You Just Don’t Get It Mr. Speaker!


In an obvious attempt at salvaging an almost irreparably battered image, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, at a meeting with students of the University of Ilorin, lashed out at the CBN and some other agencies accusing them of financial impropriety by not remitting money to the national treasury and by not being willing to submit themselves for scrutiny by the National Assembly.

He continued by stating how much the National Assembly had recovered from MDAs in the last three years, over N1 trillion, as he put it! He stated how the National Assembly had recovered a certain N32 billion from the budget of the Ministry of Works and how they had been told N2billion out of it had been a ‘typographical error’ and N30 billion was budgeted for already completed projects! He equally stated that over N3 trillion collected as revenues by MDAs had not been remitted into the National Treasury before going on to assert that the recent outcry over the remuneration of the NASS was induced by certain people because “they had decided to ask questions and perform our oversight functions.”

How irritating!

Someone close to the Speaker should please tell him the truth and clearly show him how irritating and nauseating his claims and revelations were both in content and timing! In a saner society, I am sure this week would not end before Mr. Speaker would have received an invitation from an effective anti-corruption watchdog who would force him to substantiate his claims and then investigate if thorough actions were taken in regards of those revelations.

First of all, why did Mr. Speaker choose this time, when the CBN governor has just finished exposing the unjust remuneration of the NASS, flooring both the upper and lower legislative chambers in the defense of his claim, to shout that the CBN and other agencies had not been remitting money to the National Treasury? Is it now that the Speaker just realized this? Apparently, he had known this for a while, how come he waited till now to speak out and reveal this impropriety, if not for the obvious fact of retaliation against the CBN governor Lamido Sanusi who has won the hearts of Nigerians and has become a hero of some sorts at the expense of the members of the National Assembly? The Speaker’s outburst can only be classified as a vendetta-inspired roforofo fight, with the motive, “You exposed me? I will expose you too!”

Dear Mr. Speaker, when you first discovered the impropriety of the CBN and the other agencies, why didn’t you shout for the whole world to hear and bring to justice all public officials who were found responsible for such an act? Who got reprimanded for these improprieties? What bills were passed, and what measures were put in place to ensure that such would not repeat itself? Were your palms greased at that time to make you keep quiet, and provide a soft landing for the culprits? I believe an investigation should be carried out on the handling of these events; it is not enough that the NASS as the Speaker claims re-channeled such monies into the budget; it is incumbent upon a corruption-fighting nation to know what punitive measures were served on erring officials.

Second, you discovered in the budget of the Ministry of Works that a whopping N30 billion had been earmarked for projects that had already been completed and upon checking the whole budget, discovered yet another N2 billion unaccounted for, and the simple excuse you were given was that it was a typographical error? Yet you and your 360-member house did not deem it fit to call for the resignation of the Minister and all officials involved in such a scam and institute a case against them at the EFCC? How dare you all? N32 billion would have been stolen under the guise of a typographical error and no one was punished for this? Is this your idea of governance? Is it because the Minister and majority of those affected were from your party? Or is it because you probably were “settled?” I find your revelations unsettling and sickening! This is a country that is supposed to be waging a war against corruption, so what is corruption other than what have you just revealed? Do you know how many good, world class roads N32 billion would have constructed and how many lives would have been saved that are already dead now because of bad roads across our nation?

And then you proceed to claim that the public outcry over your remuneration and that of your colleagues in the NASS is because you have decided to ask questions and perform your oversight functions. Does that mean all these while when there was no public outcry, you were not asking questions or performing your oversight functions? You were just being paid heavily and feeding fat on the taxpayers doing nothing?

Pray, does the incitement of public outcry against your remuneration obliterate the fact that your remuneration in the National Assembly is a shame to you the earners, and a pain to an impoverished people? Little wonder you did not say anything about the remuneration itself other than accuse others of inciting it. How on earth, Mr. Speaker can you justify that you and your colleagues are the highest paid legislators in the world? How can you justify being the highest paid legislators in the world whereas Nigerian workers and civil servants are amongst the worst paid in the world? In the same country! How can you justify the fact that each member of your house gets paid higher than the President of USA, Barack Obama annually? How do you want to justify that? If you were not a member of this assembly, and you were a mere observer from outside, what would you say? What occupational hazards qualify you for such a pay, and tell me what government office or job has not its own occupational hazards? Nigerian workers are fighting to be paid a minimum wage of N18,000 per month! While your lunch allowance on a typical legislative day is over N120,000, how do you want to justify this? How?

Who cares if the CBN’s budget is in the excess of N300 billion? As long as it is rightly and justifiably expended! And if the CBN’s budget is bogus, with flippant and unnecessary expenditures, then such should be revealed for the nation to see and subjected to the court of public opinion! Don’t tell us the CBN’s budget is N300 billion simply because there is a searchlight on your own budget. Justify your earnings, or get it drastically reduced to match the daily realities of the Nigerian state, else you would keep incurring more wrath from the Nigerian people and your image continually going down the gutter. That is not good for your budding political career, Mr. Speaker. You are young and have a long political career to go; you should take a stand that will endear you to the hearts of the Nigerian people now, and not the political godfathers. If you see what I see, the handwriting is on the wall and the end of days is come for many a political godfather across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Do you not smell the faraway incense of a burning revolution, targeted at perceived oppressors of the masses of our land, which unfortunately includes you and your colleagues?

I would even argue you pontificated such yourself in your speech when you attributed the poverty in Nigeria to corruption and the subservience of the Nigerian populace! The subservience of the Nigerian populace! If the scale fell off the eyes of the Nigerian people and they threw away their garment of subservience and seized their destinies in their own hands, do you really believe you would be as comfortable as you are? Do you think you wouldn’t be one of the people the masses of Nigeria would seek to avenge their misery upon? If you doubt what I say, Mr. Speaker, please take a lone walk in the midst of Mushin market in Lagos without any security or paraphernalia of government, then we would know how true my assertion is.

On the electoral reform, you said “N87bn is not a guarantee that the elections in 2011 will be free and fair. Today, any government that controls a state, not just the Peoples Democratic Party, wins 100 per cent in the elections. We are all culprits in all this. We have all lost confidence in the electoral system…” So you know too well that you belong to the class of people who have continually desecrated our elections. All the injustice and wickedness perpetrated; the lives of people lost in the elections; the maiming of hands, legs, eyes and body of people in Osun State and other parts of Nigeria where your party, the PDP has perpetrated injustice. All these things you know about, yet you have never differed from your party on the conduct of elections. You never joined the fray to condemn the politics of do-or-die. Rather you sought to pass bills that were condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians; you passed undemocratic bills. You passed a bill that makes you and your colleagues members of the NEC of your political parties against popular opinion. You are one of the key problems of our electoral process, how can we be sure of a free and fair 2011 under your leadership?

Indeed I watched you in Ekiti state, during the re-run elections when you campaigned for Segun Oni and the PDP. I will never forget the shameful song you sang on that fateful day, “A o lo Soja o, a o lo Soja o, awon to lo Mopo lojosi, a o lo Soja, a o lo Soja, awon to lo Mopo lojosi, awon to lo Mopo lojosi o” which means for the benefit of my non-Yoruba readers “In this election, we shall make use of Soldiers, we shall make use of Soldiers against those who made use of Mopol (Mobile Police) during the last elections, we shall make use of Soldiers.” And indeed you used your soldiers, to intimidate the voters in Ekiti you did use your soldiers; to scare Mama Ayoka Adebayo, it was obvious your party used those soldiers as you sang. It is a shame Mr. Speaker, as a leader, have you placed yourself in a position worthy of emulation by the upcoming breed of Nigerians? I leave you to your conscience to answer that question.

I must say Mr. Speaker; it should be a delight to watch you at your height in the politics of this nation. You are young, handsome, well-educated with several foreign degrees and you command excellent spoken English. You could have passed for a worthy representative of the incoming generation. But for your manipulations, institutionalized corruption, bridling of opposition and other immoral acts, you have disappointed millions of teeming Nigerians. Across the world, Nigerian youths through Facebook, Tweeter, MySpace and other internet media continue to express their disappointment in you. It seems you forget Mr. Speaker, that you have a longer time to spend in this nation with these youths than with the political godfathers you seek so desperately to please at the detriment of your image.

I believe Mr. Speaker; you should chart a new course for your political career. Not by visiting campuses and saying things that are of no consequence, you should begin by denouncing the remuneration of the National Assembly which you are a key part of, as that remuneration represents pure injustice, oppression and institutionalized corruption in the face of today’s Nigerian realities; you do not need a prophet to tell you that. You should proceed by calling for a reversal of the anti-democratic and anti-people bill most recently passed which makes you and your colleagues members of the NEC of your political parties. You should proceed henceforth to become an advocate of the Freedom of Information bill to end all secrecy which aids and abets corruption in government cycles. You should then enact and support every bill with the masses of Nigeria in mind. You should support every bill that will ensure a free and fair 2011 elections in Nigeria and you should willingly resign if the house seeks at all costs to make you pass any bill which is both anti-people and anti-democratic. See, what has a man got in this world that he has not received? A good name is better than many riches, and he who loses his life (post) in defense of the truth will definitely find it, but he who keeps his life (post) at the expense of the truth will eventually lose it.

You should bear in mind constantly those people at Ketu bus stop in Lagos who stand in rain and sunshine to sell their wares to survive; the students dropping out of Universities because they cannot afford the prevalent school fees; those children in the midst of traffic all over our nation selling Gala, Newspapers, La Casera etc to make a daily living. The thousands of people dying on our expressways daily because of bad roads whose budgetary allocations have been stolen; the families of journalists who have been killed in the search of information. Millions who are hungry, homeless and hopeless in our nation today. You should become an advocate for them. Of course, this will not come without repercussions, you will be attacked first by the very members of your assembly, you will be impeached, and your party will declare war against you, if you have corrupt skeletons in your cupboard, they will expose you and they will begin to charge you to court. But I tell you what; you would have earned a golden name and legacy in the sights and hearts of millions of Nigerians. You will become a hero like Lamido Sanusi is today, and the future would belong to you, after the present must have been snatched from you. I tell you Mr. Speaker, every single political office holder who is enjoying loot and unjust pay today is coming to answer for it, whether you believe it or not, it is only unfortunate that men never learn from history and our memories are so short. Believe me Mr. Speaker, PDP is going down. I earnestly urge you to begin to grow a new legacy for yourself and sow a seed that will make your name immortal in the hearts of Nigerians. A word is enough for the wise.

•Adejuwon Anjoorin is the Asst. Director, Media & Publicity National Transformation Party, writes from Lagos

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