Published by Ayo Dada
Like every Nigerian with sense, I am incensed by the conduct of the deputy speaker, Idris Wase on the floor. That I am ashamed he is from my state is understating the obvious. I listened to the video a number of times, to be sure I understood what he was saying, what he was not saying and what he was trying not to say. Here is a summary of the things I picked from the unfortunate exchange:
1. “Did you say Tivs in America?” After listening to Mark Gbillah for a minute two key words stuck out for him: Tiv and America. This is why I, like many Nigerians, believe that this is a case of ethnic profiling.
2. “If they are in America do they know what’s going on in Nigeria?” Yes, you heard right. He asked that unfortunate question. In this information age, someone is asking this?
3. “If it’s coming from those in Nigeria then it has locus but coming from America…..I don’t know.” What is the basis of this? How does this make any sense?
4. “Do they have dual citizenship?” What does that have to do with anything? Does Wase have something against those who live and work in America? When did dual citizenship become a crime. Even the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has (or had) dual citizenship.
5. “Are they registered with CAC in Nigeria?” Again, how does this make any sense? I will come back to this shortly.
6. “If they are Nigerians living in Nigeria then it’s fine. But they are far away in America….. I am not aware that someone in America should come and lay a complaint in Nigeria.” This just takes the air out of my lungs. He reminds me of the guy you ask for a loan and he says, “Oh no, if only you had come last week…”
7. “With the permission of the Speaker implies that the Speaker has to be convinced of the locus standi of the person speaking.” Really?
8. “They are out there in America sitting in their own comfort, they are not in the position….” This is an unpardonable misconception. Those in America work very hard for every cent and they aren’t necessarily comfortable. And even if they are, don’t they deserve it? Don’t they work? It is the political class in Nigeria that feed off an unfair patronage system, a system they created. Those are the people we should worry about.
9. “Please I will not allow that petition to be read.” The arrogance of the finality, the finality of the arrogance! House of Representatives members are equals, that has to be said. How Wase imagines he is better than Mark because he sits in a wooden chair, wielding a borrowed gavel beats my imagination. Again, being a product of a patronage system, you have an unrealistic estimation of your real worth.
10. “Honourable Mark Gbillah, be guided!” This one came from an unseen hype-man who was clearly awestruck by the power of Wase in a wooden chair wielding a borrowed gavel.
11. Silence….. And the other honourables watched in comfortable but horrific silence. They had at least 10 opportunities to interject and call the deputy speaker to order. But this wasn’t a fight that would bring lucre, so they looked away, waiting for the next lucrative agenda item on the order paper to be discussed.
Then Wase responded. A response that was more asinine than all his 10 gaffes put together.
First he said the video was ‘doctored and slanted,’ but as usual, he didn’t provide the real one, typical of our politicians. They speak in English, then interpret what they said in English, and end up saying the same thing. Yes, we always “quote them out of context,” even when we have the video with all the context and more. The anger on the face of Wase provides all the context you need.
Second, he said he stood down the petition because of the legality of the petitioners. Then in paragraph 6 of his rejoinder he said, “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.” So the question is, is the Tiv Group not a group of individuals? Nothing in paragraph 6 says the group must be registered with CAC. That has to be clear. At any rate, he didn’t even give the petition a chance to be read.
Third, he assumed, and very conveniently too, that the petitioners will not be available if they were asked to be physically present to defend their petition. Conveniently, Wase forgot that America is only 24 hours away even if there is a need to travel, and only a click of a mouse away, if they want to be normal and use a virtual platform like Zoom or Meet.
Fourth, for good measure, he reminded us that he is a ranking Representative, with 16 years of experience. He came into the house in June 2007, and by my calculation, that is 13 years and 9 months. But you don’t need to look well to know he can’t be good in mathematics. Anyway, I have always said that the experience that our politicians parade is not the useful kind. It is mainly a deodorant on an otherwise eventless CV.
I write this as a matter of record and conscience. We lampooned those representatives who watched the show of shame in nonchalant silence. We shouldn’t be quiet about this kind of ethnic profiling, legislative bullying and unnecessary grandstanding by the number 6 man in the country. Clearly, we deserve better. Or do we?
I conclude by saying this: there is no decision more important than the decision we make on who to vote to represent us at the executive and legislative levels. If you don’t see this as a life-or-death decision, take a second look. Deciding not to participate is even a more deadly decision, as the Wase and their clones will emerge and make decisions for you. Decisions that have more death as outcomes than life.
Jah blessings itinually.
Publisher’s Comment: The Deputy Speaker Idris Wase represents the only Local Government which is a federal constituency just by itself. The only Muslim-majority LG in Plateau State was created as a Federal Constituency. Now Idris Wase occupies Deputy Speaker Office zoned to the middlebelt simply for representing one minority local government. #Restructure Now!