Tuesday, 16 March 2021 03:03

[OPINION] The Nigerian Diaspora Vs. Deputy Speaker Idris Wase - Reuben Abati

Idris Wase is the Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives. There is a video in circulation that shows him presiding over a session of the House of Representatives in the absence of the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila. The matter before the House was the attempt by Rep. Mark Terser Gbilah representing the Tiv Federal Constituency to present a petition by his constituents writing under the umbrella of the Mutual Union of Tivs in America (MUTA). These concerned citizens in the said petition sought to register their protest about the maltreatment, utter neglect and the wanton violation of the fundamental human rights of their kith and kin back home in Nigeria who as a result of the attack on their homesteads and farmlands by herdsmen have been rendered homeless in the past few years and are now stranded in refugee camps in the Middle Belt. Members of MUTA want their people’s plight to be addressed by the Nigerian government and their seized lands returned to them.

 

You need to watch the video. The evidence is compelling. The content is horrid. The Speaker in session, Idris Wase, did not even allow Rep. Gbilah to make the presentation. He dismissed Nigerians living in Diaspora as a company of ignoramuses who do not know what is going on in Nigeria. Really? In this age of the internet? He said he would rather listen to a petition coming from Nigerians living in Nigeria, but not anyone in Diaspora. Thus, Wase robbed Diaspora Nigerians of their right of expression and even their citizenship! He even argued that these are people with dual nationality. Here is a lawmaker, a No. 2 member of the House of Representatives who is supremely ignorant of the fact that the Nigerian Constitution allows dual citizenship. “Do they really know what is going on if they are in America? Do they have dual citizenship?”, Wase asked with astonishing arrogance. He eventually asked Rep. Gbilah to be so advised and sit down. And poor Gbilah took the advice like a -beaten chicken and put down the petition he was about to read. The evidence is graphic. It leaves Wase no opportunity to claim hereafter that he was quoted out of context or that the video was “doctored”. Other members of the House in attendance at that session looked as if the matter at hand was not their business. Are we surprised? No.

 

I was indeed so shocked that I had to rush to the internet to double-check Wase’s profile. He is described as a graduate of Plateau State Polytechnic! It was hard to believe. He actually spent some years in a school of higher learning? And wait for this: we are further told he is also a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at the University of Harvard, United States. Wase went to Harvard! “How? as what?  as a tourist?”, I wondered. And yet he sounds like that? He is on top of it all, a fourth-time member of the House of Representatives and he has been either a member or Chair of various committees of the House since 2007. The Idris Wase video should be circulated widely. It is a perfect illustration of the crisis of leadership that Nigeria faces and the failure of the country’s leadership recruitment process. The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) representing the entire Nigerian Community in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Africa has jointly expressed its outrage in a letter dated March 14 and addressed to the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila. NIDO definitely has every right to ask whether the only thing its members are good for is Diaspora Remittances!

 

Idris Wase owes NIDO and MUTA an apology for speaking so rudely and contemptuously about a group of Nigerians who continue to represent some of the very best that the country offers on the global stage. And Abike Dabiri, CEO of the Nigeria in Diaspora Commission must visit Idris Wase, post haste, to take him through a quick tutorial on the significance and relevance of Nigerians in Diaspora, and the folly of his cow-brain, dishonourable comments. Whenever House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila returns, he must ensure that Rep. Gbilah gets the opportunity to present the petition of the Mutual Union of Tivs in America (MUTA) - with Idris Wase in attendance!      

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