Lawmaker justifies rejection of petition from Tiv people
By Alex Enumah and Udora Orizu in Abuja
Nigerians in diaspora have protested what they described as “uncharitable and derogatory statement” made against them by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Wase on the floor of the Green Chambers.
This is coming as Wase, has justified the rejection of petition from Tiv people in America, saying he was guiding the sponsor of the petition on the proper procedure to adopt in presenting the said petition.
In a protest letter addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the group gave a 14-day ultimatum to the House to retract the statement or incur the wrath of all Nigerians living abroad.
The letter of protest was dated March 14, 2021 and electronically signed by the chairmen of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Continental Bodies (NIDO WW).
The group expressed shock and grave concern over Wase’s statement, which they claimed puts to “doubt our citizenship, privileges and rights as Nigerians”.
The Deputy Speaker was said to have shut down a petition last week, being presented by one Hon. Mark Gilbah at the instance of ‘Mutual Unions of Tiv in America’, a social organisation of Nigerians of Tiv ethnic group living in the USA, describing the Nigerians in Diaspora as intruders and persons of no locus standi on issues bothering on Nigeria socio-economic wellbeing.
However, reacting to the issue, NIDO WW expressed disappointment that such a statement could emanate from such a person of high standing in the country.
They further lamented that no other legislator at the plenary that day could speak up against the position of the speaker.
While claiming that they remit the sum of $23 billion yearly to Nigeria and facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), medical missions, community development programmes and professional skills transfer, amongst others, NIDO WW warned that they have no choice than to halt all these if they cannot speak on issues of mutual interest to them.
“We, the Nigerians in Diaspora worldwide (Nigerians in Europe, Americas, Asia, Oceania, Middle-East and Africa), are totally appalled by these statements of the Deputy Speaker, Hon Ahmed Idris Wase.
“His inference, his body language, his facial expression and posture are totally disgusting. We are equally disturbed to note that none of the House members at the plenary session on that fateful day spoke up to educate the Deputy Speaker on what the Nigerians in Diaspora bring on board for the development of Nigeria and that it was the fundamental right of the Nigerians in Diaspora to intervene in respect of their kinsmen back home.
“We are therefore compelled and inclined to believe that perhaps, these views are shared by other Honourable members in the Green Chamber and Nigeria’s political elites”.
The group demanded for a full retraction of this unfortunate statement by the Deputy Speaker; and an unconditional public apology from the Deputy Speaker to the Nigerians in Diaspora Community;
The group also insisted that Gilbah be allowed to present the motion for and on behalf of Mutual Unions of Tiv in America’ as a concerned group of Nigerians in
It also urged the speaker to convene an urgent Virtual Meeting with the Nigerians in Diaspora community to address this issue and to reassure us of his full support.
“Rt. Honourable Speaker, we would like to state that falling short of the above within 14 days upon the receipt of this letter, we might be compelled to take further actions, which might include but not limited to calling out all Nigerians in Diaspora to withhold further home remittances with immediate effect”, the group threatened.
Meanwhile, Wase, has justified the rejection of petition from Tiv people in America, saying he was guiding the sponsor of the petition on the proper procedure to adopt in presenting the said petition.
Wase, while justifying the rejection in a statement yesterday, said the coverage and reportage of the incident have mostly been doctored, slanted and bent to give political and ethnic coloration to the event that was otherwise strictly based on rules of parliamentary procedures.
Wase reiterated that the crux of the matter between him and Gbillah was on the legal identity and the locus of the petitioners, and not on whether Nigerians in diaspora have a right to petition the House or not.
He said: “Note that as a rule, every petition must be presented by a sponsor on behalf of an identifiable petitioner who can either be an individual, groups of individuals or registered corporate entity. The House has over the years entertained petitions from Nigerians in diaspora. However, those petitions were properly presented before the House without any ambiguity as to the identity of the petitioners or as to their locus and availability to speak to the issues raised in such petitions.”