NIGERIANS living in the diaspora have been told by the deputy speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Hon Idris Wase to stop sending petitions to the National Assembly on issues happening within the country because they are not affected by any of it.
As the security situation in the country has deteriorated over recent years, diasporans have been at the forefront of the fight to restore normality. In several countries they have organised marches and demonstrations and diaspora groups also regularly write to the National Assembly demanding that it passes laws to address many of the issues.
In a brutal rebuff to the diaspora, however, Hon Wase, the lawmaker representing the Wase Federal Constituency in Plateau State, declared that Nigerians in the diaspora have no right sending petitions to the House of Representatives. He added that they have no right to complain about insecurity since they do not live in Nigeria.
According to Hon Wase, Nigerians who sit in their comfort zones abroad are not eligible to file petitions against the federal government on issues regarding insecurity. He spoke when Hon Mark Gbillah, the lawmaker representing Gwer East-Gwer West Constituency of Benue State, attempted to submit a petition filed by Mzough U Tiv Amerika (Muta) on insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states.
Hon Gbillah had explained he was submitting the petition on behalf of Tivs in the US because indigenes of the affected states had been sacked from their ancestral lands. Before he could speak further, however, Hon Wase, who was sitting in for the speaker Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, dismissed his case.
He said: “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.”
Hon Wase argued that Nigerians abroad have no rights to file a petition on the crisis, stating that it would be understandable if the petition is coming from those who are within the country. However, Hon Gbillah argued that Nigerians abroad should be able to file complaints because they have family members residing in the state.
However, Hon Wase quickly countered by asking if Muta was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Hon Gbillah responded by stating that Section 40 of the constitution does not stop citizens from freedom of association.
Hon Gbillah argued that Nigeria had been pursuing a policy of inclusiveness for its citizens in the diaspora, an aim that would easily be defeated if the same category of Nigerians cannot be allowed to speak on raging matters of national concern. However, his petition was subsequently rejected without opposition from any member in the chamber.