Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase sits in the hallowed chambers of the House of Representatives as the Deputy Speaker. He got this position after a lot of horse-trading and the Nigerian factor called zoning. He is from Plateau State and got to his current position, which was zoned to the North Central. Though he denies Fulani blood, he has continued to play the Fulani card. Just last week, Rt Honourable Mark Terseer Gbillah representing Gwer-West in the House, attempted to submit a petition from the Mutual Union of the Tiv in America(MUTA) drawing attention to the plight of Tiv Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States. Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase was presiding and rudely stopped Gbillah in his tracks from presenting the petition. According to Wase, Nigerians in diaspora do not know what is going on in the country to the extent of expressing any concerns on the Nigerian challenge and petitioning President Muhammadu Buhari on matters that may concern them. He asked whether the petitioners are actually Nigerian citizens? Whether the Union (MUTA) under which they had petitioned is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and whether anyone could come from far away America and have locus standing in a matter like this. Since the petition could be placed before the House only with the permission of the Speaker-and Ahmed Idris Wase on this day was presiding –he did not give his permission and Gbillah was pointedly guided to sit down.
Though members of the House watched in silence as Rt. Hon Ahmed Idris Wase played the bandit against Mark Gbillah, his shameful and vile conduct continues to receive condemnation from well meaning Nigerians, both at home and in the Diaspora. The despicable conduct of Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase stinks to high heavens and shows how low we have sunk into the backwaters of the nation state. All of Wase’s arguments exchanged briefly with Mark Gbillah on the flow of the House are high nonsense. The argument that Nigerians living in the comfort of other countries do not know enough to sign a petition on what is happening in Nigeria is incredulous and at variance with the times and seasons. Whereas the argument might have made sense decades ago, with the internet and several other means of real time communication today, the Nigerian in the Diaspora knows what is happening in the country as much as anyone within the country including those with privileges like Wase. There are several Nigerian television channels that are monitored in many parts of the world. There are several social media and other online information outlets that give instant information on Nigeria to people across the world. This is how the world works today and if really Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase does not understand the dynamics of information flow in this age, he may need to have his head examined.
There is an ‘umbilical cord’ between the Nigerians in the diaspora and the country. This is a cord of ‘nourishment’, ‘information’, ‘service’ and ‘support’. Many Nigerians in the Diaspora have parents and close relations back home whom they support. They speak to these people regularly and have ample opportunity to listen to the challenges they face daily in the ‘Nigerian hell’ under the tiny tribe of devils called politicians led by the likes of Ahmed Idris Wase.
Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase had also asked whether the people Mark Terseer Gbillah was speaking for, (The Mutual Union of the Tiv in America) are really Nigerians? He alluded to their dual citizenship creating doubts as to whether they have locus in the whole matter. In all these, Ahmed Idris Wase had regrettably chosen to disregard the rulebook- the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives on Petitions. These Orders clearly state who can present a petition to the House, how this can be presented and ‘stand referred to the Committee on Public Petitions’. To the best of our knowledge, neither Mark Terseer Gbillah nor MUTA breached any of the conditions in the Standing Orders of the House regarding Petitions in this particular case. Rather, it was Ahmed Idris Wase who against the rulebook started a debate on the petition even when the rulebook clearly prohibits debate on petitions at the point of presentation. By wrongly jumping into a debate, Ahmed Idris Wase was able to deliberately mislead the House and commence a journey on the road of stupidity where the cow is privileged over the citizen.
Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase had expressed a concern as to whether MUTA is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria as if only entities registered with CAC can approach the House with their petitions. He denied MUTA locus and brought to the fore his sentiments in a matter which ought to have been handled in a more dispassionate way.
Those who followed this vile act by Ahmed Idris Wase will appreciate the fact that he had cleverly rubbished and killed the MUTA petition ensuring that it did not go before the House Committee on Petitions. This is unfortunate because of three reasons. One, the MUTA petition was a five-point prayer of ‘grave concern’ and shooting it down prematurely meant MUTA’S prayer was effectively blocked from public consciousness. Two, the House had refused responsibility for stepping in the gap in a matter involving thousands of IDPs who had been abandoned by the Federal Government. Thirdly, Ahmed Idris Wase’s vile shot was not only directed against MUTA, it was also directed against the Nigerian in the Diaspora and a clear signal to the effect that there is more concern and value in their remittances than their participation in the conversation on the Nigerian challenge.
For the records, MUTA had prayed for the immediate removal of Fulani herdsmen occupying Tiv ancestral lands in Benue and Nasarawa States to enable those displaced to return to their lands. Another prayer point was for the Jukun of Taraba to relinquish control and return lands, villages and towns they had seized from the Tiv while reverting to and recognizing original place names of Tiv settlements. Another prayer point was for IDPs in all three States to be guaranteed access to their ancestral lands for resettlement. Other prayer points were for financial and other support to Tiv IDPs to rebuild and reengage in ventures that would sustain their livelihoods, and for the Federal Government to give security cover for returning IDPs.
MUTA’s prayer focus on IDPs might have been informed by the total neglect of Tiv IDPs compared to other IDPs in other troubled spaces of the country. These are IDPs that have been abandoned and neglected since 2013. Promises made to them by high-ranking government officials including Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo have not been met. Elsewhere, Fulani herdsmen ‘displaced and dispossessed’ of their livestock have refused to stay in any IDP camp but elected to live a life of banditry and insurgency. They are responsible for the bloodletting, banditry and insurgency in several parts of Nigeria today. Tiv IDPs despite all odds have chosen to remain law abiding in makeshift camps without support from the Federal Government. Others who have broken from camps into banditry and insurgency have highly placed patrons speaking for them and negotiating conditions for their pardon and reintegration into society.
Rt. Honourable Idris Wase ought to have been sensitive to the plight of the Tiv IDPs, their ‘long suffering’ and the need for an institution like the House he leads to stand up for them. He ought to have also known that the Nigerian Diaspora is much more than remittances. He also ought to have known that any attempts to stop them in their tracks when they choose to add their voice to a national conversation on something as grave as the plight of IDPs is unpardonable.
Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase by this vile act has signed on to the Fulani bandwagon of impunity and criminality in the country. The other day, it was El Rufai running across countries of West and Central Africa with a bag of money to pay off the Fulani of the whole world from continued vengeance attacks on Southern Kaduna. On yet another day, was President Mohammadu Buhari himself asking Benue people to learn to live in peace with Fulani herdsmen who were slaughtering them and taking over their ancestral lands. Others on the Fulani bandwagon of impunity include Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Dr. Ahmed Gumi and other high-ranking government and security chiefs.
This bandwagon has continued to embolden Fulani herdsmen and is driving the insecurity in parts of the country and making it difficult for conversations on the Nigerian challenge to crystal into a coherent way forward. Many on the bandwagon are keen to place the welfare of the Fulani cow over and above the citizen who is a crop farmer. They argue and rationalize the forceful seizure of ancestral lands from crop farmers for indiscriminate grazing by the Fulani of the whole world. Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase’s vile move is significant. It has frustrated redress for Tiv IDPs, frustrated attempts by a section of the Nigerian Diaspora to enter the national conversation on a grave issue and shown how bankrupt leadership at the level of the House of Representatives is. In saner climes, Rt. Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase would have resigned, but in Nigeria, those who play the Fulani card are never at fault.He continues to justify his vile action.