before he could speak further, however, Wase, who is of the ruling All Progressives Congress, said: “Honourable Gbillah, did you say Tivs in America? What do they know about Nigeria?
“What is their business? They can’t sit in their comfort zones and know what is happening in Nigeria. It would be understandable “if this petition is coming from those who are within the country.”
Wase quickly countered by asking if MUTA was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Insisting on his right to be hearted, Gbillah responded by saying Section 40 of the constitution does not stop citizens from freedom of association, adding that Nigeria had been pursuing a policy of inclusiveness for its citizens in the Diaspora, an aim that would easily be defeated if the same category of Nigerians cannot be allowed to speak on raging matters of national concern.
Wase, would not be pacified. He thundered; “I’ll refer you to the functions of the committee on Diaspora, if you go through that, it is nothing relevant to what you’re now presenting, I’m not convinced that we have to take that petition,” Wase said.