The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation has petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, after the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, dismissed a petition written by some Nigerians based in the United States of America.
Last Wednesday, a member representing Gwer-East /Gwer-West Federal Constituency of Benue State in the House of Representatives, Mark Gbillah, moved to lay the petition by the group, Mutual Union of the Tiv in America.
But Wase, who presided over the session, prevented Gbillah from laying the petition, claiming that the House does not entertain petitions from outside the country, asking the Benue lawmaker if MUTA was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
However, NIDO, in the latest petition signed by its leaders across the continents of the world, described Wase’s statement “as an unfortunate one that has helped to cast doubt in the minds of the Diaspora community as to the genuineness of the Federal Government’s intentions towards its Diaspora.”
The petition dated March 14, 2021, was titled, “Letter of protest over the uncharitable and derogatory statement on Nigerians in Diaspora by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase.”
It was signed by Bashir Obasekola for Nigerians in Diaspora, Europe; Obed Monago for Nigerians in Diaspora, Americas: E. C. Ejiogu for Nigerians in Diaspora, Asia; Gary Linus Unamadu for Nigerians in Diaspora, Oceania; and Obinna Kingsman for Nigerians in Diaspora, Africa.
The petition was copied to President Muhammadu Buhari; President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, among others.
The petition, addressed to Gbajabiamila, read, “Right Honourable Speaker, in order not to escalate this matter to an irreparable level, we are therefore demanding the following: a full retraction of this unfortunate statement by the Deputy Speaker; an unconditional public apology from the Deputy Speaker to the Nigerians in Diaspora Community. That Hon. Mark Gilbah is allowed to present the motion for and on behalf of Mutual Unions of Tiv in America as a concerned group of Nigerians in the Diaspora.
“That the Right Honourable Speaker convenes an urgent virtual meeting with the Nigerians in Diaspora community to address this issue and to reassure us of his full support.
“Right 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 whole Diaspora community is still in total shock that this particular video could emanate from the Green Chamber where the Rt. Honourable Speaker presides. We all are aware that the Rt. Honourable Speaker himself is a returnee Diaspora and that issues concerning the Diaspora are always close to his heart.”
NIDO noted that Nigerians in Diaspora had been extremely patient with the broken promises of both the government and the legislators, where the rights of Nigerians in Diaspora to vote have been treated with levity.
The group said it was wondering if Wase’s view and position were the same as those of other members of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Deputy Speaker of the House has faulted how the incident was reported in the media.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker, Umar Puma, in a statement issued on Monday, insisted that Wase’s action was to ensure that the petition met the standards set by the House in its Standing Orders.
The statement read in part, “The House of Representatives belongs to all Nigerians and can be accessed by all Nigerians wherever they may reside. However, like other arms of government – such as courts of law – petitioners must follow laid down rules and procedures in presenting their petitions to the House, otherwise, there would be lawlessness, disorder and chaos.”