Bring Your Money and Shut Up?!, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

Fifteen Urgent Questions, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase on Nigerians in Diaspora

To Wase and his ilk, Diaspora Nigerians are only good for their economic remittances. Who are those who do the remittances? Who are those who live in the Diaspora? They are people Wase does not care about. His dismissal is a dog whistle. Unfortunately for him, economic remittances are most often accompanied by social remittances. As money flows from migrants to their home countries, ideas, practices, skills, identities, and social capital go with it.

The video of Ahmed Idris Wase, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who said Nigerians who “sit in their comfort zones” abroad are not eligible to file petitions against the Federal Government on violent crimes committed linked to Fulani herdsmen got me thinking. As citizens, we have good reasons to be concerned about bigoted, myopic and ignorant political actors. The video of Ahmed Wase making the rounds showed that it does not matter if a political office holder is from Zamfara or Bayelsa. When we elect people to positions of authority, they do not just rule over those who voted for them, they rule over the entire society. That broad exercise of power is why we have the responsibility to be informed with our vote. Who holds power should be our concern, lest we elect fools or tin gods.

Last Thursday, while Wase sat in for the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, he rejected a petition filed by Mzough U Tiv Amerika (MUTA) on the insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba States. Mark Gbillah, representing Gwer East/Gwer West constituency, was seen in the video holding a copy of the petition. In the petition, MUTA accused the Federal Government of ignoring the plight of Tiv people who have been forced to vacate their ancestral land, and are now living in internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps as a result of killer herdsmen activities.

READ ALSO:  Transfers: Super Eagles star to make a surprise return to Turkey

I can bet my last Kobo that Wase has not read the Constitution and does not care if it exists. As far as he is concerned, Nigerian in diaspora should be stripped of their rights because they do not live within Nigerian borders. His utterances prove that he is a zealot appealing to the worst elements of occupation, dispossession and subjugation. It is blight on Nigeria that Wase is Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker.

In response, Wase said Nigerians abroad have no right to file a petition on the crisis. For him, it would be understandable “if this petition is coming from those who are within the country… 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.” Apparently shocked, Gbillah argued that Nigerians abroad should be able to file complaints because they have family members residing in the State. He said: “Some of them are just studying, some just went they to do courses and they’re a union and are Nigerian citizens.” To drive his point home, he referenced the freedom of association as guaranteed under section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution. The Deputy Speaker could not be bothered. He dug in and questioned whether or not MUTA was even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The argument of inclusiveness for Nigerians in the Diaspora wouldn’t sway Wase, whose antenna went up at the mention of herdsmen: “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,” he said.

I can bet my last Kobo that Wase has not read the Constitution and does not care if it exists. As far as he is concerned, Nigerian in diaspora should be stripped of their rights because they do not live within Nigerian borders. His utterances prove that he is a zealot appealing to the worst elements of occupation, dispossession and subjugation. It is blight on Nigeria that Wase is Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker. His lack of knowledge, training and decorum is confounding. Most perplexing is his ignorance of citizens’ rights, public policy, the Constitution and the sensitivity that one expects a legislator of his standing to bring to the table. Wase is emblematic of Nigeria’s embrace of mediocrity. How can an ignorant and pompous man like Wase be given such a pedestal to retail his ignorance and peddle his demagoguery?

READ ALSO:  Three health workers contract Lassa fever in Edo, 11 die in two weeks

His disjointed statement did more harm to him than good. It pictured a man in an armour of lies and arrogance. His video is in the cloud for posterity. The realities of global communications in the age of social media gives no room for the control of silly narratives. It is laughable that he doubled down and lied in his non sequitur clarification on Monday, that his comments were distorted.

To Wase and his ilk, Diaspora Nigerians are only good for their economic remittances. Who are those who do the remittances? Who are those who live in the Diaspora? They are people Wase does not care about. His dismissal is a dog whistle. Unfortunately for him, economic remittances are most often accompanied by social remittances. As money flows from migrants to their home countries, ideas, practices, skills, identities, and social capital go with it. Nigeria can’t take our money and have people like Wase ask us to shut up. No! It does not work that way. As Nigerians, we have the same right as he does. He and those like him cannot take our rights away. No one can prevent us from influencing social protests, elections, greater transparency and reform in all areas of governance. Our lived experience abroad is rooted in freedom, development and opportunity. We want to see a free, prosperous Nigeria with equal opportunity for all. In the era of globalisation, the mechanics of political change through democratic diffusion and transfer of norms is a moving train. A million Wases cannot stop it. Reform, justice, equity is Nigeria’s destiny. He is fighting a losing battle.

READ ALSO:  CAN decries drug addiction rate among Southern Kaduna youth

His disjointed statement did more harm to him than good. It pictured a man in an armour of lies and arrogance. His video is in the cloud for posterity. The realities of global communications in the age of social media gives no room for the control of silly narratives. It is laughable that he doubled down and lied in his non sequitur clarification on Monday, that his comments were distorted. Instead of apologies, he touted his 16-year stint as veritable experience; unfortunately it is not. In the last few days, he successfully advertised his ignorance and political insensitivity for all to see. Even his much touted experience as a “parliamentarian” is a betrayal of time. A pompous man, who retailed his lack of curiosity so carelessly in his dismissive attitude towards fellow citizens should be a source of concern to well meaning Nigerians.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

Source

Click for More News



%d bloggers like this: