Adeola Fayehun, a Nigerian journalist, who specialises in discussing current geopolitical, social and economic issues that affect the daily lives of Africans living on the continent, has beamed her light on the Deputy Speaker of the 9th Nigerian House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, and slammed him over what she described as disappointing actions.
The journalist angst was as a result of the lawmaker’s attitude and reaction to a petition raised at the floor of the assembly regarding the fates of the Internally Displaced People in Benue State.
In a video which has gone viral on social media, the association of Tiv People in America, under the umbrella of Mutual Union of Tiv in America, MUTA, submitted a petition to the House of Reps through the its lawmaker, Mark Terseer Gbillah, to raise awareness to the plight of Tiv people, who have been displaced by herdsmen.
Recall that the displacement in Benue State started in 2013 when armed Fulani herdsmen attacked and wreaked havoc on communities in Guma Local Government Area. These attacks have continued over the years with communities in 20 of the 23 local government areas of Benue State affected.
The invasions have resulted in the massacre of thousands of people, wholesale destruction of communities, and often, total obliteration of economic and cultural assets.
Fleeing families now occupy several IDP camps across the state, with many more cohabiting with relatives in overcrowded and extremely vulnerable spaces. Benue State has 27 IDP camps accommodating more than half a million displaced citizens. The Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) classifies eight of the camps as official while the remaining 19 are unofficial. Official camps usually have SEMA staff on-site while unofficial camps are not staffed, receiving limited SEMA support.
When the petition came up at the National Assembly, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, ‘killed’ it and ordered Gbillah to be guided because Nigerians in diaspora don’t have the right to petition the assembly.
“If they are in America, could they really be participating here?” Wase queried, “Do they really know what is exactly going on in the country?”
The lawmaker was of the opinion that if the petition was from those within the country, then it could be considered. Though Gbillah tried to protest that these people are still Nigerians, but Wase countered, “If you say they’re Nigerians, they’re Nigerians. But I don’t know if you have dual citizenship… If they’re Nigerians and living in Nigeria and bringing issues, I agree. But somebody in America; who is far away from this country? I’m not convinced.”
Fayehun expressed disappointment at the speaker’s submission and wondered how he became a lawmaker in the first instance.
“Alhaji, you have said nothing; I used to think that wisdom is by age. I’m not abusing you sir but it is an observation.
“How did this man become the deputy speaker in this age of 2021, haba?” she wondered.
The journalist said Wase was shameless and an illiterate.
“I thought the man was educated o. See me see trouble!
“It’s hard enough that whenever we return into the country, the airports look like a nightmare. Common toilet paper, sometimes, you don’t have.”
She went ahead to complain about several things Nigerian politicians stripped the citizens living abroad of and yet in 2019, Nigeria received over $17.5 billion diaspora remittances in 2019 and PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that migrant remittances to Nigeria could grow to US$29.8bn and US$34.8bn in 2021 and 2023 respectively.
These estimations are more than the federal government’s budget in a year.
“Other countries arranged for their citizens abroad to partake in electoral processes but I’m not surprised by Nigerian lawmakers depriving us that right, because they know if we are able to vote, most of them wouldn’t be elected.
“Now they are saying we can’t submit petition which is just to remind them to do their jobs?! They just don’t want to be responsible to the people at all.
“But when it comes to collecting money these people abroad, you have no shame!” she submitted.
Wase attended LSB Primary School Bashar in Wase, Plateau, Government Secondary School Mbar, Government Secondary school Dengi, Plateau Polytechnic, Kaduna Polytechnic and Harvard Kennedy School of Government in United States.