Open Letter To Tunde Fagbenle On “Bankole And The Pains Of Misplaced Hope”


Before responding to the topic of discussion in your column in Sunday Punch of June, 2011 i.e. “Bankole and the pains of misplaced hope”, I wish to draw your attention and that of patriotic Nigerians like you both at home and in diaspora to some of my past articles which indeed bear relevance to the serious issues raised therein.

One of the articles is the one titled ‘Advice to Patricia Etteh’ published on page 9 in the P.M.NEWS of Thursday, September 13, 2007. In this article the need for us to collectively strive towards stamping out corruption in our society was emphasized by saying in the 2nd to the last paragraph that “It is high time our leaders realised that the era when public office holders in our country rely on ethnic, political, religious and race affiliation to drum up support, as an escape route to avoid sanction for engaging in corrupt practices is gone forever” and in summary, wrote that “Our leaders should not only shun corrupt acts and tendencies in all ramifications, but must be prepared to shy away from subjecting their offices, which they hold in trust for the public, to abuse and ridicule”.

The second write-up titled ‘Armed Robbery Versus Pen Robbery’ was published on page 6 in P.M.NEWS of Wednesday, September 26, 2007 where I said that “The problem with us as a nation is that we often fail to tell ourselves the home truth” and that “We tend to treat pen robbery in Nigeria with levity, forgetting that its effect on the people is equally devastating as that of armed robbery”.

Your reference to Dimeji Bankole as an economist who attended the universities of Reading, Oxford and Harvard that can be rated as being among the best universities in the world undoubtedly took me back the memory lane to my third write up on the need for a cursory look to be taken on certificate acquisition as a yardstick in determining the suitability of people for elective offices in our country. This article came under different headings in the P.M.NEWS, the Nigerian Tribune and Saturday Punch: The P.M.NEWS on page 4 in its edition of Thursday, June 16, 2005 used the title ‘No to degree as a yardstick for elective offices’ , while the Sunday Tribune and Saturday Punch used the same title i.e. ‘On degrees as yardstick for election offices’ on pages 37 and 45 in their editions of Sunday, July 10,2005 and Saturday, July 16, 2005 respectively.

A one-time President of the Nigeria Labour Congress and now the incumbent Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole together with a politician of note in the country, Mallam Adamu Ciroma in 2005, while commenting on the state of affairs in Nigeria expressed the view that “educational qualifications should no longer be a requirement for seeking elective offices in the country and that all Nigerians whether they are educated or illiterate should be able to vie for the highest political office in the land”.

It would also be recalled that derogatory editorial comments and public opinions were expressed against Patricia Etteh when she was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007, ranging from her being seen as a mere professional hairdresser who did not merit that position to the tying of her election as Speaker to her personal relationship with the late wife of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Stella of blessed memory. May her gentle soul continue to rest in perfect peace.

From the sordid revelation of financial scams and misappropriation of public funds that rocked the House of Representatives under the leadership of Dimeji Bankole and which have already been brought to the attention of the public, it can be said that elite corruption and pen robbery are two evils that are waxing stronger and stronger each passing day in our country and it is high time these cankerworms that are bestriding our nation like a colossus are collectively tackled with all the seriousness they deserve. There is no doubt that Dimeji Bankole symbolises the youth but is the nation getting the right representation from our youths who are presumed to be the leaders of tomorrow?

Nigeria is a nation bestowed with many degree holding economists, bankers, directors and chairmen of conglomerates, accountants, lawyers, administrators (both the young and the old), just to mention a few, yet our economy and politics continue to be in the doldrums simply because we have taken corruption as a norm in the society,

Egbon, you are no doubt not alone in feeling guilty over condemnation of Patricia Etteh in your column sometime in 2007. Without mincing words, well-meaning Nigerians and corruption-fighting individuals and bodies will equally expressed their deep regret and reservation for joining the league of Nigerians both in and outside the country in condemning her, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007 over an allegation that she spent N628 million in renovating official quarters of the members of the National Assembly. There is no doubt that patriotic Nigerians who have been following the trend in the political terrain of our country and who are still fortunate to be alive today to compare the allegation of financial recklessness levelled against Patricia Etteh and the myriad of financial scams levelled against her successor, Dimeji Bankole, would not hesitate to conclude that the allegation against the former is just a drop in the ocean and a child’s play when compared with the magnitude of those weighty allegations levelled against Bankole.


•Odunayo Joseph writes from MOPA, Kogi State.